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Can professional certifications really boost your salary?

By Sandy Koukoura,

With the business employment community just about coming out of an overall financial halt, employer cut downs having reached new heights and a stagnant business environment slowly redefining its rationale, the question about whether professional certifications really do make a difference – i.e. boost the salary of those certified, is becoming more and more current. ‘What’s in it for me’ seems to be what professionals are asking and given a financial environment that is all about budget restrictions and job cuts, more and more professionals are looking at ways to enhance their marketability and ensure that they stand out of what seems to be a very puzzled and uncertain professional crowd. So can professional certifications offer professionals a financial security boost? Is the question about certifications even valid these days?

Apparently it is and, according to official surveys and annual exam numbers, the number of professionals who seek to verify their skills through a professional certification, is higher than ever. And what is more interesting is that certifications other than the most popular IT ones, such as ITIL®, are also gaining ground on a global scale. Certifications such as IASSC Lean Six Sigma and certifications for Auditors and Consultants, based on recognized ISO standards that are all about controlling business risk through a proven know-how of the relevant Quality management system, are increasing.

So how can a certification actually boost your salary?

Fact 1: Surveys prove that certified professionals earn more. According to a salary survey by CERTIFICATION Magazine ( in which over 40,000 respondents from 150 countries participated, 96 % of respondents with the highest salaries said they were certified.

Fact 2: Getting a certificate means that you immediately gain recognition from your industry peers and you enter a prestigious, nearly ‘exclusive club’ of professionals, possibly even including current and future employers, who share the same know-how and business perspective, worldwide. And today, given the glorious world of social media which allows employers to find out about you in an instant, including what you know, what certificate you hold, what group are you a member of, who you are and what you know, seems to be a key door opener in a wider employment industry.

Fact 3: Employers actually seek for certified employees. Because professional certifications demonstrate that you are up to date with the latest technology, methodology and market trends. It also means that your know-how is measured, evaluated and verified by a globally recognized standard, thus quickly differentiating yourself. And to an employer’s mind, that makes their investment in you a much more value added investment, an almost certain ROI on their part.

Alejandro Debenedet, a renowned international speaker with a strong focus on professional development gives a different perspective: ‘Certification is about the innermost in people.  It proves that the individual is committed to a specific subject and is ready to go the extra mile to verify it. And by going through the stress of certification, he is letting current and future employers know that he/she is ready for the next challenge’.

Debenedet argues that certification is thus much more than a verification of skills. It is a tribute and a personal contribution. A tribute to the subject the professional is passionate about and a personal contribution, giving back to the industry community through sharing his/her knowledge, experience and, over time, his wisdom’.

Fact 4: Given that employers are downsizing, a certified professional with a proven know-how and a commitment to ongoing development might be an easier option for employers to maintain. It doesn’t obviously guarantee that you won’t be made redundant, it just means that you have a strong case to argue against it.

Fact 5: For those hiring, a certification is the easy verification of your skills, put simply, they know you know, what you know and how you know it. And given that experience, proven skills and achievements are the top three factors when evaluating candidates for a job, a professional certification is a simple way to prove your knowledge.

Professional certifications are becoming more and more popular and they will continue to be so. And given today’s complex business environment, certification does make sense. So, can a professional certification boost your salary? I believe it can actually do more than that. So get certified!