Is certification worth pursuing?

Administrative pros looking for a way to stretch their skills often turn toward certification.

But do the Certified Professional Secretary (CPS) and Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) ratings help you advance your career? Or command a higher salary? Are they worth the work and cost?

Admins who weighed in recently on our Admin Pro online forum say the biggest benefits of the rating are:

1. Helps you get a foot in the door. “I have achieved CAP certification and found it very helpful in getting interviews and jobs,” wrote one admin, Karen. “It proves I know my business and need minimal training, but it hasn’t really changed my salary.”

Executive assistant Liz says, “When I was hired for this position, the VP told me the reason I was called in to interview was because I was the only candidate that was certified.”

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2. Boosts your self-confidence. Says one admin who is certified in CPS and CAP, “During the process you increase your knowledge bank and skill set level. You become a more valuable professional, whether or not your employer recognizes the effort or the achievement.”

3. Enables networking with other admins. “The courses provide a safe-haven for admins to get together and share what works for them and what doesn’t,” says admin Misty.

An OfficeTeam survey showed that certified admins could gain up to a 7% increase in salary. But don’t bank on it, caution other admins. Salary policies vary by industry and geography, so you may find financial rewards nonexistent.

“None of my subsequent employers even knew what it was, nor did other companies with whom I interviewed,” says Lea, an admin with a CPS rating.

Talk to your supervisor or someone in HR about what to expect post-certification, advises another admin, Kristie.

“Provide them with the list of skills you’ll be refining in the certification process, so they can give you an informed answer,” Kristie says. “In my field, my supervisor, who happens to be the VP, said that experience and a great work history screams volumes over whatever certifications a person might have.”

The consensus? Certification does set you apart and allows you to recommit to being the best in your field.

Admin Claudia, who received certification from Microsoft, summed it up best: “Put the effort into learning skills because it is something you want, not because you’re looking for the big pay down the road, unless you know your community acknowledges this training.”

For more information on testing and certification, see “Jump on the trend toward certification.”