The Value of Certifications in Professional Consulting
Consulting is also about continuous learning. As you consult, you will be regularly in conversations with clients and client staff who are knowledgeable in their fields and probably read the same trade journals, magazines, online articles, etc. that you can.
As a consultant, you have to maintain your credibility with them so you will need to stay at the top of your game which makes continuous learning a requirement so make this a part of every day. Read at least one thing related to your industry and profession every day – stay sharp to maintain your credibility with those you consult to.
Secondly, certifications also build your credibility, show you have done the work, and help you get consulting engagements. Every industry and profession has courses and certifications you can get that potential employers ask for – get them – they will earn you money!
Overall if you are doing management consulting, there is the Institute of Management Consultants certification in the USA and the Certified Management Consultant certification in Canada. This is very good to have but will take a few years to get – you can get some course exemptions for University classes taken which can shorten the program for you when you apply.
Every large consulting organization you will be competing against put their people through it and some clients won’t let you get through the door to consult unless you have this certification or are at least enrolled in the program and show the enrollment on your resume.
In the technology and project management professions, there are also a number of certifications and diplomas you can get and any you do get, be sure to put on your resume and on the bulletin boards where you document your bio. These become keyword searches recruiters look for when they are trying to find resources for engagements. Just read a few resource required notices on Dice put out by recruiters and you will see what I mean.
There are many certifications out there you can get. For instance, if you are working to integrate financial systems applications for clients, you can get certifications for such applications as SAP, Oracle Financials and JD Edwards.
If you are a Business Process Re-engineering or organizational efficiency expert, strive to become a Baldridge Examiner or get certified for Six Sigma.
Microsoft has over 100 certificate courses that they offer and full programs such as the MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) program that you can take a series of courses in and complete – and resourcers do look for this one on a resume if you are an IT professional.
The big one in HR is the CHRP certification – Certified Human Resource Professional.
In the financial world, its the Chartered Accountant and Certified Management Accountant designations to go after.
So there are a number of certifications out there that will help you to be a recognized professional and these will help you in your consulting career. Do not stop learning and building your resume. Over time, you will be able to command the higher chargeout rates if you do!