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May 2011

John A. Challenger

Certification and Advanced Degrees: Are They Worth It?

by John A. Challenger
Certification and Advanced Degrees: Are They Worth It?

The value of certification and/or advanced degrees, such as an MBA, often comes into question in the wake of economic downturns. There are two camps on the issue. On the one side you have those who spent time and money earning these achievements and now may be questioning the value of these achievements in light of job loss or, at least, job insecurity. The other camp consists of those who don't have advanced education and wonder if obtaining it would help their job search efforts or career aspirations.

Unfortunately, there is no clear, black and white answer. There are many complex factors. The need for such credentials depends on the job, the company, the interviewer or person screening the resumes, etc. In the end, it probably comes down to this: having certifications and advanced degrees certainly will not hurt your chances of finding a job or advancing in your profession. However, those who believe that certification or an advanced degree is the key to finding employment in a competitive job market will be sorely disappointed.

This is indeed a competitive job market and many job seekers are desperate for anything that will give them an edge. The economy has only recently begun to show signs of recovery. Employers are beginning to ramp up hiring, but the process is slow. At the end of the first quarter, there were still more than 13.5 million unemployed Americans and another 6.5 million who had given up on their job search but still wanted a job. The median duration of unemployment stood at nearly 22 weeks, with more than six million Americans out of work for 27 weeks or longer.

Make no mistake; the economy and the job market are definitely on the mend. March marked the 13th consecutive month of private-sector job gains. Payrolls grew by 230,000 jobs to end the first quarter, bringing the total private-sector employment to 108,572,000, which is about 94 percent of the pre-recession peak. March also saw the unemployment rate drop to 8.8 percent, the lowest level in 24 months.

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