I obtained my first certification in 2012 when I got certified as 1 of 8 Fieldbus Certified Professionals in all of sub – Saharan Africa. That feeling of fulfillment was quite fantastic however, I was plagued by a different thought altogether. Would I find an application of this new knowledge in my current role as an automation technician? Especially given that more than 90% of my plant had pneumatic controls. Do I have to start looking for a new job? How does my current organization derive value from my new knowledge? Did I just waste my time and resources in acquiring this certification? Do I really want to pursue a career in automation in the long run?
So many questions, very little answers.
These are some of the questions a lot of professionals ask themselves once they get some form of training or certification. On the other hand, some would question why get trained or certified at all when they already know the job. In this article, I try to show some of the misconceptions of the benefits of certification and why you should get certified.
Evolve or Dissolve
Certification not might necessarily mean a new job role, higher pay, or promotion, even though that might be the case in some instance. Learning is an active part of our everyday lives as humans and this no different in our professionals. With the speed of technological advancement, we are experiencing today it is imperative that if we must remain at the top of our game and stay relevant, then we must be able to learn, unlearn and relearn. There are various ways this can be achieved at a personal or organizational level. Certification is just one way of confirming you have achieved learning in certain areas of your profession.
“Definition: Certification refers to the confirmation of certain characteristics of an object, person, or organization. This confirmation is often, but not always, provided by some form of external review, education, assessment, or audit. Accreditation is a specific organization’s process of certification. (Wikipedia)”
Types of Certification
• Professional: tests competence on a job or task (CMRP, CRE, CRL)
• Product (Proof of Quality)
• Processor Management System (ISO 14000, 55000)
Choice of Certification (CMRP, CRE, CRL, CAMA)
Your choice would really come down to your desired career path. Now it is important to put think through this thoroughly because it has the capacity to determine how you are perceived by the outside would. Certifications on random subject area do not connote professionalism or direction. This means all your certification must be complementary to each other and reflect your expertise. For example, as a Maintenance & Reliability professional, there is the CMRP (Certified Maintenance & Reliability Professional), CRE (Certified Reliability Engineer) and CRL (Certified Reliability Leader).
For practicing professional the CMRP tests practical knowledge & application of best in class principles, the questions are set, managed and administered by practicing professionals. This suits me perfectly, being tested by fellow professionals and hence I prefer it to CRE. On the other hand, the CRE is detailed, more analytical and academic in nature and might be suitable for professionals in FEED, consultancy etc, all depending on the experience and career direction of the individual.
The CRL (Certified Reliability Leader) complements both the CMRP and CRE and can be obtained as an addition to further improve on the subject. Beyond these general certifications, there are specialized ones for specific subject areas such as Vibration Analysis (CAT I, II & III), Oil Analysis, Machine Lubrication and the likes. These do not take the place of the general certification however they would complement and reflect specialization/expertise in the particular subject areas. Further certifications like the CAMA (Certified Asset Management Auditor) are available for professionals looking to further push the boundaries of their expertise.
Benefits of Certification
Going beyond those initial questions I have reaped some tremendous benefits which stemmed from the foundations of the certifications I took. Now I am among of the 5000 Certified Maintenance and Reliability Professionals globally with just less than 200 in Africa. I am also one of less than 10 (ten) Certified Reliability Leaders on the African continent. I have gone beyond just being certified to proctoring. I experience an enormous increase in my growth rate as soon as I got certified and continued to build on the learning by getting mentors, attended trainings and conferences and also teaching other professionals. Today I enjoy lots of benefits from these prestigious communities and I aspire for even more. Below are some benefits you could derive from being certified:
• Sets you apart from your peers and competition
• Marks you as a continuous learner (employers love this)
• Builds your confidence level on the subject
• Puts some credibility to your name on the global scale
• New opportunities
• Better chances of promotion
• Visibility in the workplace
• Access to premium resources
• Greater effectiveness on the job
• Chances of better earnings
• Opportunities for continuous improvement.
The chance that you would have all these benefits as soon as you get certified is rare. However as you continue on your journey of continuous self-improvement these benefits begin to trickle in. The year is still fresh. Set your learning goals (See Article on 7 Tips for setting professional learning goals) today and get certified.