As they begin this exercise, one question often comes up: Does certification improve my marketability? Unfortunately there is no easy answer. Certification doesn’t necessarily show an employer that you have all the skills he or she is looking for. As an industry, we have done a poor job of realistically defining the various security job functions. Further complicating this is the arbitrary and capricious nature of security position descriptions, which often include requirements that have no relevance to the role they are recruiting for. This makes it more difficult for certifying agencies to identify which bodies of knowledge to measure.
Does This Job Require Certification?
As you can see, while the percentage of listings mentioning CPP has increased over the years, it still represents a tiny minority of job listings. There is no silver bullet when it comes to advancing your career. Most organizations seek to fill positions with qualified individuals who have a record of accomplishments in similar positions. In addition, organizations like to hire people who they believe will fit into the organization’s culture and who can best engage effectively with the managers and individuals with whom they will need to interact.
The world’s leading organizations don’t hinge their hiring decisions for “C” level executives on whether the candidates are certified in a particular field.
The Purpose of Certification
All this is not to say that certifications are not useful. They can be valuable programs to advance the sector they represent. The most valuable certification programs that are integrated into recognized degree and/or certificate educational programs have specifically defined the body of knowledge they seek to measure; stay focused and up-to-date; measure knowledge in operational level positions; and are widely accepted by hiring organizations.
Our recommendation is to choose your educational and certification programs carefully. Ensure that they have clearly defined course material and test objectives that realistically measure relevant knowledge in a given practice area. For those candidates in the beginning or mid-point of their career, certifications can help set you apart from other candidates; however, no certification is an indication of your ability to lead a program at a senior level of management. Having a lot of initials following your name will not advance your career if you cannot demonstrate a record of accomplishments, maturity, competence and a wide range of interpersonal, non-technical skills.