In today’s world of four percent unemployment, there is no shortage of workers. With this steady employment comes new opportunities in the job market. And the best way to do that is to upgrade your skills for the position that you want. Whether you chose an self-paced and instructor-led certification program, there are powerful certifications in nearly every profession that can prepare you for a wide range of new possibilities. 

Keep in mind that while certifications can be game changers, not all certifications are created equal. Below are some certifications that recruiters say actually move the needle when making hiring decisions. If one of them is relevant to your current field or a field you want to move into, look no further than Continuing & Professional Studies at Towson University.

1. Human resources certifications

While not a requirement, many recruiters agree that job seekers in the HR field can benefit greatly from having professional certifications. When a candidate has a certification behind his or her experience or degree, it indicates that there are competencies, knowledge, and skills behind the experience. Candidates can begin to appear more multi-dimensional and that is important. It should also be noted that candidates for job applications could also command a higher salary based on the certification that seems to have a ten-year impact of about a thousand dollars per year.  It is double for SPHR certification holders.

Towson University offers an instructor-led and self-paced Human Resources Certification Prep Course that can help you get certified in either the PHR®, SPHR®, SHRM-CP®.

2. Project management certifications

“Anyone can claim to have the leadership and organizational skills of a project manager, but a certification in this field really adds value to a candidate’s resume,” says a technical recruiter at a large staffing & training firm. In addition, the PMP® certification brings a 22–25% increase over non-certified peers. 

Employers fully understand that prospective employees with the PMP® certification tend to have a more sophisticated approach to taking projects from inception through completion across different methodologies. Another plus is while this certification is especially helpful for those in or pursuing the project management field, the knowledge gained can also be broadly applied to other fields at the manager and leadership level.

Towson University Continuing & Professional Studies is a registered educational provider with the Project Management Institute. We offer an instructor-led Project Management Professional (PMP®) Certification Prep Course to prepare you to take the PMP® exam.

3. Process improvement:  Lean Six Sigma

Lean Six Sigma is a quality management methodology that seeks to minimize or eliminate defects or errors in products and business services. Lean technologies were born at Toyota and re-focused the way organizations value work. Originally, Lean Six Sigma was developed to improve manufacturing processes, but now the tools and techniques have been integrated to provide high value in process improvement to industries like healthcare, aeronautics, electronics, banking and finance, pharmaceuticals, retail and more. Therefore making it one of the highest paying certifications in 2019.

Unlike most of the IT-related certifications in the industry today, Six Sigma certifications are available from several different certification bodies, such as the American Society of Quality (ASQ) and the International Association for Six Sigma Certification (IASSC).

Towson University offers an self-paced Lean Six Sigma Program course that includes a project for certification. This course teaches Lean Six Sigma process improvement projects from start to finish. For professionals on the go, this is an ideal way to certify that you know what you know.

4. IT help desk/desktop analyst certifications

A definite must have for IT professionals seeking an entry-level position or those without a degree, two certifications can help your resume stand out. An A+ certification is ideal for a position like help desk or desktop analyst or even troubleshooters. A+ is a great starting point that will definitely help you find a job. If you are a career changer, these two certifications are crucial to getting your first position. 

In addition, recruiters also like to see Network+ certification. While there are more complex and challenging Network certifications for more experienced IT personnel, Network+ in conjunction with A+ is a strong pairing of skills that will open even more doors than either would alone. 

Towson University Continuing & Professional Studies offers a self-paced bundled course that includes CompTIA A+, Network+ and Security+ certifications. 

5. IT security certifications

Cyber security has become a household word over the past few years. Most career counselors recommend Security+ as the first security certification IT professionals should earn. It establishes the core knowledge required of any cybersecurity role and provides a springboard to intermediate level cybersecurity jobs. Security + incorporates best practices in hands-on trouble shooting to ensure security professional have practical security problem solving skills. 

By itself, Security+ is not going to get you into a DoD position. You’ll need a few others to move along that pathway. But Security+ can prepare you for jobs in information security analysis or cybersecurity analysis.

As you navigate the new normal of low unemployment, it is more important than ever to think about your overall career goals. Plan to take time to improve what you already know or to prove that you know what you know. That is how you can make your resume stand apart from the others. A certification is not just another bullet point in your resume; it’s a powerful validation of your knowledge and skills that nine out of ten hiring managers trust.