What Works in Professional Development: To Certify or Not? That Is the Technical Support Question

by Kate Bloom
March 7, 2018

Alright, it’s time to answer the big technical support question! To certify or not to certify? The answer is…there is no one-size-fits-all answer. I know, I know…not exactly what you wanted to hear.

What we do know is this: training, whether there is a certification behind it or not, is essential for personal and business success. Now let’s take a look at what we really want to know. Do I need an IT certification or not? Do I need to require IT certification for my team? There are many factors to consider when making these personal and professional decisions.

It’s Personal

Service and support certification might give you a competitive advantage in getting hired and promoted. Certification shows employers you have the skills and dedication (both time and interest) in your career field. According to HDI’s 2017 Technical Support Practices & Salary Report, 25% of organizations consider certification an important criterion for hiring, 25% consider it important for promotion, and 14% require certification. If you work for one of these organizations, want to work for one of these organizations, or if you want to be promoted within one of these organizations, then you have your clear answer: certify!


If you don’t fall into one of these clear-cut areas you need to do some further self-evaluation. “When determining what type of route to take with training, it’s best to understand your learning objectives and the goal of training,” advises Fancy Mills, Group Training and Content Director at HDI. Once you have clearly defined your learning objectives and training goal(s) it is much easier to make the decision that is right for you. Common training goal(s) and suggested routes to take are depicted below:

training, certification

Choose the training(s) that fit your individual needs best. “Often you can combine learning through workshops, webinars, and other non-certification courses to help prepare you for a certification course and exam.” suggests Mills. 

Are you looking for training that goes above and beyond a specific topic, skill set, or overall certification? Look into obtaining a degree or other long-term trade training in your desired field of study.

Do It for the Team

Let’s consider for a moment that you feel so passionate about certification that you are considering making IT certification a requirement of all existing team members and new hires. Before making this team-certified decision, ask yourself why? Why do I want everyone on my team to be certified? What skills am I wanting my team members to have? Can these skills be obtained through non-certification training? What benefits does the certification give each team member? How does team certification benefit the business? Will there be a solid return on investment?

Examine Your Training Goals

To help you in your decision, let’s take a look at some examples of individuals and businesses that made the decision to certify or not to certify.

Canon Solutions America. Canon Solutions America provides its customers with industry-leading enterprise, production, and large-format printing solutions, supported by exceptional professional service offerings. A wholly owned subsidiary of Canon USA, Inc., Canon Solutions America helps companies of all sizes improve sustainability, increase efficiency, and control costs. The Solutions Support Center (SSC) at Canon Solutions America consists of 50 dedicated individuals—each one of them HDI-certified—supporting a customer base of approximately 50,000 businesses.

Fancy Mills, Group Training and Content Director at HDI. “I have achieved several certifications in the technical service and support industry. When I decided I wanted to take my career to the next level, I considered taking additional certifications and I also considered pursing my master’s degree. I elected to go the higher education route and earned a Masters in Science in Human Resource Development and Adult Education. Now, as Group Training and Content Director at HDI, I know I made the right choice for me. I would not have gained the knowledge I achieved through graduate school from a certification program.”

Blaine Scott, Director of Support Services at Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. “Certifications provide a means to reinforce standardized processes while providing recognition for those who are strengthening their resumes. It also provides you an opportunity to recognize your team members by investing in their future. What better message could you share with those you want to retain in your organization? I have participated in the Desktop Support Technician, Support Center Manager, and Support Center Director programs, all of which had information that could immediately be applied to my role.”

Your training needs and goal(s) will continually change and evolve over time. Be sure to re-evaluate yourself and your training needs on an annual (or as need arises) basis to answer the service and support question, to certify or not to certify. 

25% of organizations consider certification an important criterion for hiring.
Tweet: 25% of organizations consider certification an important criterion for hiring. @ThinkHDI #techsupport

Kate Bloom in an instructional designer for HDI where she specializes in curriculum design and development for instructor led and virtual classrooms and works closely with subject matter experts and thought leaders in the IT industry. She also has a passion for developing e-learning courses and staying current with emerging technology and trends. Kate excels in taking complex topics and taming them into creative, interactive courses suited to fit the target audience. She also holds HDI Customer Service Representative and Support Center Analyst Certifications. Connect with Kate on LinkedIn.

Tag(s): supportworld, training, workforce enablement, workforce enablement, certification, business alignment


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