10 In-Demand Career Certifications (And How To Achieve Them)

By Indeed Editorial Team

October 13, 2021

If you've been looking for ways to advance your career, you may want to research professional certification. Most industries have some form of certification that will likely increase your chances of higher pay, better job prospects and new career opportunities. In this article, we discuss the most in-demand career certifications and what it takes to achieve them.

What is a certification?

Certifications are awarded by professional organizations to confirm that you have specific knowledge or skills needed to do a job. Typically, you earn a credential after you’ve completed your education or gained experience through an internship, residency or time on the job.

Certification involves meeting specific standards and usually passing an exam. The credential is usually valid for a limited time and must be renewed periodically. Employers may require that you achieve certification before being promoted or receiving a raise.

Certifications are more common in some occupations than others. Whether you need a certification may depend on your state, employer, or the type of work you hope to do. It is different than a license, which is issued by a governmental agency giving legal authority to work in an occupation.

Certificates, certification and licenses

You can add to your education and career options by obtaining a variety of professional certificates, certifications or licenses. The terms sound similar but they have different meanings and functions.

  • Certificates: A certificate may indicate you finished a vocational or educational program’s coursework. They are not academic degrees and do not certify you work in a particular occupation or industry. For example, you might receive a certificate for completing a management training program.

  • Certifications: A certification recognizes that you have the professional skills and education matching standardized criteria for specific professional associations, companies or independent organizations. They are used as industry standards and may be required for career advancement. For example, an accounting firm may require accounts to be Certified Public Accountants (CPA). Certifications usually involve education and exam components and may require renewal every few years.

  • Licenses: A license is used by state governments giving you authority to work in a specific field. They usually require an examination and proof of education and experience. For example, you have a state-issued license to be an electrician, doctor, teacher or plumber.

10 in-demand certifications and their careers

Learn 10 in-demand certifications by industry that employers are looking for and how to earn them:

Please note that no company or entity mentioned in this article is affiliated with Indeed.

1. Project management certifications

Careers in project management continue to be in high demand, especially for those who hold the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) and Project Management Professional (PMP) certifications.

The associate-level CAPM is ideal for those with less experience in managing company projects but who still possess a solid understanding of the field. The PMP certification is designed for professionals with a higher level of experience. Here are the general steps to earning these certifications:

CAPM requirements

  • Possess a high school diploma, associate degree or equivalent.

  • Complete 1,500 hours of project experience or

  • Take 23 hours of project management education.

  • Pass a 150-question exam through Project Management Institute (PHI).

  • Pay a fee of $225 to $300.

PMP requirements

Option one for those with less than four years in college:

  • Possess a high school diploma, associate degree or equivalent.

  • Have 7,500 hours of project leadership experience.

  • Complete 35 hours of education in project management.

  • Pass a 200-question exam.

  • Pay a fee of $405 to $555.

Option two for those with a four-year degree:

  • Earn a bachelor's degree.

  • Work 4,500 hours leading projects.

  • Take 35 hours of education in project management.

  • Pass a 200-question exam.

  • Pay a fee of $405 to $555.

Related: CAPM vs. PMP: What Are the Differences?

2. Business analyst certifications

Business analysts work with companies to analyze processes, products, services and systems to improve efficiency, productivity and profitability. They typically use data and information technology (IT) resources to help decision-makers move their companies forward.

There are several business analyst certifications, though popular choices by professionals in this field have been the Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) or the IIBA Agile Analysis Certification (IIBA-AAC). The IIBA-AAC is a stand-alone certification that designates a business analyst's ability to adapt and perform in changing environments. Here is what you'll need to do to receive these certifications:

CBAP requirements

  • Complete at least 7,500 hours of business analysis experience within the last 10 years.

  • Ensure 900 of those hours meet four of the six BABOK (Business Analysis Body of Knowledge) Guide knowledge areas.

  • Have at least 35 hours of professional development credits over the past four years.

  • Provide two professional references.

  • Schedule your CBAP exam and pass the 120-question test.

  • Pay $350 to $450, plus a $125 application fee.

  • Maintain your certification by earning at least 60 continuing education credits within three years of the certification date.

IIBA-AAC requirements

  • Complete an 85-question exam in two hours.

  • No eligibility requirements, other than two to five years of agile-related experience.

  • Pay exam fee of $325 to $450, plus $125 application fee.

  • Renew certification every three years.

Related: Learn About Being a Business Analyst

3. Supply chain certifications

Having a globally recognized certification in the supply chain field increases your credibility as a professional and may help you earn a higher salary in the future.

You may choose the Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM), Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) or Certified in Logistics, Transportation and Distribution (CLTD) designations when looking to further your career. Here are the basic requirements for certification:

CPIM requirements

  • Pass two exams within three years.

  • Pay $495 to $690 for each exam.

  • Maintain the CPIM designation every five years.

CSCP requirements

  • Possess a bachelor's degree or equivalent.

  • Have at least one approved certification.

  • Complete at least three years of related business experience.

  • Pass an exam that costs $695 to $969.

CLTD requirements

  • Possess a bachelor's degree or equivalent or

  • Have three years of related business experience or

  • Have at least one approved certification.

  • Pass an exam that costs $475 to $625.

  • Maintain the CTLD designation every five years.

Related: 12 Supply Chain Certifications To Advance Your Career

4. Marketing certifications

Marketing is a competitive industry and a certification can demonstrate your expertise when applying for a position. Social media and marketing analytics certification are available from Facebook, Google Analytics, Hootsuite and many more. Some are available for free while others can cost up to $2,500.

While each certification has different requirements, here is the general certification process:

  • Complete training program.

  • Pass an exam and pay any required fee.

Related: Marketing Plan vs. Marketing Strategy: What’s the Difference?

5. Skilled trade certifications

Those employed in the skilled trades often can earn more after receiving a certification in their desired profession. For example, there are HVAC mechanics, carpenters and welders who learn their trade working as an apprentice, then receive a substantial raise after passing an exam to receive their journeyman certification. While each profession has different requirements, here is the general certification process:

  • Complete a three- to five-year apprenticeship program through an employer or trade union.

  • Earn a degree or certificate from a trade, technical school or community college.

  • Pay an exam fee.

  • Pass a written and practical exam.

  • Maintain licensure (in some states) depending on the profession.

Related: How To Get Into a Trade

6. Human resources certifications

If you're employed in the field of human resources (HR), consider a certification that shows potential employers you've taken the initiative to pursue this designation. Recruiters seek those who hold HR certifications because they have demonstrated leadership. While there are several types of HR certifications, recruiters most often seek candidates with the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) or the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) designation. Consider these designations when looking to further your career opportunities. Here are the exam eligibility requirements by designation:

PHR certification requirements

  • At least four years of experience as an HR professional or

  • At least two years as an HR professional with a bachelor's degree or

  • At least one year as an HR professional with a master's degree.

SPHR certification requirements

  • At least seven years of experience as an HR professional or

  • At least five years of experience as an HR professional with a bachelor's degree or

  • At least four years of experience as an HR professional with a master's degree.

Related: 13 HR Certifications To Further Your Career

7. Sales certifications

Many sales professionals choose to pursue additional training and certifications through specific programs designed to enhance their careers. For instance, Challenger Sales, Spin selling and Sandler Training are all sales methods that require learning and implementing techniques that help sales professionals achieve their goals.

Besides strengthening their persuasive skills and expanding their knowledge of sales, certifications help them stay ahead of their counterparts and build upon past experiences. Here are the most common requirements for sales certifications:

  • Register for the desired workshops and courses.

  • Pay relevant fees to obtain certification.

  • Participate in web courses and pass online assessments.

Related: Top Certifications for Sales Professionals

8. Accounting certifications

Two of the most popular accounting certifications in demand include the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designations.

Accountants with the CPA designation can perform a variety of tasks while earning a great income preparing taxes and representing clients who must report to the IRS. A CFA is internationally recognized in the world of financing and investing and is well suited for those who want to become controllers and CFOs. Here are the requirements for CPA and CFA certifications, respectively:

CPA certification requirements

  • Possess a bachelor's degree or equivalent.

  • Pass all four parts of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants uniform CPA exam.

  • Meet education and work experience requirements by state.

CFA certification requirements

  • Possess a bachelor's degree or equivalent.

  • Enroll in the CFA program and pay a fee.

  • Pass all three levels of the CFA exam in order.

  • Fulfill professional work experience requirements.

Related: 8 Top Accounting Certifications To Enhance Your Career

9. Computer network certifications

A certification in computer networking verifies your skills and knowledge in the field. In-demand computer network engineers and administrators often hold the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) or the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) designations, which confirm their level of expertise and experience in the field. Of course, there are various certificates offered by different companies that you may choose to earn computer networking certifications. Here is what you will need to do:

CCIE certification requirements

  • Schedule and pass the written portion of the exam.

  • Schedule and pass the lab portion of the exam within three years or you'll need to retake the written portion.

  • Pay $450 for the written exam and $1,600 for the lab exam.

CCNP certification requirements

  • Possess the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) or CCIE certification.

  • Specialize in a CCNP path.

  • Pass the exam relevant to your CCNP path.

  • Pay a fee of $300 for the exam.

Related: 16 Computer Science Certifications To Help Launch Your IT Career

10. Health care certifications

Some in-demand careers in the medical field are certificate-based and offer advancement within the field. If you're looking to learn industry-related skills, consider pursuing a career as a licensed practical nurse (LPN), dental assistant, surgical technician or paramedic. Here are some general guidelines to get certified in one of these programs:

  • Register for a medical career program.

  • Complete program requirements.

  • Schedule your corresponding exam.

  • Pay any necessary exam fees.

  • Pass the exam and learn certification.

  • Renew certification as required.

Related: How To Obtain an Environmental Health and Safety Certification

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