In professional education today, there has been a transformation in the way learning is viewed in terms of time — instead of regarding education as an event, it is being seen more as a process. This trend has been born of necessity. The speed of innovation in business and technology demands a virtually constant progression of learning.
This has affected several credentialing programs. Nowadays, the actual conferral of a certification frequently isn’t considered to be the terminus of professional development, but rather a step in one’s educational journey. Not surprisingly, then, recertification has become a large part of the regimen of many credentialing programs.
Recertification can take many forms, but it always boils down to staying current in the field. It often entails examinations (usually just one), which might be the original test with updates to reflect changes in the topic or a new exam designed specifically for the purposes of recertifying individuals.
Additionally, it frequently will include continuing professional education (CPE) credits tied to approved learning experiences (training programs, college courses and so forth). It also invariably involves fees of some sort, which might not be easy on the wallet.
The recertification process is almost always set at specific time intervals, usually a few years after the certificant successfully attains it. As a rule, the more advanced the credential, the more recurrent (and more difficult) the recertification requirements. And the time candidates should start thinking about recertification is before — not after — they attempt the credential.
There are some credentialing programs that don’t have recertification, of course. CompTIA, which offers good-for-life credentials, is perhaps the most notable of these. In CompTIA’s unique case, however, recertification probably wouldn’t be in its own or its candidates’ best interests. It offers broad-based, foundation-level credentials, and if it required recertification, many certificants might not be inclined to keep it up to date several years into their careers.
But for most of the higher-level certs, recertification is a necessary stage of assessing that someone holding a credential can perform the necessary tasks involved with a certain job role or technology today, not a few years ago. The organizations offering these certifications would be remiss if they didn’t have some sort of system to periodically gauge the proficiency of the people who tout them in the job market. And keeping their existing credentials in good standing is vital for IT pros who aspire to the most advanced certifications and vocations.
That said, there might be some instances in which certificants would opt to let their credentials expire. For instance, IT pros decide to go into another area of the technology industry that doesn’t relate to the credentials they already have, they might be justified in passing on recertification.
On the other hand, maybe they’ll think those certifications, however extraneous they might be, look good on any resume, and they choose to keep them current.
Ultimately, recertification (and certification) must tie back to your current or desired positions. Certificants must ask themselves if their cache of credentials will help them get more money and better jobs because, in the end, that’s why they get them.
If they aren’t serving this purpose, they’re not much more than a bunch of letters.