Studying at university is an exciting period in a person’s lifetime. You become enlightened with academic knowledge and you expand your horizons with new experiences.

Hopes, dreams and aspirations build up while you plan your career after graduation. You start drafting your CV, writing every related detail about your previous experiences. You hand out your CV to a lot of companies. You might find yourself lucky to get a very basic job, or you may not hear from them at all.

You start to ask yourself what is wrong with your application. You get it checked by several trusted friends who are professionals. They immediately point out that professional certifications are missing.

So, what is a professional certification, you may ask?

Professional certification typically entails taking a short training course about a specific and specialised subject. Courses typically last anywhere from 1 to 5 days. They are designed for adults already in the workforce and are accredited by professional associations that set standards and frameworks within a certain industry or profession. They make sure that delegates develop the knowledge, experience, and competencies to perform a specific job.

Some examples of accreditation bodies here in the UK are: AXELOS, the Association of Project Management APM, BCS - The Chartered Institute for IT, APMG, DevOps Institute, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development CIPD, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants ACCA, and the Charted Quality Institute CQI.

University degree vs professional certification

Professional certificates differ quite radically from university degrees in terms of study approaches. University degrees, under-graduate or post-graduate programmes, tend to involve in-depth academic study including a written dissertation sometimes.

Professional certificates are more vocational in nature, can include exams, and act as an entry route within a specific job. A typical professional certification course lasts between one day to one week.

It is so crucial nowadays to study for a professional certificate. Here are 5 reasons why new graduates should study for a professional certification:

1. Gains the employer’s trust

Professional certifications show employers that you are trained, examined and committed to your profession. It gives them confidence in your abilities as it proves that your skills have been evaluated and approved by a reputable professional association.

2. Career interest change

Your degree and the job you applied to may not be related to each other. For example, you have an under-graduate degree in English Literature and you are interested in a project administrator job. Recruiters will likely refuse your application since you haven’t shown that you have any understanding in project management. Having a professional certificate like PRINCE2® or PFQ will raise your chances for an interview.

3. Job specification

In many job descriptions, certain professional certificates are part of the requirements of the job. So, unless you gain that certificate, you can’t apply for that job.

4. Earn a higher pay

Recent research for the Consultative Committee for Professional Management Organisations (CCPMO) showed that, on average, having a professional qualification increases lifetime earnings by £81,000. Without a doubt, studying for a professional training course can raise your value in the market and attract a good salary package.

5. Membership from the accreditation body

One of the benefits of gaining a professional certificate is that you often become a member of the accreditation body that certified you. Memberships allow you to network with other members and exchange practices, in addition to frequent updates of the industry.


In any profession, people excel usually because they work hard to achieve their goals. Gaining professional certification is an example of working hard now for a bigger payback in future. Think of it as an investment in your future. As your career prospers in the future you’ll be able to look back and realize the benefits you’ve gained were helped by gaining that sought-after professional certification

Mona Kay, Learning and Development Manager, Knowledge Train

About Knowledge Train®: A training company in London providing professional courses such as PRINCE2®, AgilePM, Change Management and more.

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