Why should one pursue higher education, post-secondary training, licensing and or certification?  Well as obvious as the answers to this question might appear, people pursue these credentials for different reasons. For instance, some may pursue higher education for personal growth, some may seek post-secondary training as a means to a career path without the four year commitment to college or university, still others may pursue licensing or certification for workplace advancement and or self-fulfilling reasons. Whatever the reason there is one dynamic pertinent to just about every one of the reasons given; additional dollars. That is to say no matter what the reason given, there are definite monetary gains to be made when one achieves higher education, post-secondary training and or, licensing / certification in any given field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, those who have bachelor’s degrees tend to earn approximately forty-one percent more than those without a bachelor’s. Similarly, those who have bachelor’s degrees fall into the unemployment range of 2.8% of the eligible working population as opposed to those who have high school diplomas who fall into the unemployment range of 5.6% of the eligible working population (U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, website accessed 1 August 2016). Based on the most rudimentary assessment of this data it can be maintained that those who have bachelor’s degrees make more money and are less likely to be unemployed than their counterparts who have a high school diploma or less. With the earning potential of those who have obtained credentialing such as an advance degree or post-secondary training previously outlined, we will look at how licensing and or certification can benefit those who have obtained post-secondary credentials.

“Certifications and licenses are credentials that demonstrate a level of skill or knowledge needed to perform a specific type of job. Certifications are issued by a non-governmental body, but licenses are awarded by a government agency and convey a legal authority to work in an occupation” (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Where advanced degrees or training programs require two to four years to complete, certifications and licenses can be obtained in a relatively short amount of time. The need for certification and or licensing is most prevalent in the occupations comprising health care, health care administration and information technology, however many professional organizations provide for the means for those members of their respective occupational group to acquire additional credentialing through certification or licensing programs. These are 2015 annual average estimates for the nation as a whole; data are not available for states or local areas.

  • Among the civilian non-institutional population 16 years and over, 17.8 percent held a currently active certification or license. 
  • Employed people were more likely to hold a currently active certification or license (25.5 percent) in 2015 than the unemployed (12.7 percent) or those who were not in the labor force (6.1 percent). 
  • The majority of people with credentials had a license. Among the employed, 22.4 percent had a license and 3.1 percent had a certification, but no license. 
  • Certifications and licenses were more prevalent in some occupations than others: more than three-fourths of workers in healthcare practitioners and technical occupations held these credentials compared with fewer than 1 out of 10 building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations. 
  • The share of employed people over 25 years old who hold a certification or license increases with the level of education. For example, 8.4 percent of employed people with less than a high school diploma had a certification or license in 2015 compared with 51.9 percent of employed people with advanced degrees.
  • Median usual weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers with a certification or license were 34 percent higher than earnings for those who do not hold such credentials ($1,004 versus $747, respectively). This difference partially reflects the fact that people with certifications or licenses tend to have higher levels of education, and people with more education tend to have higher earnings. 
  • People who held a certification or license had a lower unemployment rate than those who did not (2.7 percent versus 6.1 percent, respectively). The difference in unemployment rates also partially reflects differences in educational attainment between those with and without a certification or license.

Employment

  • Among the employed, people who worked full time were more likely to hold a certification or license than those who worked part time (26.9 percent and 19.4 percent, respectively).
  • In 2015, employed women were slightly more likely to hold a certification or license than employed men (28.1 percent and 23.2 percent, respectively). 
  • Among the major race and ethnicity groups, Hispanic workers were the least likely (15.7 percent) and White workers the most likely (26.2 percent) to hold a certification or license. 
  • For employed people 25 years and over, the likelihood of holding a certification or license increased with educational attainment. In 2015, 8.4 percent of workers with less than a high school diploma held one of these credentials, compared with 51.9 percent of workers with advanced degree.

Conversely, individuals who hold certifications or licensing are less likely to be unemployed. 

Unemployment

  • People with a certification or license had a lower unemployment rate (2.7 percent) than those without these credentials (6.1 percent) in 2015. This partially reflects the fact that people with more education have lower unemployment rates and were more likely to hold one of these credentials. 
  • Looking at these two types of credentials, the unemployment rate for people with a certification, but no license was 3.5 percent compared with 2.6 percent for those with a license. 
  • For people of similar age, sex, race, or educational attainment, those who held a certification or license had lower unemployment rates than those who did not have these credentials.

Based on the information provided one can clearly see the advantages of obtaining additional licensing or certification in any given profession. One not only adds to their individual worth, employees holding certification or licensing brings a value-added component to the workplace and thereby affords that same value-added component to the organization.

Information taken from the website of the Bureau of Labor Statistics Accessed 17-18 August 2016. http://beta.bls.gov/labs/blogs/2016/04/15/why-this-counts-new-timely-data-on-professional-certifications-and-licenses/.

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