Bite Size management thoughts by Dr. Constantine “Dino” Kiritsis, founder, StudySmart.
Having consulted over 1000 professionals in the past two decades on career management especially in the area of Professional qualifications / designations, I came up with an interesting – I feel – model concerning professional designations to use when thinking of what to do to enhance your career. It is based on correlating the duration of the programme and age. These are considered important parameters (apart from the actual programme itself of course in terms of quality and career aspirations) before choosing a professional qualification or certification.
Here it is:
Short: Duration which is 16 hours of guided training
Long: Up to 3+ years
18 – 40: Immediately after high school up to 40 (15 years of experience apx.)
40 – 60: 25 years of experience on average
Important point:It goes without saying that the model assumes that the qualifications are of ‘above average quality’ and recommended by companies for promotion and possible employment requirements. Examples include ACCA, CIMA, PMP, SHRM, ICAEW, CIPD, CFA, CMA, IAPP, DipIFR and others.
“Go for it” & “Avoid”:
Generally speaking, individuals who are younger and need to build their careers have more to gain when opting for a qualification that may take more time, but probably not as much as an academic degree. Candidates should ”go for it” and examples are the ACCA, CFA, CIMA, ICAEW and others given that a candidate would need more than 2 years but usually under 4 years. Such courses would not be ideal for those candidates who are over 40 mainly due to time constraints, family commitments and the fact that by the time they complete the qualification, they would not necessarily receive a raise for completion as their remuneration by that time would be higher for work experience reasons. It is unlikely that the organization will appreciate the qualification gained in financial terms. An organization can probably find ‘cheaper’ title holders in the lower salary bracket than an experienced qualified professional who has already reached a higher salary bracket based on work experience. It goes without saying that there is always an ROI in getting qualified, but the fact is that the older someone is, there are additional salary parameters and professional experience is the bread winner. This is why I have noted “AVOID” in the bottom right area. In many cases, older individuals eventually never completed their qualification. There are some exceptions where a title with a longer duration can be completed in less time (i.e. CIMA CFO programme) and thus it may become more attractive and useful as the duration for 40+ busy professionals is of outmost importance.
“Ideal” & “Useful”
A 40+ year old would benefit greatly from opting for a designation with a shorter duration to ‘add’ a title and gain appreciation, respect & skill by certifying areas of experience, and also – in most cases – a logical boost to their salary. This is ‘ideal’ for this type of person, while a programme that has a short duration for a younger individual is useful, but not a differentiator as the higher quality professional titles usually require greater experience. The assumption here is that a person can opt for the SHRM qualification or the PMP which have a shorter duration but to be eligible to opt for the exam, some years of experience are required. Therefore this blocks younger applicants. A designation that would allow a younger individual to take an exam implies easier entry requirements. In the case of a qualification with a shorter duration, this has always proven to be useful, but given that duration is a significant parameter for choosing and the qualified individuals are many, it could be useful, but in most cases may not be the differentiator.
As every model, there are a number of limitations to the model and it does not apply in all cases and for all programmes. It is important to be coached by a career counselor before embarking on any qualification. However, as a general rule of thumb and after coaching a significant number of professionals, age and programme duration are extremely important prior to making a decision (not as much as quality of the qualification and passion of course). These parameters are not as simple as people may think. Career Management overall and deciding on a professional qualification takes a lot of effort and discussion. Overall, education is ALWAYS useful however it is important to maximize its value in relation to your career.