Are You Wasting Your Time Getting Certifications?

Written by Kevin S. Bemel

Sunday, 14 January 2018 03:30

Are You Wasting Your Time Getting Certifications?

2-½ minutes to read

Certifications top most veterans’ list of important job qualifications. But recall you didn't have any when entered the military. Success came from your attitude. Recruits who absorbed the military ethos and gained expertise succeeded. Those who didn't washed out…

The Pivotal Factor for Reintegration

Two types of sailors come through WTP Sembach. You might think the divide follows one of these lines:

  • Active vs. reserve component
  • Enlisted vs. officer
  • Single vs. married

These divisions define the challenges they’ll face reintegrating. But none of them indicates whether a sailor makes a successful transition.

The Officer-in-Charge and I considered young vs. old as being the relevant distinction. But many redeployers in their mid-40s to early 50s soak up all we have to teach them. They report overcoming significant hurdles in the few days they spend with us.

The crusty old senior chief sitting in the back of the room didn’t seem to be paying attention. But when I asked him about his experience with sailors in grief his posture changed. For the rest of the workshop he sat up, his body tilted forward, engaged.

That’s when the answer struck me. The actual division is open vs. closed. Sailors’ age, rate/rank, and marital status don't matter. Their openness to learning and growing is all that counts.

To Get Certifications or Not

Another conversation exposed a different barrier. The person indicated only certain licenses and degrees confer expertise. Otherwise, no matter how much experience someone has in a field, a smart person’s thoughts are as valuable.

In America, many people consider claiming expertise to be egotistical or undemocratic. Tom Nichols wrote about this issue in The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters. But if you have greater knowledge and experience in a field, saying so is a matter of fact. Having such expertise doesn't make you better than other people. It makes you more qualified to engage or lead in a field.

There aren’t certifications for most of what you learned and did in the military. If you don't recognize expertise without certifications backing it up, you have nothing to sell but your labor. As a commodity, labor is worth no more than about $45,000 a year. These days, for positions with the most income and growth potential, companies want demonstrated leadership ability and problem-solving expertise. Degrees don’t matter.

Companies don't fire older workers because they’re old. They get rid of them because younger workers can do the same job for less money. Older workers who throughout their careers increased their expertise and leadership ability have become more valuable to the company. Younger people can’t replace them because they haven't had enough time to achieve a similar level. Such older workers not only get retained, they continue to advance.

The military works the same way. At the E5/E6 level, technical knowledge growth has peaked. Going forward, the ability to train, mentor, and lead is what counts. Service members who don't move beyond technical mastery face high-year tenure.

Do you believe you can succeed in civilian life even as you resist change? Do you think only certifications prove expertise? These two beliefs will prevent you're getting a high-paying job you’ll love.

Change them, and your ideal job awaits you…

In what area does your knowledge exceed most people’s?

You can leave a comment on this question or ask another question below ↓

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