One of the main purposes of certification is to serve as a method of lifelong learning and professional development. In addition to helping you gain knowledge and skills in the first place, certification helps you keep your professional knowledge and skills current. You need the right skills and knowledge to get that first IT job, but continually refreshing those assets is what keeps you employed.
Take recertification: People in the industry often talk about being required to renew their IT credentials in petulant or aggrieved tones. "I passed the test! I still remember everything that I learned! Why do I need to pass it again?" The primary intent of recertification, however, is to help workers who hold a given credential keep pace with the IT "status quo" of rapid and continual change.
Maybe you plan to work in the same job forever, and you think that actually doing the job from day to day will keep your skills sharp. This may be true as far as it goes. The average worker changes jobs 10 to 15 times over the course of a career, however, so the odds are high that you'll need to get rehired somewhere else at least a couple of times. Don't forget about that certification altogether.
Another excellent means of staying current is to be in touch, even if only informally, with other people who are watching the industry and keeping track of where it goes. There's an easy way to do that simply by modifying a behavior that is already a long-accustomed habit for many. Do you have a Twitter account? That can be an important tool in keeping up with the industry.
TestOut Continuing Education has a Twitter account, of course, and you should definitely follow us: @TestOutCE. We happened to read an article at Online Education.com this week, however, and they have an excellent suggestion. You should also make a habit of following leading experts in your field — including top university professors.
The article that got us fired up is about cybersecurity, so if you click over there — which you should — you'll find a list of professors who specialize in cybersecurity. The overall approach, however, is by no means limited to the cybersecurity realm. Educators are passionate about their subjects, and the university spectrum includes leading experts in every IT field.
Don't pass up this excellent means of building a continual flow of new information about the latest developments in your IT bailiwick. IT can absolutely be a lifelong career pursuit, but you're apt to fall behind if you aren't actively keeping up. Make Twitter your comrade in continuing education, and take full advantage of the insights of some of the brightest minds in tech.
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