What Is a Career Development Certificate?

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  • Written By: Wanda Marie Thibodeaux
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 31 May 2018
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A career development certificate is a document provided to individuals who have completed a program that focuses on advancing in the workplace or becoming successful on-the-job. These certificates sometimes are seen by employers or members of management as evidence that an individual is serious about work. Certificate programs may provide the skills necessary to advance or teach others how to develop those skills in workers.

Some people get a career development certificate because they want to focus their career pathway. Programs designed for this purpose help the individual figure out his career goals, interests and skills, as well as what he values most personally and in a company. They teach skills such as resume and portfolio building, answering interview questions appropriately and how to apply for graduate school. They also sometimes provide matching services, helping link students with prospective internships or fellowships.

Programs that offer a career development certificate to provide work direction and planning are open to individuals of any age. They are most commonly offered to undergraduates as a way to help students become fully prepared to find a job following graduation, however. They are supplements to, not a replacement for, a regular degree.


Other individuals already have progressed in their careers well and are in managerial positions. A person in this situation needs a program that can show her how to enhance or focus the skills of her workforce as a career facilitator. Some programs that offer a career development certificate thus teach managers how to identify development options and implement development programs. They also help managers create formal advancement structures and pathways so that workers know which direction or level they can achieve over time.

A pitfall of a career development certificate is that, although issuing organizations do set specific criteria for participants to meet, the certificates are not standardized. Certification requirements vary drastically, making it difficult to ascertain exactly what the certificate means. For instance, some programs are more like seminars, lasting just a few days. Other programs are extremely thorough, taking one or two semesters to complete.

Despite the inconsistency in content and length of programs for a certificate in career development, companies view a career development certificate positively, similar to any voluntary certification. They consider the certification as evidence that the recipient has given serious thought to what he wants to do, or that he has the skills necessary to succeed or teach others to succeed. Those who obtain the certificates may add the certification to their resumes if desired and include the certification training in interview discussions, which sometimes helps set them apart from other candidates.



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