With past experience in teaching, a couple of degrees in writing, and an upbringing immersed in medical jargon, Mike is positioned well to hear out the most common questions teachers ask about the iCEV curriculum. His goal is to write content that quickly and effectively answers these questions so you can back to what matters - teaching your students.
Whether you teach middle school or high school CTE, you've probably heard a bit about industry certifications and are wondering if you should offer them to your students. But why are certifications important? What value do they offer, and how do they help students succeed?
In this article, you'll discover the top 10 benefits of certifications for CTE students.
After reading, you'll have a better understanding of why earning an industry certification is important to an individual's education and career path.
#1 Prepares Students for the Future
It’s never too early to plan for the future. Whether a student wants to enter post-secondary education or the workforce following high school, earning an industry certification can prepare them for whatever educational or career path they choose.
Because they are more qualified and prepared for the demands of the industry, students with certifications are more likely to perform better in the classroom or workplace. In other words, the value of certification lies in how it sets students up for educational and career success.
Those who gain certifications are more likely to earn more professional credentials, advance more quickly in their careers and earn higher salaries than those without an industry certification.
Learn more about the value of industry certifications in this report.
#2 Real-World Industry Applications
The knowledge and skills tested for in an industry certification exam are based on real-world industry needs. Oftentimes, it's even industry leaders who have a hand in developing certification exams, to ensure their relevance to modern best practices.
Because the certification exam and materials are developed by the certifying industry, students, teachers and potential employers can be assured the knowledge and skills tested for in the exam are relevant and applicable to the industry.
In other words, you're not just preparing students to take an exam---you're training them in skills that they'll use every day in their working lives.
Read this case study to learn how one North Carolina high school is using certifications to prepare students to enter the veterinary medicine industry.
#3 Increases Opportunities for Employment
Not only can an industry certification help a student attain a long-term career in their desired field, it can also help a student gain employment experience during their education.
Having an industry certification can help a student find part-time employment while they are still in school. And because they have a certification pertinent to a specific field or industry, they are more likely to find a position that is relevant to their future career goals.
Work experience matters in the modern job market, and one of the key benefits of certifications in CTE is how they give students the chance to gain experience while in school. This gives them a leg up over the competition when it comes to the job search down the line.
Learn how earning industry certifications are leading to employment opportunities for Kentucky high school students in this case study.
#4 Validates Knowledge and Skills
An industry certification verifies a student possesses the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in a specific area or field.
The standards and topics addressed in an industry certification exam are established and verified by industry leaders. This means some of the truest value of certification is how it demonstrates to potential employers and other interested parties that a student has mastered industry standards.
If your students need a quick, concise way to indicate their knowledge and ability to employers, a certification would be perfect for them.
#5 Leads to High Levels of Student Engagement
Studies have shown students who earn industry certifications are more engaged in the learning process.
Students with industry certifications are more likely to achieve higher GPAs, enroll in dual credit or advanced placement classes and earn a high school diploma. Industry certification earners have also been shown to have higher attendance rates and receive lower accounts of disciplinary actions.
When you think about it, this makes sense. For one, the most ambitious students in your class will likely see the value of certification and engage with the material in order to gain one of their own.
On the other hand, students who might otherwise not engage with your course may see the tangible benefits of certifications and realize the opportunity they offer. This could lead them to trying harder in class to pass their exams.
Read this report from the Florida Department of Education to learn more about the correlation between industry certification and high school student engagement.
#6 Demonstrates Critical Thinking, Problem-Solving, and Other Soft Skills
Not only must a student possess industry-related knowledge and skills to earn an industry certification, they must also possess soft skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving.
This is because many industry certifications exams don't test solely for technical knowledge. Indeed, a significant portion of most exams cover topics like communication, social skills, time management, leadership, and other essential soft skills.
For many employers, these skills are absolutely essential to success in the workplace. Students who lack these, then, are liable to fall behind their peers and become less competitive in the job market.
Therefore, to be successful in both personal and professional settings, students must be able to combine technical skills with soft skills. An industry certification verifies a student has mastered technical knowledge and skill, as well as demonstrating soft skills critical to long-term success.
Learn more about the importance of soft skills in the modern workplace in this article.
#7 Displays Students' Drive and Grit
It is no easy task to pass an industry certification exam. Because an exam must verify an individual’s knowledge and skills, it must be rigorous and present a serious but manageable challenge.
To successfully earn an industry certification, a student must be willing to persevere in the face of difficulty. This drive and grit will benefit the student during the certifying process, as well as throughout their personal and professional lives.
In other words, a certification doesn't just signify a student's intellectual or technical ability, it also represents their determination. By passing their exams and gaining their certifications, students showcase that they have the desire to go out and achieve success for themselves---and that's an irreplaceable quality.
Read this article to learn more about the importance of developing students’ grit.
#8 Exhibits Students' Passion for Industry
Earning an industry certification demonstrates a student is passionate about the career field and willing to put in the time and effort it takes to achieve success. After all, they didn't go out and certify themselves in just any career cluster, but instead the one that they're truly committed to.
Employers and other interested groups, such as scholarship, grant or loan committees can observe this in students. They can see when a student is willing to go the extra mile to be successful in their chosen field, and that's an attractive trait for many of them---one that can give that student an advantage over their peers.
To put it simply, the hard and soft skills a student has demonstrated by earning an industry certification will be an indicator to others the student is committed to the industry.
#9 Fulfills Graduation Requirements
While each state has a different way of measuring career readiness in high school students, some states require students to earn an industry certification as part of meeting graduation requirements.
For example, in Kentucky, students can earn an industry certification to fulfill the requirements of the Kentucky Occupational Skill Standards Assessment (KOSSA). This is the case for several other states in in regard to CTE education, as well.
If your students know what they want their careers to be and their futures to hold, then it might be the best course to have them focus on earning a certification in lieu of other educational pathways. That way, they'll be equipped with the qualifications they need both to graduate and join the workforce.
#10 Delivers Higher Earning Potential
Industry certification has been proven to increase earner’s salaries, some as high as 20 to 40 percent. In this sense, there is a very literal value of certification for most CTE students.
After all, there's a reason certifications are so sought after by budding professionals throughout the country---a certification can have a tremendous impact on a student's financial future.
Not only is a student who has earned an industry certification more likely to earn a higher wage than a peer who does not have an industry certification, but they're also more likely to have higher earning potential throughout their professional career compared to someone who never earned an industry certification.
Simply put, if your students want to make more money doing something they love, then a certification may be the way to go for them.
Learn more about the impact industry certifications have on salaries in this report.
Need Curriculum to Help You Teach Industry Certifications?
Earning an industry certification gives a student a head start on their educational and professional career. This is one of the main benefits of certification: how much more likely a student becomes to achieve success in their future.
So what's the next step to help your students get certified and start reaching their career goals? Well, to get started, you need a CTE curriculum specifically aligned with the most prestigious industry certifications. To that end, consider the iCEV curriculum!
This curriculum is aligned with some of the most popular certifications out there. It includes videos, activities, assessments, and more, each designed to prep students come exam day: