In 2010 I went through the process of attaining my CompTIA Certified Technical Trainer (CTT+) designation.

The process was brutal and intense, but I expected it to be so. The 3 day class consisted of 10-15 hour days, course material presented in class (instructor preparation, training techniques, dealing with students and specific situations, etc.), exam prep, the exam itself, and then recording Experience Certification a video to present to CompTIA. The purpose of the video is to showcase your knowledge and presentation skills. I found out that not just anyone can pass the CompTIA CTT certification – rather, you must already be at a high level within your career – because the requirements are not easy to meet. This is true of other certifications as well.

Why have certifications?

Also called designations, certifications are recognized in different industries, and can increase credibility for an individual in a specific career. Certifications can increase your credibility and replace your former corporate identity if you’re self-employed. Typically certifications indicate a certain level of proficiency or competency in a career field (eg. technical training) or area of expertise. In addition, certifications take significantly less time (and usually less money) to attain than a Master’s or other degree.

Specifically in the case of CompTIA CTT+, a technical training certification demonstrates that a person is capable of teaching complex concepts to others. This is an interesting idea, because I have seen many cases where an instructor actually wrote the book or training manual used in class, but when they got up to speak they mumbled through the lecture and could not explain a concept! Just because a person knows a certain software package inside-and-out, doesn’t mean that they can teach it!

Before I become Certified Life Coach (another certification!), I taught software classes in the field of GIS (Geographic Information Systems) for 15 years. At that time, I had several certifications from different manufacturers in GIS and GPS (Global Positioning Systems), as GIS and GPS go hand-in-hand. I also have a GISP (GIS Professional), which is a fairly new certification for professionals who have worked in GIS for a certain number of years, and have a certain level of experience in the field. Currently there are only about 5000 GISPs, which if you think about it, is a very small percentage of the world’s population.

Certifications can be issued by a manufacturer (software, industry, or technical), as is the case with MicroSoft, Cisco (CCNA, CCNP, CCIE), Novell, and ESRI, to name a few. CompTIA certifications are vendor neutral, and are designed to show that an individual possesses certain skills, knowledge, and expertise across a wide range of industries. A CompTIA certification demonstrates overall competency in the IT field, rather than with a certain brand of software; there are many CompTIA certifications other than the CTT.

Some certifications can be combined, and thus have more value, such as CompTIA and MicroSoft. If you are looking for a job, you should know that certain combinations of certifications are rare and will make your resume stand out against any other resume an employer receives. A PMP is a Project Management Professional. According to PMI (Project Management Institute), there are 460,000 PMPs, but there are even fewer PMPs who also have their GISP, thus making that combination particularly attractive to certain employers (looking for GIS Project Managers). Other valuable combinations that come to mind are: PMP with a CSM (Certified ScrumMaster), and CPA with a CFP (Certified Public Accountant, Certified Financial Planner).

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