Certifications are not just for the employed because they can be equally beneficial for those that are self-employed, such as freelancers.
The benefits of getting a certification can include enhanced knowledge, more clients, more authority in the field, and more income.
Some creatives do not have certifications available to them, but it is very much an option for programmers, IT professionals, web developers, and graphic designers.
Certifications are generally not required by most clients, but some of them will prefer to hire certified professionals because they view them as being more qualified, higher skilled, and more reliable. Here are some of the most useful credentials for freelancers to pursue.
1. Adobe Certified Expert
Adobe offers a wide variety of certifications for their programs for becoming Adobe Certified Experts, such as experts in Photoshop, Illustrator, or Flash. All of these certifications can be tremendously helpful for graphic designers, animators, or videographers that need to update their skills and attract more clients.
This is rarely required to land creative freelance work, but it does help people see you as an expert in your field. Adobe Certified Expert status is especially helpful if you do any training, teaching, or want to write content for professional publications. Getting certified with Adobe could open you to additional exposure and income potential.
2. Project Management Professional (PMP) certification
The Project Management Professional Certificate is quite popular right now. You must have a bachelor's degree and at least 5 years of experience to qualify, yet it is a credential that clients are willing to pay for.
Having that certification will allow you to command a higher price for your freelance project management work and possibly bring in higher quality clients. You can further specialize in other areas of project management, but the certification alone adds a lot of credibility.
3. CompTIA Security+
The CompTIA Security+ is a security certification for IT professionals. Network security is a specialty that is in demand, as companies are not willing to lose the confidence of their own clients over a security breach that could have been prevented. If you are going to be working with a client's sensitive customer information on their private network, then this is something they will want to see before awarding you with a project.
There are of course many technical certifications you can acquire based on your specialization, such as A+ certification for IT professionals that want to get some experience with actual hardware in terms of troubleshooting and maintenance.
4. Media Bistro Copyediting Certificate Program
There are very few certifications available for writers and editors, but if you interested in getting a certification in this area this would be a good one to start with. Media Bistro is one of the most well respected educators for media professionals and they offer a number of programs related to copywriting and copyediting. The copyediting certification will improve your editing abilities, especially if you want to work for a media organization like a magazine, television station, or newspaper.
5. AMA’s Professional Certified Marketer (PCM)
The American Marketing Association (AMA) offers a program to become a Professionals Certified Marketer. This is particularly useful for marketing consultants or other marketing professionals. The program requires you to have a bachelor's degree and at least 4 years of experience in marketing. Again, this is not a requirement, but marketers that are affiliated with the organization do tend to earn more and gain more respect from clients.
6. Zend PHP 5 Certification
The Zend PHP 5 Certification is one of the entry level offerings for web developers to prove their proficiency in the PHP programming language. This is essential if you are just getting started as a web developer because this is one of the most common programming languages. A lot of clients will expect you to know PHP and this would be one of the easiest ways to prove your skills.
7. Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert
The certification is designed to provide training and expertise in network engineering, particularly for routing and switching. This is the most difficult to attain certification that Cisco offers and it is worth its weight in gold.
IT professionals and network engineers can go a long way with this internetwork certification because clients recognize the time and effort involved to get it. You can use this to gain access to larger corporate clients or command higher prices, but be aware that it will be a challenging endeavor to complete the program.
Professional Certification Credentials
A certification is not the only path to success, but it can be helpful in terms of attaining certain skills and knowledge. Although it's not usually required for most freelancers, clients will sometimes ask about these certifications, and in some cases expect them.
Even if they do not require certification, they may be more likely to hire a freelancer that is certified. This can be especially important in IT and other technical freelance businesses. Certification is also an excellent way to stand out from other freelancers and be seen as an expert.
In order to determine whether a certification is right for you, carefully evaluate your current background and skill set, then consider if this is a skill that your clients would value. The certifications listed above are just a handful of the many quality choices available to freelancers.
What certifications do you have? Have they been helpful in landing clients? Are you considering getting a certification? Let us know in the comments below.