personal finance

Want a Raise Or Better Job? Consider These Four Professional Certifications

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The economic chaos caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has caused financial stress in many households. However, there are opportunities to improve your value on the job market and achieve your financial goals. Although many people find themselves working from home, or with reduced hours of employment, it could be the ideal time to acquire a professional certification that helps increase salary and expand professional possibilities. Here are four certifications that can turbo-charge your earnings potential.

1. Project Management Professional (PMP)

The PMP is a highly regarded certification for those who wish to manage projects within companies, especially in the technology sector and the commercial area. Offered by the Project Management Institute, the requirements to obtain certification include:

  • 60 months leading and directing projects
  • A high school diploma (or global equivalent)
  • 35 hours of project management education (these hours can be skipped if you are CAPM certified)

Or, you can alternatively qualify by having:

  • Four-year degree diploma
  • 36 months leading and directing projects
  • 35 hours of project management education (these hours can be skipped if you are CAPM certified)

These satisfy the prerequisites for taking the PMP exam, which costs approximately $405 for PMI members ($555 for non-members). Preparation for the exam can be via self-study, or you can enroll in a preparatory program offered by various universities.

Individuals who were PMP certified reported median salaries that were 26% higher than those who were not PMP certified in the United States ($120,000 vs. $95,000), according to PMI's Earning Power: Project Management Salary Survey Report.

Financial advisor Derek Dobin suggests the PMP as a resource for many professionals seeking an advantage in the workplace.

"It's a really well-regarded credential that I've seen open up a lot of doors and increase salaries."

2. Certified Associate in Project Management

Similarly, the CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management) certification paves the way in the same field for those with less on-the-job or educational experience. Requirements to sit for the certification exam include:

  • A high school diploma or its global equivalent.
  • 23 hours of project management education. The Project Management Basics online course offered by PMI meets this educational prerequisite.
  • The cost of the exam is $225 for PMI members ($300 for non-members). On average, a CAPM can earn an average of $88,000 annually, or 25% above a project manager without certification.

3. Certified Scrum Master

Helping professional teams develop new projects in an agile way and with the concepts of the lean method is the purpose of the Certified Scrum Master certification, which is highly in demand, particularly in the tech sector. By completing a 25-hour course and taking a licensure exam, you will be able to receive this valuable certification, which will qualify you for positions that pay an average of $135,000, though salaries vary widely based on your experience level, industry, and location.

"Scrum masters have really become a popular credentialing for a growing career field," says Dobin.

4. Digital Marketing

If you love connecting with others through the internet and social media, a digital marketing certification could open up a lot of opportunities. And in many cases, the most valuable certifications can be obtained for free. You can learn to use most Google marketing tools, such as Google Ads, Google Marketing, or Google Analytics for free. Google Digital Garage offers a free official certification in digital marketing fundamentals. And the popular HubSpot also offers free courses in social media marketing, and so much more. On average, a digital marketer can earn about $ 58,000 annually, while a digital marketing manager makes an average of $ 98,000.

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Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.

This story has been updated with additional salary, certification criteria and pricing information.

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