Independent consultants are pursued by clients for subject matter expertise demonstrated through their project history and work experience. But as you’re beefing up your resume, don’t underestimate the value of continuing education and certifications. These investments will both increase your hourly rate and make you more attractive to prospective clients. In the IT industry, for example, 54% of industry professionals have pursued some form of certification, and CIO estimates that these programs can add 8-16% to your base pay.
Here are six continuing education resources that we recommend for consultants:
SAP’s Training & Certification center hosts a range of education materials ranging from formal certification to blogs and forums. SAP certifications are among the most widely recognized and most reputable, but are only advantageous if accompanied by corresponding work experience. In this regard, they’re most useful to professionals who want to support their current day-to-day tasks with classroom education. If you’re considering an SAP certification but aren’t ready to commit yet, try registering for openSAP, a free knowledge center with MOOCs that vary from platform-specific training to multidisciplinary topics.
If you’re looking for a certification in project management, PMI is the place to go. The organization’s training programs combine technical, strategic, and leadership components for a well-rounded educational experience. These certifications aren’t just for project managers; career consultants in other areas such as IT who wish to advance into management roles should take a serious look at PMP certification as well. For more formal education options, take a look at PMI’s Global Accreditation Center Directory, which lists accredited postsecondary programs in project management.
APICS training programs are geared towards supply chain management professionals and include a handful of full-length certifications in addition to shorter workshops and seminars. For consultants who are new to APICS, the CSCP certification program is most recommended as it encompasses a wider scope of knowledge than the organization’s other courses. This particular certification boasts an average 12% salary increase upon completion.
ISACA is our recommended resource for IT-specific professional education. This organization offers the top three highest-paying IT certifications on the market, so you know you’ll get more bang for your buck. ISACA programs are tailored towards mid- to manager-level IT professionals who meet specific education and work history requirements. These prerequisites change depending on the certification, but you should plan to have at least five years of industry experience before applying.
Knowledge of Workday’s HR and financial management software is in high demand. A wide range of courses and learning materials are available through its Education Services division. While Workday used to restrict access to certain employees and partners, in 2015 the firm introduced Workday Pro, a certification geared towards customers that opened up accessibility to nearly any professional.
Salesforce is considered the pinnacle of CRM technology, so it’s no surprise their certifications are just as reputable. Courses begin with the entry-level Salesforce Administrator Certification and work their way up from there. There’s also a diverse range of specializations available, with certifications tailored to specific fields such as developers, marketing professionals, and consultants.
Looking for something more intensive? Many universities and other academic institutions offer continuing education and certification programs for professionals at all levels. In fact, our founder Michael Waitzman is currently completing a MS in Computer Information Systems Management at Northwestern University. If you’re looking for a specific program from an accredited academic institution in your area, try reaching out to one of the organizations we’ve listed above for guidance. And as always, we’re here to help.