In a world where competition for jobs, pay increases, and academic success continues to increase, certifications offer hope because they are a credible, third-party assessment of one’s skill and knowledge for a given subject. According to a study conducted across the state of Florida, those who earn certifications while in school are more likely to have a higher GPA, are more likely to graduate, are more likely to enroll in a post-secondary program, and are less likely to dropout. Furthermore, once the candidate is in the workforce, certification improves a candidate’s marketability and earning power, with some professionals making up to 7% more than their non-certified colleagues.
Building a certification program from the ground up often involves significant legwork from educators and administrators. Get advice below on the best ways to build a successful certification program at your school.
Research Funding Options
One of the common issues faced by many educators is a lack of funding. Asking for additional budget to grow or increase resources in your classroom can be a frustrating process.
Luckily, there are funding sources dedicated to expanding career and technical education. Educators can explore a variety of funding options: The Carl D. Perkins Act; federal and state grants; and non-traditional options. The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act is designed to increase the quality of career and technical education (CTE) across the United States. The Perkins Act provides almost $1.3 billion in federal support for career and technical education programs in all 50 states, including support for integrated career pathways programs.
In addition to the Perkins Act, each state will most likely have programs and grants that you can access. For example, California has established the Career Technical Education Incentive Grant (CTEIG), which provides funding for K12 institutions who help prepare students with the knowledge and skills necessary to transition to employment and postsecondary education.
If you’re ready to go the non-traditional route, consider connecting with your local library or workforce services team, your PTA chapter, or even leverage Donors Choose to gather contributions from your community.
Decide on the Program Structure
Once you’ve secured funding, you’ll need to finalize your program structure. Some states, like North Carolina, have built certification pathways into their CTE program. Other states offer certifications through community centers and workforce development programs. There’s no right or wrong way to structure your certification program. It’s important to consider which course of action will work best for your school, district, and state.
If you decide to incorporate certifications into existing courses, keep in mind the prevalence of technology in today’s job landscape. Certifying students’ technology skills first and foremost provides a solid foundation for any career path they choose. Whether students pursue careers in construction management, IT, culinary arts, or organizational leadership, they’ll be set up for success.
Market the Program
You’ve done all the legwork, but it’s not enough to build the program. You need to get students in seats and make sure they’re learning successfully. Make sure to market your program throughout the year, but especially when students are registering for classes. Connect with guidance counselors to make students aware of your program and its many benefits. You can also get students excited through club week, or by partnering with organizations like National Honor Society and Future Business Leaders of America.
Marketing your program doesn’t need to stop with students. Connect with other educators to show how certifications can help students be successful in their classes. Bring in experts from the community to help students understand how certifications are leveraged in the real world. Those who have earned certifications are incredible advocates for their value and relevance in the workforce.
While in college, Bruce Beuzard IV was able to earn a staggering 13 industry-recognized certifications. Bruce was able to put those certifications on his resume, landing him a job as a Data Center Technician at Amazon Web Services. Bruce encourages students to get certified, “A lot of companies love when applicants have earned certifications because it serves as a form of work experience. For any student running into roadblocks getting their degree, I totally recommend getting certified. Certifications can help you achieve the career of your dreams.”
Networking with professionals, like Bruce, also creates connections for internships and jobs for students in your classroom, allowing them to apply their certified knowledge and gain valuable work experience. After all, that’s what education is all about. Creating opportunities for students to succeed as productive employees and citizens in their communities.
Interested in learning more about the value of certifications for your students? Get a free digital kit here.