2018 Is Coming: What Are Your Certification Plans?
OK, so now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, all that's left between you and 2018 is Christmas and New Year's Eve. That means it's time to start thinking about (and planning for) your career enhancements and certification maintenance for 2018.
To that end, I present a Top 5 list of "advance resolutions" to help you gear up, get ready, and take care of (certification and career) business next year.
1) Ladies and Gentlemen: Check Your Certification Portfolios
These days the best certifications comply with ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024. That means they need to be renewed through retesting or maintained through continuing education.
In turn, that means you need to review your certification portfolio to determine what needs doing in 2018 to maintain currency in the certifications you'd like to keep active. You can check in with the cert sponsors to get information on what counts toward maintenance, and how test objectives or requirements have changed.
Make a list of action items and give them calendar dates for start and completion! That will help keep you on track.
2) Revisit Your Career Priorities and Interests
In addition to whatever technical, training and certification body of work you've already undertaken and completed, now's a good time to be thinking about what's new and what's next for yourself, career- and certification-wise. You might want to take a look at some of my two dozen-plus stories for Tom's IT Pro under the general heading of "Best Certifications" to find out where the action is, and in which directions you might like to start growing your career.
Pick a topic or two to start digging into for 2018: even if it doesn't lead to certification, it should broaden your horizons and possibly even expand your opportunities.
3) Take a Chance & Take a Course
The smash phenomenon known as Massively Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, is a real star in today's constellation of training offerings. Most of them are low-cost/no-cost, too, depending on whether you care about getting credit for them or not.
Check out the MOOC Search Engine to dig into any or all of the topics, tools, and technologies you decide you might want to learn more about. There are thousands of courses to choose from, many featuring content from top-flight academic institutions or high-tech organizations.
4) Think About Funding Your Career Upkeep and Enhancement Activities
The old saying goes "You get what you pay for." What costs must you bear for 2018 to keep your certs up? These could include costs for training or continuing education, testing, or study/prep materials. You'll want to put at least a couple of budgets together to guide both your saving and spending behavior for 2018.
One of those budgets should be bare-bones — that is, the cheapest option for each of the costs you must shoulder in 2018. The other should be one that includes all that stuff, plus the things you've identified as either important or otherwise worthy of pursuit in 2018.
Inevitably, you'll end up splitting the difference, but it's nice to know what you have to have in 2018, money-wise, and what you could spend on career and certification upkeep and enhancement if the money's available to you.
While you're at it, ask your boss or your HR department about what kinds of support they could provide in 2018, by way of training and certification funding. The easiest money to spend on such things is always money contributed by other people, so use it if you can.
5) Look for Community, Synergy, and Fun
Don't forget that you're not alone in your quest for career and certification development and maintenance. Make 2018 the year that you join a new user group or opt into an active online community with energy and commitment. You can gain insight and benefit from combining multiple viewpoints and perspectives in such group activities.
Take advantage of what other people know and have done, and share your own learning and experiences with others, too. It's a great way to network professionally, as well as to develop long-term personal and professional relationships to help you keep learning and growing for years to come.
The main thing about all these activities is to think and plan ahead so that you can develop some goals for 2018, and then start knocking them off systematically as the New Year progresses.
If you start thinking things over now and getting ready for what's to come, then you'll be that much closer to achieving your career and certification goals. Remember to have some fun along the way, too.