University education is very important when looking for a job. However, it is mostly needed just to distinguish you amongst the others and that the employer in business, law or health sector would even draw an attention to what else you have to offer. And that ‘what else’ is the most important section in your CV or any job application.
These days everyone knows that college or university education is no longer valued that much. This is clear considering the fact that there are over 300 institutions in the UK including universities, colleges of higher education and further education colleges that offer higher education courses. Consider the fact how many people attend those institutions and graduate each year.
As for this reason the UK kind of invented professional certifications which you achieve through work, study and experience. These are offered and awarded by different bodies, for instance:
- The Chartered Institute of Marketing
- The Chartered Institute for IT
- The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys
- The Chartered Institute of Taxation
- The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health
And the list goes on and on…
Therefore, virtually to be a little bit more distinctive from the crowd you need to be a member of one of these “societies” and hold one of the certificates they offer.
What are Chartered Institutes?
There are more than 750 Chartered Institutes in the UK. These are professional bodies which issue royal charters. A Royal Charter changes a body from a collection of individuals into a single legal entity. Once incorporated by Royal Charter, amendments to the Charter and by-laws require government approval. To put it simple these are organisations which have a licence to operate and are not just common societies, therefore, have high reputation and recognition. As for this reason, it is considered to have a privilege and honour as a member of one.
The benefits of holding a professional body certificate
- Adds value to your CV
- Confirms that you are professional (however, ridiculous that sounds)
- Gives some honour for employer to have you in his team
- Increases your chances for promotion & better salary
- Demonstrates your dedication to the job sector you are in (the certificate in IT generally would not give you any benefit if you look for a job in environmental health sector, whilst if you have a job related certificate it will be less likely (from employer’s point of view) that you are not going to run off whenever you get offered more money)
- Through studying it deepens and widens your knowledge of the work you do
- Chartered membership confirms to peers and employers that you have delivered against the activities, knowledge and behaviours set for the Chartered Member criteria
What do those silly letters mean alongside the names of some professionals mean?
If you a member of professional body and have a Chartered status (usually you can become one if you pass their assessment and have at least 10 years of experience) they allow you to use the professional designation Chartered “SILLY LETTERS” after your name. So say if you were Certified Management Accountant you could use “John Smith ACMA” in your signature. Whist if you are also a member of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners you could go “John Smith ACMA CFE”.
And the main reason why I personally suggest you start working on one is that they are relatively cheap in comparison to the University education. Currently you probably would pay at least £4,000 a year for your Masters degree. Whereas the certificates offered by Chartered Institutes would usually cost less, sometimes as much as £500 for the whole certificate including study packs and exams.
Another good thing is that you can be part qualified. Let’s say you have passed two exams out of three which are counting towards your certificate. You generally receive a diploma for each exam passed and you can already put that into your CV! Whilst unfinished University degree does not really make much of the difference plus it requires much more work and dedication in order to graduate.
So I suggest go through the list of Professional Bodies, choose whatever you want to do and get on with your studying. It is really worth it!
Btw, everything also applies to any competence-based qualifications that are useful to hold if you do not already have University or College degree.