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September 2nd, 2014

Certifications: the new key to employment

A professional certification may not always be a job requirement, but it is often a deciding factor between qualified candidates. In fact, technology is one of the most in-demand career fields, but recent graduates and professionals are both struggling to find new jobs or get promoted because they don’t have a certification – a third-party validation of their skills.

One of the most sought-after career credentials in the tech industry is the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Routing and Switching. Tech professionals with this certification take home salaries that are, on average, 16.7 percent higher than their uncertified peers, according to a Fairfield Research study. This certification acknowledges that someone is skilled to install, configure, operate and troubleshoot routed and switched networks.

“Studies show that chief information officers prefer Cisco Certified professionals because they are 42 percent more effective at resolving issues and decrease network downtime by 32 percent,” says Stephanie Kelly, corporate affairs business development for Cisco, citing results of a 2013 Employer Value of Cisco Certification and Training study. “Employers prefer to have someone they know is fully capable of handling a very technical, niche job.”

Despite the growing demand from employers and because certifications aren’t an industry or government mandate, some recent graduates and professionals try to play the odds and skip additional credentials due to the financial obstacle. Between study materials, pre-tests and exams, certifications can cost as much as $ 1,000. Now, select career colleges, like Westwood College, are pitching in by paying for their students’ exams to help attain a certification in their chosen field.

“We began running CCNA Routing and Switching review courses for students who passed courses offered through the Cisco Networking Academy. Students who took advantage of and successfully completed the review course were issued a voucher worth the cost of the exams,” says Dean Gouin, chief executive officer of Westwood College. “We know it takes a lot of work to achieve this credential and we believe it is important so we’ll continue to encourage our students to challenge themselves to do so.”

In addition to paying for the exams, Westwood, a nationally accredited on-campus and online career college, also covers the exam costs for medical assisting graduates to help them attain Certified Medical Assistants status. In addition to the actual exam, the college pays for practice exams and ensures all study materials are pre-purchased. Visit tech.westwood.edu for more information and behind-the-scenes footage about the college, and specific programs such as CCNA Routing and Switching.

To learn more about the Cisco Certified Network Associate Routing and Switching, visit learningnetwork.cisco.com. For more information on Certified Medical Assistants, visit the American Association of Medical Assistants at www.aama-ntl.org.


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