The technology sector is open to self-taught professionals. Many industry leaders -- Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, for example -- never finished college, and more than a few top programmers -- such as John Carmack -- are self-taught.
They started their own businesses, however, so getting a job with an established organization might require more formal education. And nothing says education like an industry certification. Whether your position is in security, IT management or business process management (BPM), the right certifications can open doors.
In addition, professionals with a BPM certification earn approximately 20% more than those who are not certified; a BPM-certified professional earns in the low six figures, while a noncertified professional's salary is in the high $90,000 range.
There are three primary reasons to take a certification program:
- Credibility. Certification from a well-regarded school, program or course offers proof of your expertise. Top certifications from accredited schools provide validation that you have been trained and educated in the right skills for a particular industry.
- Marketability. Having a certification in a specific field can help you stand out in a competitive market. While a self-taught individual can be quite knowledgeable, employers naturally gravitate toward someone with a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certificate.
- Staying current. Technology is always evolving, so many programs require recertification on an annual or regular basis. This increases your value to an employer and separates you from the competition.
What is a BPM certification?
As defined by Gartner, business process management employs methods to discover, model, analyze, measure, improve, and optimize business strategy and processes.
BPM is broader and more involved than simple task and project management. Task or project management focuses on individual tasks, while BPM observes the process from end to end. Project management refers to a one-time project, while BPM focuses specifically on processes that are repeatable and can be used from one project to the next, with the processes tweaked and modified as needed.
Numerous organizations offer BPM training and certification, but their education processes vary because there is no industry standard. A best practice is to evaluate offerings from the biggest associations, such as the BPM Institute and the Association of Business Process Management Professionals (ABPMP) International.
BPM certification also helps employers define job objectives, evaluate candidates, assess employee performance, and motivate employees to enhance their skills and knowledge.
Business process management certification courses
The following 10 certification programs offer online classes and in-person tutoring at local education centers. Tests are also administered online and in person. Most classes offer video on demand so you can download and watch lectures at your own pace.
Course details/course(s) offered: Certified Business Process Associate (CBPA), Certified Business Process Professional (CBPP), Certified Business Process Leader (CBPL).
Who should take this course: Anyone wanting a career in BPM.
- CBPA. 1,250 hours of documented working experience in a business process-related area or a four-year qualifying university degree, complete application, pass exam and sign ABPMP Code of Ethics.
- CBPP. Four years of business process experience, six months credit for other certifications, complete application and pass exam.
- CBPL. 10 years of business process experience, five years of business transformation project management, CBPP certification and six months credit for other certifications, complete application and pass exam.
Course details/course(s) offered: Varied levels of skill in Six Sigma, ranked by martial arts-style colored belts. Belts include yellow, green and black. White and yellow belts are not required to take green belt.
Who should take this course: Anyone looking to improve organizational operation, reduce errors, improve compliance and rise to a management position.
Requirements: Web-based or in-person exam and achieve a minimum score of 70%.
Course details/course(s) offered: ITIL Foundation, ITIL Specialist, ITIL Strategist, ITIL Leader, ITIL Master.
Who should take this course: Anyone wishing to be certified in IT service management.
Requirements: 2.5 days of classroom instruction.
4. Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP)
Course details/course(s) offered: 10 online courses taken at your speed.
Who should take this course: Anyone looking for a career path with specialized knowledge of the technology industry.
Requirements: 7,500 hours of business analysis work experience in the last 10 years, 900 hours of which should be in four out of the six Business Analysis Body of Knowledge Guide Version 3 knowledge areas. You also need a minimum of 35 hours of professional development in the past four years.
Course details/course(s) offered: 20 hours of continuing professional development, half of which are structured learning activities approved by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy or a legally constituted state authority; up to half can be unstructured/nontraditional.
Who should take this course: Certified public accountants (CPAs) looking to bridge business and technology and looking for training and experience in IT assurance, risk, security and privacy, analytics and technology.
Requirements: CPA license in good standing and AICPA membership.
6. Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO)
Course details/course(s) offered: Two-day course to start that teaches students to guide their teams and build successful products at Agile speed, while creating customer satisfaction.
Who should take this course: Product owner looking to decide what an Agile team will create next to deliver more value to the customer.
Requirements: Four to eight hours per day over a two- to three-day period, depending on the certification, with a live online interactive course.
7. Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
Course details/course(s) offered: Two parts, 150-170 recommended hours of study per part. Study includes planning and budgeting, performance analysis and management, investment decisions and financial reporting.
Who should take this course: Accountants looking to learn the "why" behind financial figures.
Requirements: Twelve to 18 months to complete both parts, on average, with up to three years allowed to complete both parts. Recommend 150 to 170 hours of study per part. Additionally, two-part test covering 12 competencies.
Course details/course(s) offered: 12 modules on varying aspects of team management and leadership, such as influencing team members and how to build and train a team.
Who should take this course: New and beginner managers looking to be a team builder and leader.
Requirements: 19 hours of on-demand video.
Course details/course(s) offered: Eight courses on the basics of operations management in manufacturing and service organizations.
Who should take this course: Anyone looking to gain a working understanding of the operations functions in a service or manufacturing organization.
Requirements: 27 downloadable lectures spanning nearly two hours.
Course details/course(s) offered: Learn Lean business processes to improve efficiency. Lean businesses are those that operate with maximum efficiency and minimal waste of effort.
Who should take this course: Any manager looking to reduce waste associated with a project.
Requirements: Five sections, 20 lectures, two hours and 25 minutes total length.