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Certifications- are they essential?


Jason Kugel Yulee, FL

I know many positions in my career area specify CPP and other ASIS certifications are preferred, or required, or need to be obtained within a certain time frame if you're hired. My background is 10 years in aviation maintenance and 11 in Law Enforcement/Physical Security. I'm going to get my ASIS certs, CPP and hopefully PSP. Clearly they will help with breaking into Security management. I also want to get Project Management Professional and CISSP, because many companies are hiring "Security Specialists" and expect Physical AND IT systems Security capability from the same person. I also believe PMP AND CISSP would help me land a position in any field, at the supervisor/mid manager levels. Can anyone provide some insight into certifications, their value, and what, if any are "good to have" no matter what and will help me market myself better?

2 March 2014 8 replies Education & Training



Eddie Negron Ladson, SC

Jason, there are a few factors to consider in order to answer that question. First and foremost, if the job descriptions states "required" or "desired", then yes, certification is essential. While "required" is obvious, "desired" generally means they'll hire the person with the certification over the person who is not certified if all other things are equal.

Second, do an analysis of your peers in this area. Seek them out in LinkedIn and find out what their education, experience, and certification levels are. If you see a trend, that should be an indicator to you what is essential.

Do a job search for the field you want to go in to in your area as well outside your area and see what the common requirements are. Research job descriptions from several companies. If certification seems to be a standard requirement then yes they are essential.

Finally, if you are looking to land a job as a GS employee or government contractor, depending on the field, certifications are not only essential but they are required in order to keep your job.

Personally from my experience employers want the most qualified individual not the one who just meets the basic requirements. What makes you stand out? What gives you that edge?

3 March 2014 Helpful answer


David Bonner Riverside, CA

In my career field of Aviation Maintenance certifications are essential and required per FAA regulations. I know in some fields they help to bolster your resume and show your willingness to make yourself more marketable. The way I look at it is an employer may have specific needs and only interview those who have certain certifications leaving those who do not out. Now you may be that stronger candidate, but because you do not have a certification you won't even get the invite to the interview.

Recently, I had a need for an Administrator. One of the key skills this person had to have was the ability to build presentations in powerpoint with experience in this area. Powerpoint is not a certification, but everyone who did not have this ability and experience was already a non-qualifier. So you can imagine the same holds true for a certification.

I say get all that you can and make yourself as competive as you can in your career field. If the job posting mentions a certification you want to make sure you have it. Once you get on the interview the rest will speak for itself.

David Bonner
Aircraft Maint. Mgr.

3 March 2014 Helpful answer


Damin Kirk North Charleston, SC


They are helpful, not essential. Your experience in the subject area is more important. If your resume is tailored to the job description, you should be ok in most cases.

3 March 2014 Helpful answer


Jason Kugel Yulee, FL

Mr. Phil,
Indeed I have those documents, and I have created a "ME" binder with those documents, college transcripts, all my Dean's list certificates and Evals and Fitreps. As I was putting them into the binder, I was thinking exactly what you suggest. I was reading them and saying to myself "Oh man, just plagiarize these!!" I appreciate the suggestion though, because I didn't really get them for resume work, but instead to bring along to job fairs or interviews. Thanks for taking the time to respond to my question.
Mr. Gordon,
I do understand the difference between the 2 certifications, but I've been working on a way to sell myself as a manager of programs, people, projects and budgets ( I can't think of another P for money). With that being said, I almost need CISSP because so many "Security" related jobs seem to want a physical AND IT security person in one. I guess it saves money. The PMP was or will be aimed at a person seeing my resume and thinking "Wow, military people can manage projects?" I've found that there are some common misperceptions out there in HR offices about what exactly we do and how in the military. I appreciate your advice though, and in fact I've been thinking about just going straight away from security and getting a degree in Computer Science and specializing in System/Network security. I've also seen quite a few jobs asking for IT security auditors, and CISSP appears quite a bit. Thanks for taking the time to help me out, I really appreciate it.


Phil C. Fort Worth, TX


Have you looked at your military training transcript?

What about how your military schools and training related to the academic world?

Perhaps looking your skills, training and experience up in those systems will allow you to better convey yourself on a resume.

I below is what I could find in the Army for a Senior Aircraft Electrician (E-6). Navy training is probably more thorough...



Exhibit Dates: 9/09–Present.

Career Management Field: 15 (Aviation).

Supervises, inspects and performs aviation unit (AVUM), intermediate (AVIM) and depot electrical maintenance on aircraft electrical systems.
Supervises and provides technical guidance to subordinate personnel performing aircraft electrical and instrument system maintenance; evaluates maintenance operations and facilities for compliance with directives, technical manuals, work standards, safety procedures, and operational policies; performs maintenance trend analysis and applies production control, quality control and other maintenance management principles and procedures to aircraft electrical and instrument system maintenance, and shop operations; instructs personnel and conducts technical training in aircraft electrical and instrument system maintenance, supply and safety techniques; evaluates the technical training program; monitors requisition of parts, tools, and supplies; manages people in the environment; organizes development techniques; influences behavior at work and the factors that contribute to interpersonal relations; and effectively communicates verbally and in writing.

Related Competencies
Introduction to human resource management topics include conflict resolution, cultural diversity, health and safety, job analysis, managerial ethics, performance appraisals, staffing, and training and delivery. Introduction to management topics include logistical support planning, operations execution, oral and written communications, planning and coordinating projects, safety procedures development, and scheduling. Electronics systems troubleshooting and repair topics include Airborne Directions Finder (ADF) fundamentals, aircraft data systems inspection, aircraft wiring troubleshooting, electronic inspection, global positioning system (GPS), parameter measurements, quality control concepts, and radar principles. Computer applications topics include Adobe applications, basic computer skills, computer hardware, database management, Microsoft applications, and scheduling. Avionics topics include advisory systems, avionics test equipment, communication systems, digital flight display systems, identification friend or foe (IFF) systems, navigation systems, and radar warning systems. Aircraft electrical systems topics include AC/DC, aircraft wiring, airframe and related systems, control display unit (CDU), electrical power systems, electrical troubleshooting and maintenance, and instrumentation.

In the lower-division baccalaureate/associate degree category, 3 semester hours in introduction to human resource management, 3 in introduction to management, 3 in electronics systems troubleshooting and repair, and 3 in computer applications. In the upper-division baccalaureate degree category, 3 semester hours in avionics and 3 in aircraft electrical systems (1/13)(1/13).


Jason Kugel Yulee, FL

Mr. Craig-
Excellent point. It's certainly now a perspective I had taken before. On the one hand, I like the notion that adding CISSP or PMP to my resume may make my name pop more than it has, but on the other, I don't want people to stop there. With such a strong background in physical security, I want to add CISSP because so many positions in the industry will say "Security Specialist" and want not only an individual to manage the physical security at a site or sites, but also to interface with IT departments. I think that when I obtain the cert, I will probably only list it for those specific positions. Thanks for taking the time to answer my question.


Craig Bush Boston, MA

It seems to me that certs really act as a way to commoditize skill and talent. That can be good and bad. It's good because it allows one to quantify experience and makes programming job websites like Monster and Dice easy... round peg, round hole. It's bad because ultimately once you do this, it's a race to the bottom in terms of compensation, where the lowest bidder with the same "cert" gets the job. I've seen this several times with outsourcing to India with IT work. On paper everything looks good, but the reality and the modeled cost savings are sometimes very far off from expectations.

Somehow, I have to think, that's not necessarily a good plan when searching for people. There's value in soft skills.


Jason Kugel Yulee, FL

Mr. Damin- short, sweet and to the point. Thanks very much for the perspective.
Mr. David- When I worked on P3s in Hawaii, I did all the legwork and got approval to take my A&P, but when I PCSd, my "Navy Box" had disappeared. 8 years worth of evals, quals, and souvenirs- and of course, A&P paperwork. I wish I had gotten it, even though I ultimately changed over to military police. I can definitely see the value in adding certifications into the "continuing education" group. Thanks for the perspective on even something like Power Point, I hadn't considered how that could be a deal- breaker like that.
Mr. Eddie- As much as I've been job hunting, I hadn't really considered comparing positions for certifications as a theme. Of course security now has ASIS, and CPP or PSP are pretty much a given- but now I'm going to look out for the certs I'm not so familiar with to see what the common theme is with those positions. Thanks for answering my question.

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