Finding the Right Credential: Meeting Your Potential
As your clients resolve to shed bad habits and holiday pounds, you probably have a few personal goals of your own this year. Maybe you want to better help clients in the new year or advance your career. Maybe you want to start your own business or increase your earning potential.
Upping your game in these ways often requires additional education—including certification or even a degree. Perhaps you have a professional development plan in place, and that’s great. However, if you’re just beginning to plan your next move, here are a few things to consider:
Some Credentials Pack More of a Punch
There are great certification and degree programs out there, but not all of them offer the same value. Make sure that whatever program you enroll in provides a nationally recognized credential.
In addition, consider whether a certificate or certification will get you as far as you want to go. It may—but you may need a degree instead.
After all, a minimum of an associate’s or bachelor’s degree is mandatory in many fitness industry jobs—and as industry and state standards continue to evolve, these degrees are becoming even more important. In addition, moving into a management position often requires a master’s degree.
If you do go for a degree, any program you consider should have these characteristics:
- Accreditations from and partnerships with relevant nationally recognized organizations
- Certifications that are embedded into the program
- Faculty members who are experts in the field and still apply those skills in everyday practice
Reluctance Is Natural
Going back to school is not an easy step to take—particularly for those who already have a full-time job or who have been out of the classroom for a while.
Earning any credential is an investment of time and other resources. However, that is magnified for those thinking about earning a degree, and they face a lot of the same issues that your clients do: fear of failure, self-doubt and other uncertainty, time constraints, and trouble getting motivated.
But if you keep coming back to the conclusion that you need to get a degree, explore it further. Don’t let the obstacles or the negative thoughts automatically nix the idea.
Many students just like you earn their degree through the 100% online exercise science program at California University of Pennsylvania (Cal U). They have family obligations and limited time and resources. They manage to balance life and work to earn a degree.
There are three basic characteristics that most of these successful students share:
- They’re passionate. They don’t just like what they do—they love it. They’re hungry to learn more or to find new and better ways of doing their jobs.
- They’re good at time management. They already have time management skills as part of their job, and they’re able to translate that into balancing life and work with school.
- They have specific career goals and know where they want to go. Plus, they’ve carefully considered how the degree they’re pursuing can get them there.
With these characteristics, you can succeed, too.
Start Small if You Need To
If you have been out of the classroom for a while and don’t know how you’d do, consider earning a certificate first. Look for a degree program that offers a certificate option. Going for a certificate allows you to test the waters and see if this type of coursework is right for you. You’ll get a credential for your resumé, and the certificate coursework may count toward your degree.