In a competitive job market, giving yourself the upper hand might be as simple as obtaining a few certifications. This can help to build up your resume and set you apart from other candidates who may not have the certifications, or who may need a bit of additional training once hired.
Pretty much every organization benefits from having first aiders on staff, and some jobs require that all workers are certified in first aid before commencing work. This simple certification has wide application in the workplace and in your personal life, and only requires a small investment of cash and time. Classroom courses are available through American Red Cross and a variety of other providers for under $100 and can be completed in just a day or two. Online courses are also available, and are typically quite a bit cheaper than those that take place in a conventional classroom environment. The online courses typically make use of videos, reading materials and other tutorials, while those courses taught in the classroom tend to have more of a hands-on approach which is great for helping to understand the real-world situations you may encounter as a first aider.
Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS)
For many administrative and office-related positions, being proficient in the use of Microsoft Office products is essential. But how do you prove that you're proficient? Well, Microsoft offers a certification as a Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS), which essentially tests and assesses your skill level at each component of the MS Office suite. You can simply choose the part of Microsoft Office you wish to specialize in, or you can do one at a time if you want to get more than one specialization. The test is typically around $100, but there is also typically a charge applied by the testing center to administer the exam. You have the option to complete the exams without taking prior courses, but there are also online courses you can take to assist with mastering the material and preparing for the exam.
Cisco Certified Network Consultant (CCNA)
There are a wealth of certifications available in the information technology (IT) field. Among these is the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) designation which is offered by Cisco Systems. The CCNA certifies that holders are competent in the installation of various network devices and cables. Though the CCNA designation technically only requires successful completion of an exam, many choose to complete a training course before writing the exam. These training courses may cost more than a thousand dollars in some cases, though this is actually a much smaller investment than paying college or university tuition, and they can be completed in a fraction of the time. Keep in mind that there are also online courses which cost much less than the classroom-type training courses that you can take. The computer-based CCNA examination costs $125 to write, and must be organized through Cisco.
Language certifications come in essentially two forms: certifications for those that want to teach a language or for non-native speakers who want to prove that they have acquired a sufficient level of communication mastery to succeed in the workplace. Among the certifications available for those who want to teach English as a second language, TESOL, TEFL or TESL are some of the more common programs. These programs are great for those who wish to go overseas to teach English, or even for those who wish to work with newcomers to help them master the English language before heading out into the workplace. These courses can be taken in either a classroom or online setting, and are typically priced at over $1,000 for classroom-based sessions, with online versions being less expensive. A major perk of these programs is that the organizations that offer them typically also offer assistance with locating teaching jobs once the program is completed.
For those wishing to complete an English as a second language (ESL) program, these are greatly beneficial to those who have moved to an English-speaking nation and need to show potential employers that their communication skills meet the standards in reading, writing, speaking and comprehension. The cost of an ESL course can vary greatly depending upon the duration of the course and where you choose to study. A variety of post-secondary institutions and community colleges offer these programs. Keep in mind that many of these courses tend to cost quite a bit – perhaps even a few thousand dollars if you go through a recognized college or university – but the strength it'll add to your employability could be priceless.
Forklift Operator's License
For those looking for work in a warehouse or other industrial or commercial settings, completion of a forklift operation course can be a huge asset. These courses can be completed in about half a day, and for anywhere between $50 and $100. These courses generally teach safe operating procedures, legal responsibilities, load management and how to deal with hazards for a couple of different types of forklifts. If you do have a specific type of work in mind, it is a good idea to find out what types of equipment are used in that industry to ensure that you register in the appropriate training course.
The Bottom Line
It's a competitive job market out there. If you want to make sure that hiring managers see your resume, you have to do something to set yourself apart. Investing in a few simple, inexpensive training courses or certifications might be just enough to give you a leg up on the competition.