Certifications give students more training

Students seeking additional certifications after graduation may wish to wait. Additional training could make students in certain fields more marketable, but it may be unnecessary for others until they actually find a job.

Paulette Alexander, department chair and professor of the computer science and information systems department, said she believes that additional training for her students can help them find jobs.

Additional certifications can set someone apart when applying for a job, Alexander said. Certification programs, like project management, are faster than earning a full master’s of business administration and usually offer some overlap. Students can also become certified in focused programs like Java or Oracle.

Specific programs within a given field can make a student more marketable as a potential employee, but most degree programs try to teach students all of the skills they need without seeking additional certification.

Laketa Johnson, a senior in the social work program at UNA, believes her classes are adequately preparing her for a job in her field.

“We are qualified as general practitioners and can work everywhere,” Johnson said. “The training that you get in the social work program at UNA prepares you for what you will encounter in the field. We get enough specialized training in our classes already.”

Johnson said she may consider adding to her credentials later, but it will be after she finds a job and knows where she will be working.

UNA’s Continuing Studies and Outreach Program focuses on professional development as well as certifications in several areas.

Some programs are for personal enrichment, said Shelia Sisson, a program coordinator with continuing studies. Classes offered include song writing, dance, yoga and art. Other programs, like the pharmacy technician and paralegal certificates, involve multiple classes and prepare students to pursue a new career or look for a better job.

“We cater to nontraditional students,” said Wanda Dixon, a program coordinator with continuing studies. “They’re looking for the means to better their marketing skills for a better job.”

Another benefit of the program is that it is less time-intensive than a full degree, said Meghan Fike, a program coordinator with continuing studies. Some students work part time while trying to complete certificates.

Students taking classes with Continuing Studies cannot draw financial aid for the classes, making it difficult for current students and recent graduates to pay. Some programs, like the UNA Leadership Certificate, are designed to be as cost-efficient as possible. Other programs are approved under the Alabama Workforce Investment Act for partial financial aid.

“I think that students who graduate—not just in computing fields but in all walks of life—need to recognize the importance of continuing to learn in their chosen fields,” Alexander said.