Everyone seems to have an interest in earning more money. Most of us are continually looking for ways to boost our income and earn more for spending, saving and paying down debt. However, it’s not always easy to add a zero or two to the end of a paycheck. Aside from getting a second job or asking for a raise, increasing what’s in your savings account can be a pretty difficult task.
In many cases, you don’t have to work 60 hours a week or beg your boss for an increase in pay. Almost every job field offers some sort of certification and many will boost your pay scale and have you earning more in a matter of months. Here’s a look at some of the most popular job certifications and the difference adding an acronym next to your name can have on your monthly take home pay.
Common Job Certifications
It’s difficult to put a hard number on the value of becoming certified in your position because the actual benefits depend on your unique situation, but when deciding whether or not to pursue certification, make sure the increase in pay will more than make up for the money you spend getting there.
Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
A nursing assistant can become certified as a CNA fairly quickly. Doing so not only adds to your earning potential, but is also a step toward becoming a Registered Nurse, Licensed Practical Nurse or higher.
- Requirements – CNA applicants must go through 75-hour, or about 3 month long training program and then pass a competency test.
- Cost to Get Certified – If you don’t take any cost-cutting measures, the expenses related to gaining certification run about $1,000. However, many hospitals will cover part of all of your training if you’re an employee.
- Pay Increase - The expected salary for a typical nursing assistant is $26,498, but a CNA certification bumps the range up to $28,000-$33,000.
Project Management Professional (PMP)
For anyone working as a project manager, becoming a PMP shows you really know your stuff. The great thing about project management and the PMP certification is that you can practice in a number of different fields like construction or IT. Further, obtaining certification as a PMP is pretty difficult and is a highly respected designation.
- Requirements - Only project managers with extensive experience can take the PMP test. You must have a Bachelor’s degree, at least three years of experience and 35 hours of coursework, or a high school diploma and at least five years experience along with the 35 hours of education.
- Cost to Get Certified: – There are a number of prep classes you can elect to take with varying associated costs, though they aren’t required. The exam itself is pretty inexpensive considering the payoff–members of the Project Management Institute pay $405 for the computer-based exam or $250 to take it on paper.
- Pay Increase – Becoming a PMP can increase your salary up to 10 percent over non-credentialed project managers.
Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
Accountants are licensed and certified to practice in their state when they become a CPA. The CPA exam is considered by many to be even harder than the Bar for lawyers, but while it’s tough to pass, becoming a CPA opens a number of doors both professionally and financially. CPAs are allowed to perform a wider range of duties and enjoy the best job prospects.
- Requirements – In order to take the exam, it’s required (in 46 states) that you first complete a total of 150 semester hours, including coursework in accounting and business along with what’s required for your Bachelor’s degree (basically, a 5-year degree). Then you must pass a four-part examination.
- Cost to Get Certified – There’s a hefty educational requirement behind becoming a CPA. If you don’t already have a Bachelor’s, you’ll need one, and we all know how expensive college is. At the very least, you will an additional year or so of college. The actual examination fee varies from state to state, but generally, it’s between $500 and $800.
- Pay Increase – According to PayScale.com, the median salary for an accountant ranges from about $37,000-$51,000. Alternatively, that of a CPA is between $48,000-$70,000. That’s a potential increase of over $10,000 to $20,00 a year. Not bad.
These are just a few examples out of the thousands of professional certifications available. Even if you haven’t been concerned with making more money, it doesn’t hurt to research your options within your industry and find out if there’s a way to get certified in your field. You may discover there’s a program you never knew existed that could take your career (and your income) to the next level.
This guest post was written by Casey Bond from Go Banking Rates, a website that brings you informative personal finance content and helpful tools, as well as the best interest rates on financial services nationwide. Follow them on Twitter at @GoBankingRates.
Published or updated May 17, 2012.