Your MBA degree did what it was rightfully meant to do – it gave you new perspectives about careers you’d never have thought about, your electives gave you insights into each of these new areas.
But a general management degree may not be able to do justice as it may fail to delve deeper into a specific area.
So, even with an MBA, you may end up with the feeling that you lack the required expertise and knowledge needed to pursue a career in this newfound area of interest. What do you do in that situation?
“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps”.
If you believe in that quote, you may be thinking, “Now that I’ve completed my MBA, what are my action steps to get closer to my goals?”
In this post, we’ve covered a few courses that can be completed without interfering with your professional life. These certifications can improve your career trajectory and also boost your earning potential without taking a break from work.
The CFA program is a good option for those interested in a career in the Finance area. It has three levels (Level I, Level II and Level III). You’d need a lot of dedication as several hours of self-study would be needed to clear these tough levels. You can continue with your work-life while studying. The CFA website reports candidates dedicating over 300 hours of preparation for each of these levels. To complete all the levels, an average of four years is required. A CFA certification would surely give your finance career a boost if you’re able to complete it.
CFA in India could earlier be awarded by ICFAI University or by the CFA Institute, USA. However, there was a dispute between the two over awarding CFA degree in India. Finally, a settlement was arrived at, in 2012, according to which ICFAI would stop issuing any further CFA certification except for those already registered with them. Those who’ve obtained their CFA through ICFAI would be required to use CFA (ICFAI).
So, in this post, we’d limit our discussions to the international CFA degree offered by the CFA Institute, USA.
To be eligible for the first exam, you’ve to either have a bachelor’s degree or you may also attempt it while you’re in the final year of your graduation. However, for moving on to level two, you should have completed your graduation and updated your education information.
The CFA fees include a one-time enrolment fee of $450 and $860 exam registration fee for each of the levels. The CFA level I is held twice a year in June and December, level II and level III are held once a year in June.
The career scope includes the various finance-related jobs in corporate finance, investment banking, portfolio management, equity research. This internationally-acclaimed degree can open doors of opportunities in finance and bring you a lot of credibility in the job market. The success rate is not too high (usually varying between 40%-45% for the first two levels and slightly over 50% for level 3) and the those who manage to get through have put in a whole lot of time and effort studying for it.
As the name suggests, this exam is for those professionals interested in a career in risk management. There are two levels involved: part I and part II. This is an internationally recognised certification exam offered by the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP). It is a multiple-choice exam held twice a year in November and May. The preparation time would depend a lot on your background-mainly your academic qualification and experience. The GARP website reports an average of 240 hours of preparation for part I exam.
The exam fee includes a one-time enrolment fee of $300 and an exam fee of $350 for early registration and $475 for standard registration for each of the exams.
Candidates who clear the Part I exam need to pass the FRM Part II within four years. They also need to have two years of relevant work experience. There is no educational/professional prerequisite while registering for the exam. However, you need to submit your resume with the required work experience within a period of five years after passing FRM Part II.
Unlike the CFA that offers a wide array of careers in Finance, the FRM provides expertise in a specialised area (financial risk management). These professionals are expected to have expertise in the area of taking calculated risk as required in the finance sector mainly in investment banks, corporations or asset management firms.
The CISA certification is an internationally recognised one awarded by Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA). The IT infrastructure for bigger organisations is a rapidly-growing area with almost every industry dependent on it. There is a growing demand for professionals who are expected to monitor the information technology and the business systems and processes of any organisation. This certification helps provides you the required skill and knowledge in this area.
After clearing the CISA exam, you need to fulfil the work experience eligibility inorder to qualify for the certification. This includes five years IT audit experience or you may avail waivers on the basis of some alternate work experience. You have a five years time after the passing date to meet this work experience criteria.
The CISA certification exam is held thrice a year-as of now in June, September and December. It’s a four hour exam with 200 multiple choice questions.
The scope of work of an IT auditor includes a variety of tasks including performing thorough audits of the company’s information technology, managing information security, keeping systems updated and also keeping a tab on whether the IT operations are in compliance with the various regulatory standards.
This course is meant for internal auditors and risk management professionals. This certification is offered by the institute of internal auditors (IIA). This exam requires self- study by means of reference to various resources and does not have a fixed curriculum.
To be eligible for the exam, you must either be a graduate OR have two years post-secondary education with five years of internal audit experience OR seven years of internal audit experience. A duly signed character reference form also needs to be submitted.
The exams are held throughout the year at several locations globally at the various IIA-authorized Pearson VUE testing centers. The CRMA exams comprises of two sections – part I has 125 questions witha duration of 2.5 hours. There’s also the core exam with 100 multiple-choice questions with a completion time of two hours. Cost of the CRMA core exam is $350 for members and $450 for non-members. There’s also an application fee which varies as per your geography or institute.
As per the IIA website, if your career objective is to become a trusted advisor to the audit committee and handle management in the critical areas of risk assurance, governance processes, quality assurance, or control self-assessment, the CRMA designation is for you.
The APICS CPIM (Certified in Production and Inventory Management) is also a globally recognised certification. The exam preparation can be done at your convenience as the coursework is available online.
There are five APICS CPIM exams covering five modules which need to be completed within ten years of taking the first exam. You get three hours to complete each module. The fees for APICS members is $325 per exam and for non-members, it is $410 per exam.
This certification is for those keen to continue a career in supply chain. It provides a thorough understanding and knowledge of the production planning and inventory management of a company in the global operations.
Certified in Production and Inventory Management6. Project Management Professional (PMP)
Project Management Institute (PMI) is a non-profit organisation in the area of project management. It offers various certifications, one of which is the PMP.
To be eligible, you need to have 4500 hours leading and directing projects in addition to your four year bachelor’s degree and 35 hours of project management education. Instead of a four year degree, if you have a high school diploma or equivalent, you’ll need to have additional hours leading and directing projects (7500 hours).
This is a four hour exam with 200 multiple choice questions. The cost involved would be US$405 for members and US$555 for non-members.
The PMP certification is a globally recognised one and it puts you ahead in the race to be recruited for the position of a project manager. It gives employers a reason to believe that you are competent enough for the job and shows your commitment in the project management field since you’ve put in so much time, money and effort to get this not-so-easy certification. You can expect a higher salary compared to others in this field.
Most of these courses require considerable investment of time and finances, so you need to have clarity if the course you choose is aligned with your long-term career goals. You also need to be able to put in a concentrated effort over a period of time to fulfil the various requirements as the course demands.