You've heard it before, one of the best investments you can make is to invest in yourself. When it comes to making yourself all you can be, you shouldn't be stingy with your money. This can be simply relaxation, exercise, papering, reward and the most important investment: EDUCATION.
Free Money Finance has a great quote from Money Magazine that puts some real dollar values to education:
The money you spend on a college degree still yields a sizable return on your investment. Over a working lifetime, the typical college graduate earns about 75% more than a high school grad does. On average, that difference totals $1 million more -- easily enough to re-pay those student loans and then some. The payoff from graduate school is even bigger: People with advanced degrees earn two to three times as much over their lifetimes as those without a college degree and increase their average total earnings by as much as $2 million.
As much as we hate paying off those student loans, they really had a huge impact on our earning potential.
Now, traditional college degrees aren't the only type of education that has a substantial impact on our earning power. Whatever job or profession you are currently in, you should look around on the web and see if there is a professional certification for your profession. This is a great way to add dollars to your pocket at your next raise request or job hunt. Just about any professional job, has some kind of association that manages and gives certifications that say you are someone that is aware of the complete body of knowledge for that profession. This certification means substantial dollars from employers!
Take a look at a very interesting article on www.certmag.com called CertMag's 2006 Salary Survey, you find many interesting bits of info. In particular the following list of top certifications by salary:
Another interesting view of their data is average salary by professional specialization:
Certifications are a great way to let your current employers and your future employers know that you are serious about your profession and deserve a serious salary bump!
Certification: The Benefits and Beyond
Beyond gaining technical skills and advancing one’s career, the reasons individuals have for getting certified can vary, in some cases coming down to their sense of stature or the respect they feel they command in their chosen field. A consistent majority of IT pros polled in the 2006 CertMag Salary Survey agreed certification makes them more confident in the work they do, gets them more respect from management and colleagues, and leads to a greater demand for their skills.
There are more benefits to getting your professional certifications:
“There are a lot of aspects that the certifications cover that I didn’t directly deal with in my job, but I think learning those helped me to be able to pull from a lot of different areas and experiences and contribute to that job better,” he said.
“It’s not necessarily a requirement for our job,” Helferich said. “It was new equipment to us, and it struck a fancy with me. I wanted to make sure I knew the equipment and went after the certification to have bragging rights.”
“It comes back to risk and the fact that a candidate who has a CCIE has proven him or herself from a technical perspective already,” he said.
I'll say it again: Don't Be Stingy! Spend the money to join your professional organization, get study materials for the test, the fees necessary for the test. All of these can sometimes be substantial, but well worth it when you consider the many tens of thousands of added salary you will earn from them over the coming years.
You'll find much about this topic in the survey results article linked above. Here's some info on average cost of certification of survey respondents:
The overall costs of certification, including study material, the exam price and more, also proved to be less expensive. According to the survey, about 44 percent of respondents reported spending less than $500 overall. The average dollars spent dropped from $2,580 last year to $1,781 in 2006, a drop of more than 30 percent.
Instructor led exam preparation was in high demand:
Instructor-led training was ranked extremely or very valuable by 45.4 percent of respondents, and product documentation was ranked extremely or very valuable by 40.3 percent.
And, don't hesitate to ask your employer if they will pay the exam, preparation, training costs for the certification. You may be pleasantly surprised!
In most cases, either the respondent or the respondent’s employer paid 100 percent of the cost of certification — there was little sharing of cost or reliance on grants or scholarships.