I think the days of getting a college degree for the sake of that degree are behind us. Of course, there’s nothing at all wrong with that ambition, and many careers still require that level of education.

But in the business world, specifically the online business world, it’s not always about the degree. It’s about what you know, what you can do and even where that knowledge came from.

Many virtual assistants and online business managers learn their skills by working hands-on in the weeds–either in an administrative role away from the online world or in their own (and others’) online businesses.

I’ve talked before about how to uplevel as a virtual assistant in an effort to serve clients in a larger role. Even if you feel like you’re ready to take the leap and become a director of operations in someone’s business, it’s important to have the qualifications to back that up. And that might mean a certification.

Why uplevel with a certification?

It used to be that high achievers reached for master’s degrees and doctorates. In today’s online space, certification programs take the place of pricey degrees–and for good reason. A certification program is focused on the exact skills you need, rather than that statistics class or humanities that you really have no interest in.

And a certification program can develop you both personally and professionally into the business owner and integrator you want to be.

What is the difference between between a course and a certification program?

There are a lot of courses and programs, both self-led and instructor-led, in the online space. They teach skills and walk students through processes that bring about a specific result or help them build or create something. But the downfall that courses and programs have is there’s no real accountability to learn and implement this new knowledge.

Anyone can buy a course or join a program. But that doesn’t mean that they mastered the material, or even completed it.

A certification is different. A certification program is a high-touch experience where you legitimately have to work through the coursework hand-in-hand with a qualified expert. There’s criteria around completing the coursework at a certain level. You’re part of a community or cohort of learners who all have ambitious goals and the motivation to learn and grow into the curriculum.

Only a select few qualified individuals can be part of a certification program because they’re usually hand-vetted by the person who developed the curriculum. The leader of the program wants to bring qualified people into the program so graduates are ready to tackle the work. This builds trust in the leader and value in the program itself so graduates are sought-after professionals.

If that’s not reason enough to seek out a certification program for your industry, know that completing one will help you develop personally and professionally. Here’s how, specifically for virtual assistants looking to grow into a bigger role with their clients:

How a certification develops you professionally

  • It positions you in a way that attracts higher level clients–exactly the clients who need the services of a director of operations.
  • It allows you to niche down in your business so you can serve a specific type of client or industry in a better, more efficient way.
  • It introduces you to a network of professionals who can support you in your vision or who may become your clients.
  • It helps you to achieve high-level goals as you learn new skills you can add to your business.

How a certification develops you personally

  • It can help to grow your self-worth because of the additional knowledge and skills you’ll possess.
  • It allows you to master something. For business, yes, but mastery in any area gives you the motivation to work toward mastery in other areas.
  • It gives you a community you can use outside the program, a community of support, guidance and friendship that will extend beyond the walls of a course.

There aren’t many certification programs out there, but I really think this is the future of online business growth. My own Director of Operations certification program is launching soon, designed for those looking to serve as the integrators of others’ businesses. Find out more here!

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