On nearly every job posting out there, there is a list of “requirements” and a list of “preferred” skills. If you are going into Human Resources or Talent Acquisition, you may notice more and more that professional certifications are slowly moving from the preferred list to the required list.

If you’re looking to get a job in the industry or you’re just starting out and are wondering how to advance, a certification may be the right route for you. Getting certified shows not only a heightened level of skill and know-how but also a commitment to the job itself. Since these certifications are still considered voluntary, making the decision for yourself shows a real dedication to your chosen role.

Deciding whether certification is the right route for you really depends on what it is that you want to do in your career. Are you a fan of being in an administrative role? Certification may not be totally necessary right now, but it might be worth it to keep the thought on the backburner. Do you want to be an HR or TA leader? You should definitely be looking not just at certification, but also consider planning any higher-education around that goal. There is one thing that is for sure regardless of your career goals: certification will help your resume and your name stand out amongst the crowd. As time progresses, industry professionals will continue to make themselves competitive in the market and certification can certainly be a tool to make that happen.

Workers with certification can expect higher pay and more promotions than their uncertified counterparts. Beyond that, certified workers can find the job market to be more open for them than those without since most companies are turning towards wanting those certified on staff.

What certification is right for you and your work goals can vary. Business.com has a great overview of some of the top certifications here. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the different acronyms that job postings are asking for, that article will help you out.

One of the best things to do would be to find a mentor in your local area who is already in HR and/or TA and talk to them about their experience. Since different laws apply in different states, finding a local mentor here is crucial. They’ll have the real “boots on the ground” experience that you need in this industry.

While being certified isn’t required to be a part of the industry, it can be the step that you need to take to be successful in your goals. Something to remember: getting an HR certification is an investment. It’s an investment of your time and money (barring your company covering it) and, while it often pays off in the long run, it can make for a very stressful time filled with lots of studying and tests. Make sure that you’re ready to make the leap when you sign up!

We hope that this year of Level One posts has been helpful for you on your career journey! Here’s a full list of the series for easy access:

All the Acronyms
4 Things to Look out for on a Resume
Resume Myths
Recruiting Red Flags
Reaching Out
What to Do When a Candidate Says No
Sourcing or Recruiting?
Dealing with Difficult Hiring Managers