Last Updated: March 6, 2019, 3:46 pm

Certificates give students edge in professional fields


Photo courtesy of Trey Davis.

Earning a certificate is one way for students to give themselves an advantage when applying for jobs.

“Having [a] certificate on your transcript or resume shows you have one more skill that your competition doesn’t, thus giving you an edge in the job market,” sociology professor Matthew Smith-Lahrman said. “[It] also looks good for students wanting to go to graduate school.”

For students majoring or minoring in the field associated with their certificate, all courses involved are either degree requirements or electives. For instance, 12 of the credits required for the certificate in social research methods are requirements for sociology majors, and the other six are elective credits. The same goes for other certificates.

“The maker certificate classes stack 100 percent [into the degrees in the engineering program],” said David Christensen, assistant professor of mechanical engineering. “In particular, this certificate bolsters the prototyping capabilities of entrepreneurs who are seeking to start a business or obtain a patent. Anyone interested in Innovation Plaza would benefit greatly from the maker certificate.”

Certificates can even be useful to students not majoring or minoring in the field directly associated with each certificate, Smith-Lahrman said.

“The ability to construct, implement, analyze and present social scientific data is useful in all disciplines and areas of employment because organizations need to know about their work forces and their customers,” Smith-Lahrman said of the certificate in social research methods. “So the skills imparted by this major are very useful to students in all majors and minors.”

Ian Holdeman, a junior computer and information technology major from St. George, said certifications and proving what you know are more important than a degree in the tech industry.

“The CompTIA A+ certification is the No. 1 certification that employers are looking for,” Holdeman said. “I’m pretty sure having my A+ at such a young age is part of the reason I was hired at my current job. I’m also working toward a Security+ certification, which I believe is the No. 2 certification employers look for.”

Certificates may be designed for their associated majors, but any student can use a certificate to his or her advantage. Smith-Lahrman and Christensen said they encourage non-majors to achieve certificates that might be beneficial to them. In the end, it’s the student’s decision whether or not a certificate is beneficial.

“This is a choice students must make for themselves,” Smith-Lahrman said.

For more information about the certificates DSU offers, students can visit