Why More People Are Getting Certifications and How Digital Assessment Can Help


During uncertain times, organizations must rethink how they reskill and upskill their workforces, and professionals must determine how to cost-effectively adapt to fast-changing business conditions. Both employers and employees have come to the realization that certifications and licenses are a great pathway to competitiveness in the job market and expertise at work. To meet these needs, certification and licensure programs across industries have been working to deliver learning and development (L&D) opportunities, specializations, and corresponding certifications and licenses. And these certification and licenses require secure exams.

Certification and licensing bodies are offering an increasing number of specialized credentials, along with micro-credentials and micro-certifications — all of which require high-stakes assessments to show candidates have the skills and knowledge to succeed in their chosen career. 

Why Are Professional and Technical Certifications Trending?

Since the start of the pandemic, we have seen a confluence of forces driving the certification trend. COVID-19 brought about sudden shifts in the way many industries and businesses operate, forcing changes in business models and operational processes, down to individual job responsibilities. The pandemic itself has boosted demand for specific specializations, such as IT governance and risk management, as well as specific skills that enable remote work. Here are some of the other compounding forces:

    1. Attending traditional on-campus programs is not feasible for many professionals.
    2. Many university post-graduate students have dropped out of on-campus programs because they could not get the full on-campus experience.
    3. Technologies including cloud computing, 5G, and immersive platforms like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have made virtual training and certification programs more compelling.
    4. Heavier workloads on employees have necessitated a flexible form of learning — available to workers where they are and when they have the time.
    5. With more volatility in the job market, professionals are looking for more cost- and time-effective ways to make themselves more marketable.
    6. Higher salaries and greater demand for certifications and licenses have further spurred interest from professionals.

For several years before the pandemic hit, these technological and economic trends had already begun. COVID-19 became the impetus for any holdouts to recognize that career competitiveness in the 21st century now depends on a commitment to ongoing professional development, including earning certifications licenses.

Because more people are seeking licensure and certification, it is critical that the corresponding exams are secure, reliable, and fair.

Consider This Sampling of Statistics

Across industries, the numbers for enrollments in L&D programs and candidates for certification are up. Here are a few statistics and examples:

  • Fifty-six percent of certifying bodies surveyed say demand for their credentials has risen.
  • Seventy percent of certifying bodies are planning to launch new certifications in the next year.
  • Forty-four percent of Americans considering upskilling in the next six months (2020) prefer non-degree programs over college programs.
  • New skills and certifications can result in a pay increase of as much as $12,000 a year.
  • Top-paying certifications include Google Certified Professional Data Engineer, Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect, AWS Certified Solutions Architect-Associate, CRISC Risk and Information Systems Control, and CISSP Information Systems Security Professional. Salaries range from $151,853 to $171,749 for these roles.

How Can a Digital Assessment Platform Help Certification Programs?

Certification- and license-issuing bodies have several needs that cannot usually be met in a cost-effective or timely manner without digital assessment expertise and support. These organizations have a host of needs, including:

  • The ability to administer exams to candidates at any location at any time
  • Security to protect organizations’ and exam-takers’ data and privacy
  • Cost reduction by eliminating testing venues, hired proctors, and travel fees
  • Customizable grading/scoring options with robust data-driven feedback
  • Various question formats
  • Candidate ID verification and proctoring

ExamSoft provides certification- and license-granting bodies control over the digital assessment process, with more comprehensive support than basic online assessment platforms. With ExamSoft, credentialing bodies can have their exams delivered at their convenience, with cybersecurity and proctoring measures built in. Clear and actionable data insights make it easy to see if candidates know what they need to know.

To develop a proprietary system with these features would require inordinate investments in L&D consultants and IT experts, significant lead times, and testing of systems before a go-live date. ExamSoft eliminates these needs, offering economies of scale with a proven solution that is ready to meet the needs of employers, professionals, and certification-granting organizations.


American National Standards Institute: Demand for Certifications Increasing During Pandemic

Strada Education Network: Half of Americans Don’t Believe a Good Job Is Within Their Reach

Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA): How the Pandemic Has Boosted Some Tech Skills and Certifications

TechRepublic: 15 Highest-Paying Certifications for 2021

EEI Manufacturing Services: 5 Trends in Technical Certification for 2021

Thomson Reuters: Pandemic May be Leading to More People to Get Professional Certifications

Published: April 19, 2022

Updated: July 17, 2023

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