Within many industries there are different certifications, licenses or other qualifications that give you the right to practice or work within that profession. For most, if not all, of those qualifications there are exams that you must take. The exams are very difficult because they cover all materials within that specific discipline. In order to pass the exams, most people are required to study long hours to gain a full understanding of the material. Some of the disciplines that have these types of exams are engineering (Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam and Professional Engineering (PE) Exam), accounting (Certified Public Account (CPA) Exam), and finance (Certified Financial Adviser (CFA) Exam). There are, however, many areas within these disciplines that people can work without passing the exam and getting the certification.
My educational background is in mechanical engineering. Within engineering there are many positions that you can hold without becoming a PE. The exams are so difficult that many engineers get into corporate America and don’t take the exams. They can find a rewarding career without taking and passing the PE exam, but they may not meet their maximum personal potential.
Great leaders constantly strive for greatness. They don’t settle for less than their very best. In the past, leaders have been able to get by without advancing their qualifications. Within the current economic climate, however, the level of competition for each position is much higher than it has ever been before. In order to stay above the competition, leaders are advancing their education and professional qualifications more than ever before. I strongly encourage any leader that wants to advance your career to do all you can to become educated and gain your professional qualifications. If you studied accounting, prepare for and take the CPA exam. If you studied engineering, prepare for and take the PE exam. Whatever your area of study is, you should do what you can to study for and take the professional exam to become certified or licensed.
As I mentioned, when I was in college as an undergraduate student I studied mechanical engineering. This discipline gave me a lot of experience solving complex problems which allowed me to enter corporate America with relative ease. I held a position as an engineer, that did not require a PE license. I studied and prepared for the fundamentals of engineering (FE) exam and then took it so that I could get a leg up on the competition. My study regime took place over the course of three months because I wanted to do everything that I could to prepare for the exam. When I finally took the exam in October of 2008, I felt well prepared and ended up passing the exam.
After the exam, I took a detour and earned my masters degree in business administration (MBA). I recently decided to go back and take the PE exam. I have not taken it yet, but am doing an intense study regime just as I did with the FE so that I can be prepared when I take it. My goal is to pass it the first time I take it. Even if I don’t pass it the first time around, I will do all I can to become a PE because I know it will open up additional doors for me in my career. As I grow within my career as a leader, my job description may not be one that requires a professional engineering license specifically, but having taken and passed the exam will give me experience that will be invaluable. In addition, it will show my potential employers and/or employees that I can be dedicated to something and accomplish my goals.
No matter what profession you are in, do all you can to advance your professional qualifications. You will find that it will be a precious asset to you in your future. In addition to the lessons you will learn as you prepare for the exams and/or course work, you will find that you are much more prepared for the challenges that will come your way in the future.
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What are you doing to advance your professional qualifications? For those of you that have advanced your qualifications, what benefits have you seen come into your leadership abilities? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!