The Basics of Achieving Professional Certification: Enhancing Your Credentials, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Basics of Achieving Professional Certification

Enhancing Your Credentials, 1st Edition

By Willis H. Thomas

Productivity Press

216 pages | 5 B/W Illus.

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Professional certification has become a very popular topic and a significant number of individuals are making it a priority. Some people are torn on whether or not to obtain a certification to bolster their career. Others see the advantage of diversifying their professional portfolio and pursuing popular certifications in the areas of Project Management, Information Technology, Quality, or Human Resources. The Basics of Achieving Professional Certification: Enhancing Your Credentials provides clear-cut guidance on how to select a certification that is right for you and how you can continue to build your credentials in support of personal and professional goals.

This easy-to-use guidecan help anyone looking to achieve professional certification make informed decisions about the many options available. It can also help avoid the pitfalls of making the wrong choice as a result of being incorrectly informed.Examining the range of professional certifications offered by associations and organizations, it explains how to select the right professional certification and outlines best practices for completing the certification process.

The book includes a CD that represents more than a year of development between resources in the U.S. and Europe. Packed with tools, it supplies permanent access to a suite of helpful training and development software, including:

  • Library management system to track training material, books, and related items (created in MS Access)
  • Learning management system to ensure training compliance (created in MS Access)
  • A number of project management resources, including a comprehensive exam preparation program
  • Royalty free multimedia resources to add pizzazz to your e-learning programs
  • Forms, templates, and checklists to support training administration
  • Tools to help evaluate training programs
  • Software to make training and certification more interactive and enjoyable

Winner of a Cleland Publication Award, Willis H. Thomas, PhD, PMP, CPT, not only outlines the requirements for obtaining professional certification, but also provides a framework for training and development that supports the range of professional certifications. The book includes helpful test-taking tips for oral and written exams and also describes how to find supporting resources for study group participation.

Filled with illustrative examples, the text includes testimonials from professional associations on how professional certification has benefited their members—making it helpful to professional associations as a means to encourage association membership and participation.

Table of Contents


Key Lessons

Professional Certification Defined

How Does the Professional Certification Process Work?


The Application Process

Lack of Knowledge about Resources

Certification Maintenance

Ongoing Requirements to Stay Connected

Why Is Professional Certification Needed?

Who Needs Professional Certification?

Where Should a Person Obtain Professional Certification?

Which Path Should Be Taken to Achieve Professional Certification?

When Should Certificate Programs Be Pursued?

What about Qualifications?

Suggested Reading

The Certification Marketplace

Key Lessons

The Certification Jungle

Milestones in Professional Certification

Credentialing Authorities

Centers and Institutes for Association Leadership

Association Management Companies

Business Partners and Consultants

Professional Association versus Professional Organization

Professional Association Governance and Membership

Professional Organization Structure and Community Members

Registered Education Providers

Educational Institutions



Suggested Reading

Preparing for Professional Certification

Key Lessons

Getting Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Mastering the Body of Knowledge

Financing Professional Certification

Accessing the Professional Certification Handbook

Filling Out the Professional Association Membership Application

Interpreting the Professional Certification Application

Previewing the Different Types of Certification Fees and Dues

Clarifying the Type of Professional Certification Assessments

Optimizing Certification Preparation Resources

Determining Test-Taking Strategies

Overcoming Anxiety and Mental Blocks

Completing the Readiness Assessment

Suggested Reading

Achieving Professional Certification

Key Lessons

Ready, Set, Go

Career Planning

Out of High School or with a General Equivalency Diploma

Picking Up One- and Two-Year Programs

Continuing on to the Four-Year Degree

Stretching to Advanced Degrees

Terminal Degrees and Beyond

Practice Analysis

Competency Development

Learning Methodologies

Capacity Building

Day of the Certification Exam

Publicizing the Credential

Updating the Résumé, Curriculum Vitae, Portfolio, and Biography

Applying for New Positions

Suggested Reading

Maintaining Professional Certification

Key Lessons

Sustaining Professional Association and Professional Organization Professional Certification Programs

Budgeting Time, Energy, and Money

Balancing Family, Friends, and Recreational Interests

Earning PDUs and CEUs


Obtaining Lifetime Professional Certification Status

Reviving an Expired Professional Certification

Sunsetting a Professional Certification That Has Been Retired

Handling a Professional Certification That Becomes Problematic

Reinstating a Professional Certification after It Has Been Revoked

Deciding Not to Maintain Professional Certification

Suggested Reading

Good Business Practices for Professional Certification

Key Lessons

Defining Best Practices

Developing the Professional Association Board of Directors

Increasing Member Satisfaction

Improving Communication with Professional Organizations

Motivating Others to Become Professionally Certified

Building a Culture That Supports Professional Certification

Promoting a Learning Organization

Networking for Continuous Improvement

Weighing Certification Options

Determining the Impact of Professional Certification Programs

Monitoring Cash Flow

Measuring Volunteer Engagement Specific to Certification Maintenance

Calculating Return on Investment for Training (an Example Model)

Creating Training Materials for Certification Preparation

Suggested Reading

Maintaining Compliance with Professional Certification

Key Lessons

A Reality Check

Reinforcing a Compliance Mindset

Enabling Feedback Mechanisms to Eliminate Blind Spots

Auditing Professional Certification

Evaluating Professional Certification

Implementing a Tracking System for PDUs/CEUs

Assigning the Job Role to Oversee Professional Certification

Reviewing Implementability Concerns

Sustaining Accreditation with a Recognized Authority

Adhering to Sound Instructional Design and Curriculum Development

Suggested Reading

Case Studies in Professional Certification

Key Lessons

Association for Operations Management

Basics of Supply Chain Management

Master Planning of Resources

Detailed Scheduling and Planning

Execution and Control of Operations

Strategic Management of Resources

American Society for Quality

American Society for Training and Development

American Society of Association Executives

Association of Clinical Research Professionals

Cisco Learning Network

International Institute for Learning

International Society for Performance Improvement


Project Management Institute

Society of Human Resource Management

Suggested Reading

Resource CD





About the Author

Willis H. Thomas, PhD, PMP, CPT is a certified project manager and performance technologist who has been involved in training and organizational development across the pharmaceutical, telecommunications and information technology industries. His career focus has been in the areas of quality assurance, human resources, and operations.

Dr. Thomas is a recognized author. His book entitled "The Basics of Project Evaluation and Lessons Learned" received the Project Management Institute's 2012 Cleland Award. The Cleland award recognizes and honors the best project management literature published during the previous calendar year. It recognizes the author for significant contributions and for advancing the project management knowledge, practices, procedures, concepts, or other advanced techniques that demonstrate the value of using project management. He has also published in professional journals and is represented on training, project management and evaluation professional association websites. He was a featured speaker at the International Project Management Day on November 15, 2012 and has delivered global presentations on project management, training, and evaluation for a number of organizations.

Dr. Thomas has 10 years of pharmaceutical experience. He worked for Pfizer in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the largest manufacturing site for drug products and active pharmaceutical ingredients. After the Wyeth-Pfizer merger, he worked five years in research and development in Pearl River, New York. Dr. Thomas’ work has been instrumental in maintaining regulatory compliance (i.e., with the FDA) and supporting process improvement (i.e., through assessing and developing global training programs). In addition to a deep and broad experience in the pharmaceutical industry, Dr. Thomas was in the telecommunications and information technology industries for 15 years where he supported quality initiatives and regulatory compliance. He worked seven years for Ameritech, a Regional Bell Operating Company (RBOC); three years for Brinks, an international home security provider; and five years for Presentation Partners as a consultant.

In the area of project management training, Dr. Thomas has delivered courses on a virtual basis for the International Institute for Learning. He has also invested time to assist a number of professional associations with learning technologies, project management and evaluation. He has done this through creating e-learning, delivering webinars, in-person speaking engagements and publishing content.

He holds a PhD in Evaluation from Western Michigan University. The title of his dissertation while working at Pfizer was "A Metaevaluation of Lessons Learned Repositories: Evaluative Knowledge Management Practices in Project Management." In line with his extensive research, he has developed a comprehensive website on project management that focuses specifically on lessons learned at Dr. Thomas studied directly under Dr. Michael Scriven. His Master of Science degree in Human Resource Management is from National Louis University. The title of his Master’s thesis was "The Impacts of Sales Integration on Interpersonal Communication Affecting Sales Representatives' Job Satisfaction." This was completed while at Xerox.

Dr. Thomas’ Bachelor of Arts degree is from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While there, he served as the editor for Datelines Student Newspaper and editor for West African Monsoons from Geocentric Satellites (Space Science and Engineering Department).

Personal Interests: Family, travel, visiting national parks, gourmet cooking, and publishing. Professional Interests: Evaluation, Measurement, Research, Certification Programs, Learning Technologies, Pharmaceutical Science, Project Management, Supply Chain Management, Records Management, Information Technology, Information Management, and Knowledge Management Professional Association Board of Directors Served on: ASTD, APICS, PMI, and ISM Current Professional Memberships: AEA, APICS, ASTD, ISPI, and PMI.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Human Resources & Personnel Management
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Quality Control