Which is better – a change management diploma or a certificate?
Real-world experience or education?
After all, most job descriptions want to see a track record of success.
But how do you get that track record without an education?
Anyone interested in change management as a career should consider these topics carefully.
Below, we’ll explore these questions – and a few good answers – in depth.
Should you get a change management diploma or degree?
A change management diploma is a perfect choice if you specifically want to study change management.
It is a perfect choice for someone who has decided to make this their career.
Degrees in change management can go under different names, such as:
- Organizational Development – Organizational development is a field closely related to change management and HR. It applies certain concepts, such as organizational climate and culture, to the ongoing improvement of an organization.
- Change Management – Change management is the business discipline devoted to structured, intentional, managed change projects. The body of knowledge dedicated to change management differ from those in organizational development, though the goals may overlap.
- Organizational Change – In the context of business, the term refers to an actual change project made by an organization. However, organizational change as a field is related to organizational behavior, which studies the behavior of individuals within organizations.
Any of these fields of study can be appropriate for someone interested in a career in change management.
Are degrees more valuable than certificates?
As you can probably guess, in many cases a degree is viewed more favorably than a certificate.
However, this isn’t always true … and getting a degree isn’t always practical.
If you are already working, then a certificate is much easier to get. They are cheaper, faster, and easier to obtain.
And, depending on the context, change management certifications can be just as valuable.
Ultimately, every job is looking for a certain combination of education and experience.
Certainly, degrees are useful.
But someone with more real-life experience may be seen as more valuable to an organization.
Should you study change management in school … or a different field?
If your aim is to become a change manager – and you know this with absolute certainty – then change management is the best choice.
However, change management job positions are open to other applicable fields, such as:
- Human Resources
These areas are, like change management itself, human-centric disciplines.
Because they focus on how humans interact, communicate, and behave, they can all be useful for change managers.
For those who are less certain about their specific career direction, subjects such as these should also be considered.
How much do employers value experience?
Experience is arguably more valuable than education.
It can come in a few forms, depending on the job being applied for.
A senior change management role would require not only experience, but a track record of success.
Before applying, you should have at least a couple successful change projects under your belt.
However, many employers require both education and experience when hiring for change management roles.
Your goal should be to build a combination of both throughout your career.
How do you get experience or workplace education?
There are a few ways to gain experience in the field of change management.
Here are a few tips:
- Aim for any manager positions, including project management roles. Start accepting responsibility in whatever form you can, even as small projects. Over time, you will be able to increase this responsibility until you are handling organization-wide change projects.
- Try to work your way into departments such as human resources, organizational development, and change management. The most obvious way to get into change management is by focusing your efforts on these departments. A foot in the door can help you gain experience, meet the right people, and get your hands on the right projects.
- Look for jobs at companies that understand the value of change. Companies that scale quickly can help you scale your responsibilities quickly. Those that know the advantage of organizational change will also give you access to the right resources and opportunities.
- Find companies with robust training and education functions. Many enterprises offer in-house training – but not all. Find those that do and you can grow your skills as you grow your experience.
Company culture can make a big difference in your ability to grow.
Organizations that offer employee training, education, and growth opportunities will help you more than those that don’t.
How else can you improve your change management career prospects?
Here are some other tips for growing your career in change management:
- Join change management associations, like the ACMP. ACMP is a professional network of change management professionals that can give you access to job opportunities, learning opportunities, and networking opportunities.
- Take courses and workshops in change management. Every certification, workshop, and accomplishment can help you grow your knowledge and your resume.
- Learn modern techniques in change management. Data-driven business change strategies and agile change management, for instance, can help you offer more value to an organization.
- Build your network online and offline. In business and in change management, it’s not what you know, but who you know.
- Keep improving your skills, knowledge, and abilities. Never stop learning and growing – continual improvement will help you stay competitive, knowledgeable, and valuable to companies.
For more information about change management, be sure to check out the other articles on our change management blog.
Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.