When seeking career advice, “get a credential” is among the most common refrains that people hear. And it’s true: All evidence indicates that a degree or professional certificate is the way forward for career and financial stability. The game is changing, though, with digital badges gaining importance in the credentialing world.
What are digital badges?
If you’re familiar with video games, you’re probably familiar with digital badges—they’re visual tokens that represent your accomplishments. Gaming badges are mostly for bragging rights among friends; digital badges used in education signify accomplishments such as completion of a course or curriculum, or mastery of a skill, or marks of work experience.
While they aren’t the same as earning a degree or certificate, digital badges can be viewed as good indicators of progress, and can be used as evidence of possessing a certain skill.
A word of caution: Not all digital badges are created equal. Do your homework before registering for a course to ensure that your badges are credible and widely acceptable.
How can they help my career?
Badges can prove valuable at any stage in your career. Digital badges support lifelong learning by allowing the badge owner to demonstrate additional skills and competencies developed. These badges allow you to demonstrate proficiency in skills that you’ve learned anywhere.
Digital badging allows job seekers and students to respond to the fast-changing world and create their own learning pathways. It connects learners to opportunities, resources and other learners. When you’re starting out or changing careers and need to prove that you have a certain set of skills—typing at a certain speed or using a computer program, for instance—earning a badge can be a quick way to demonstrate your competency in that specific skill set.
In some instances, badges are faster and more cost-effective than entering a degree or certification program; and, if you’re already enrolled in a program, receiving badges after completing courses can show your progress and skills acquisition.
And, to advance in your career, you may find that you need to continue to develop skills and competencies; badges are a way to demonstrate your continued learning as technology and industry practices continue to evolve.
How do I get them?
Until recently, almost all digital badges were awarded by learning websites like Codeacademy.com or testing sites like OpenBadges.org, but online certification bodies like Certiport and Pearson now use badges to demonstrate competencies, skills and learning. Higher education, such as community colleges and universities, are using skill-based badges as a record of achievement that then becomes a foundation for job seekers to share accomplishments with employers.
If you’re interested in earning badges for workplace skills, GCFLearnFree.org is a good place to start!