A comprehensive guide to micro-credentials
Get a competitive advantage over your peers with micro-credential qualifications
Today’s world is very competitive, and it is only wise to always remain at the top of the competition if you want to succeed in the rat race generation, we are all a part of. One of the easiest ways to ensure you are a step ahead of your peers is to stay up to date in your field of study or industry. And how do you do that – by keeping that skill set nurtured!
What are micro-credentials
In the simplest terms, micro-credentials are bite-sized qualifications that focus on a specific skill. Designed in a certification-format, these low-cost, short-term online courses aim at upskilling you in a comprehensive, informal manner without putting you under any time commitment that comes with a full-fledged diploma or a degree course. While these are independent chunks of knowledge and shouldn’t be mistaken for a replacement of a diploma/degree, but these do help you further your skills or knowledge in a specific field.
Micro-credentials are also known as nano degrees, digital badges, mini degrees, micro-credentials, open badges, and web badges.
With courses offered in both soft and hard skills, these mini-qualifications are for anyone who would like to upskill – be it a student or a professional. While your soft skills may include courses in time management, presentation skills, increasing work productivity, critical thinking, e-mail etiquette, team management, leadership skills, etc., popular examples of courses in hard skills include coding, digital marketing, front-end web development, social media and many more. So, while for a student these skills help garner a stronger portfolio before you dive into a job market, for professionals it’s a clear competitive advantage.
How does it work?
When you complete a micro-credential qualification, you are awarded a digital badge, which can be shared on your resume, social media profiles, and even professional networking websites such as LinkedIn (this helps your faculty or recruiters notice you’ve completed a course in that specific skill). Do note that while these courses are flexible, they do require you to complete certain hours or modules to earn your badge. Depending on the kind of course you’ve opted for, there could be lectures, webinars, or written course material provided. Some courses may also require you to submit assignments to assess how well you’re adopting.
Benefits of micro-credentials
Given the fact that micro-credentials are a great top-up to your field of study, there are many benefits than you can think of. So, here you go – I’ve highlighted the top 10 benefits for you:
In fact, if you take up a series of micro-credentials along a defined learning pathway, you may even earn a certification in that skill.
Eligibility required to enroll
The requirements for micro-credentials vary from course to course. Mostly, there are no official requirements but some extremely specialised courses may require you have certain fundamental knowledge when it comes to hard skills. However, for learning soft skills, there are no such prior conditions.
What to consider when picking a micro-credential?
Since a micro-credential is a mini degree, it is best to understand what’s your purpose behind earning it. Are you opting for one to enhance an already existing skillset or acquire a completely new one? If it is a course that covers a hard skill, then always look at the market value of the same. Understand how it is going to fill your skill gap or complement your existing knowledge. Does it fulfil your knowledge needs? And most importantly, does it support your goals?
If you are looking for a course that covers soft skills, you need to know how relevant it is to you. For instance, if you already ace your timelines and know how to designate your tasks in a diligent manner, then a course on time management might not the most perfect choice, but a course that enhances your productivity can add those extra stars to your career. I’ll give another example. If you are someone who’s socially shy, but you need to deliver presentations and speeches as part of your chosen field, then a micro-credential in presentation skills or public speaking could just be the right one.
There are hundreds of courses available online that cover a vast area of industries and skillsets, so start with the one that you really need and take on from there, one after the other. As a student, find something that fits into your educational degree and helps you level up; and at work helps you face those workforce challenges with ease. If you are waiting for your offer letter or visa or starting online studies, micro-credentials can add an extra weight to your resume.
Some websites that you can look at for pursuing micro-credentials include Udemy, FutureLearn, Classcentral, Digitalpromise, training.com, etc. You can also explore the various short-term online programs available with many international universities like the Monash University, the Oxford University, Deakin University and more.
In the end…
Remember, learning never stops and no matter what stage of career you are in, it is best to keep your skills updated in your field of study or profession. Constant upskilling can not only help you grow but also explore new facets of your chosen field of study/profession.
Updated on December 10, 2020
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With more than 10 years of experience in Content, Sanjhi Agarwal is the Regional Content Manager (South Asia) at IDP Education. She has been associated with IDP since 2018 and is based out of Gurgaon.
Her team is responsible for curating relevant and insightful content for international education aspirants, via various channels including website, blogs, expert articles and other web properties. She is an ex-All India Radio presenter (General Overseas Services) and a former journalist (The Hindustan Times).