Answers to All Your Office Manager Certification Questions
What exactly will an Office Manager (OM) certification do for you?
Anyone considering an Office Manager career can leverage a certification to land a job and build necessary skills while current Office Managers can get a certification to gain new skills and take the next big steps in their careers.
If you’re thinking about committing to earning a certification, then you probably have some questions you’d like to answer before you take the plunge.
Below, we’ll answer some questions we’re guessing you have about how and why to earn your Office Manager certification.
Question: What is an Office Manager Certification?
Answer: Many different organizations offer programs that “certify” someone is a qualified Office Manager or Administrative Professional. In other words, these programs publicly affirm that a person has mastered the core competencies necessary to excel as an Office Manager. Program providers will usually supply participants who’ve proven their competence with a symbol of validated expertise. This symbol often comes in the form of a traditional certificate, diploma, or some sort of continuing education credit.
Certifications typically speak louder than workshop or course participation. Consider this: Anyone can take a workshop and never actually pay attention to, or absorb any, of the course material. The workshop experience will look good, but what does it really mean? An Office Manager certification usually involves some sort of testable or measurable component; participants have to prove they’ve absorbed something from their training before they earn their certification. That’s one of the features that makes certifications valuable. Employees may look at certifications similarly to how they look at references: as empirical evidence that a candidate has the skills required to manage an office with aplomb.
Question: What is the benefit of earning an Office Manager Certification?
Answer: An Office Manager certification program offers a fast-track for building the skills necessary to be successful in your position. While it’s certainly possible to pick up skills and learn on the job as an Office Manager, certifications remove some of the stress from that process by preparing you upstream for some of the challenges you’ll inevitably face. Certifications might compress the typically learning curve you might face when starting a job.
Here are some other key benefits of earning an Office Manager certification:
- It may boost your resume
- It indicates you know exactly what you’re doing
- It helps you build OM skills relevant to any industry
- It helps you build OM skills specific to your target industry
- It may give you an advantage over job competitors with similar backgrounds
- It could help you get started if you have no prior experience
- It may help you earn more money
- It reaffirms your relevancy and desire to improve. According to the professional interviewed for this All Hands post, many bosses believe certifications indicate a commitment to keeping skills current and relevant, as most certifications require periodic recertifications and continued learning.
Question: Is an Office Manager Certification more beneficial in certain fields or industries?
Answer: Office Manager certification offer benefits in all fields and industries, but they can be especially helpful in industries where an Office Manager’s duties might involve touching specialized knowledge and processes. Examples of such specialized fields include (but are not limited to):
- Information technology (IT)
Question: How do I get an Office Manager Certification?
Answer: To earn your Office Manager certification, simply find a certificate program that interests you and follow the requirements. Some programs involve coursework while others offer a certification test and allow students to study and prepare independently. There are a variety of options to you suit any career goals, skill levels, and schedules. We’ve pulled out some options below to help you get started!
Price: $99.95 (Cost includes training materials and the certification test.)
Time commitment: 1 week to 1 month (estimate). The online training materials include modules focused on a variety of core competencies, including financial management, information technology, human resource management, and more. Participants work at their own pace, so the total time commitment will vary from person to person. You can compress or extend this course to fit your schedule.
Here’s one anonymous customer quote from the program’s sales brochure:
“These certifications have been a big boost to my resumé. MSI has really helped my career!”
Here’s a general review about MSI:
“Excellent information. I learned so much that will help me as I seek a new position. These certifications look great on my resume and set me apart from the competition for sure. Highly recommended if you want to learn information that will help you secure a better professional position.”
Time commitment: The exam has a 2-hour limit. You will need to choose your own way to prepare for the exam that fits with your schedule. The price does include a practice exam you can use as the basis for your preparation.
Format: In-person exam with pre-selected exam dates and locations as well as application deadlines. (Yes, you have to apply to take this test!)
Price: $560 for non-members and $375 for IAAP members
Note: Certificate holders must recertify their qualifications every three years.
Time commitment: Several months. Earning IAAP’s CAP requires in-depth preparation to apply and also to take the final exam*.
One professional explains why she plans to sit for the CAP exam on an IAAP forum:
“Because I want to be the best at what I do. Because I want to be recognized as being above average. Because my employer will give me a raise if I pass. Because it will make me look more employable if I decide to change jobs.”
*Preparing for the IAAP CAP is a process in itself. The IAAP offers a variety of resources for exam preparation and many third-party organizations offer trainings to help get students ready to ace the CAP exam.
IAAP CAP preparation resources:
- IAAP CAP Body of Knowledge Book
- CAP study groups
- IAAP CAP study guide
- Exam prep smartbook
- Practice CAP exam
Third-party CAP preparation resources:
- Ed2Go Certified Administrative Professional Preparation Course
- Leoron Certified Administrative Professional Preparation Course
Price: $375 to enroll in the PACE certification program and also take the exam. (The cost includes access to self-paced online study materials and three chances to take the exam.)
Note: Certificate holders must recertify every two years.
Time commitment: Several months to prepare. The actual exam takes only about 90 minutes.
Here are some glowing reviews from the PACE testimonials page:
“As I learned more about PACE Certification, I knew that it was the tool I needed to achieve my goals. As soon as I completed the test online and saw that I had passed, I felt so accomplished and elated that I couldn’t wait to share the news with my boss! Getting PACE certified helped me to earn a promotion and a bonus.” – Vanessa, Administrative Assistant
“I earned my PACE to gain an advantage in the workplace. I found that the study modules helped keep me centered in my position and bring self-awareness to my own performance.” – Tina, Administrative Assistant
Price: $979 when you pay up front and in full. (This option also takes out an application fee.)
Time commitment: Several months
Here’s one happy U.S. Career Institute student writing a glowing review of her program:
“Definitely worth it. Honestly, I’ve been telling everyone here at home, at work and in FB that I am sooooo inspired! If only I could just spend all day studying just so I could finish ASAP, I told my husband today. (But of course I need to go to work as I need to put food on the table,) Can’t wait to complete the entire course. Plus, I intend to take more courses after this one!”
Format: The course includes both online and in-person options
Time commitment: A few days, depending on your schedule. The course takes about 900 minutes to complete. If you dedicated 4 hours a day to the course, then you could finish in about 4 days.
Here are some testimonials from the CMOM course page:
“The CMOM certification provides opportunities for managers to gain the same level of understanding and knowledge necessary to perform their jobs and continuously expand knowledge and skills. This was a great opportunity to learn important information necessary to successfully lead their teams; especially from a compliance standpoint, it helped make sure that activities in the office are in compliance with local and federal laws, and to ensure patient safety. CMOM provides up-to-date information necessary to lead the medical office safely and successfully.”
“I’ve been a medical office manager for 15+ years and I learned new information every hour of this 4-day course. Very practical, informative. Essential for every medical office manager!”
“I get to watch these people develop and grow in confidence and knowledge. You can just see the light bulb moment. No one has ever come out of a CMOM course saying, ‘I didn’t get my money’s worth.’ They’re astonished at all they learned in the course.”
Are you thinking about getting an Office Manager certification? Let us know if you have any other burning questions about the process!