An Analysis of Generational Differences in the Selection and Pursuit of Professional Certification
Author ORCID Identifier
Date of Award
Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
Dr. Danny Bellenger (Chair)
Dr. Wesley Johnston
Dr. Todd Maurer
Over a number of decades, professional certification bodies have experienced a steady interest in their certification offerings. However, recently, multiple professional certification bodies have been undergoing a decline in exam applications in the US market. This dip in application volume also impacts industry vendors and consulting firms supporting the professional certification industry. Millennials (Generation Y) are now entering and developing in the job market. This research evaluates available literature from a socialization theory lens to examine the motivations of Generation Y and understand their attitudes toward professional certification compared to baby boomers and Gen X. We use a quantitative method focused on human resource certification to explore the argument that baby boomers and Generation X have different attitudes toward professional certification to advance their careers than millennials. Results varied; whereas if certified, millennials agreed that professional certification enhanced their marketability and if not certified, millennials continued to evaluate the investment. Financial and time constraints are keeping millennials from earning those certifications. While some are still contemplating the value and making final plans for their career journeys, the majority of those who are certified earned their certification within the first five years. The research also concluded that individuals with advanced college degrees seek human resource certification.
Contributions to theory and practice are discussed. Although each generation is influenced by its unique shared experiences that impact the generation’s views and attitudes, all generations seek career growth, marketability, and recognition as they age and have more personal and professional responsibilities, regardless of their generation. From a practice standpoint, employers should invest in millennials through learning, development, financial support, and time. Also, certifying bodies should consider learning and certification preparation solutions that are affordable and small in size and that are digital and accessible 24/7. Recommendations are also made for future research needed to better understand this generation, which comprises nearly half of the American workforce in 2020.
El-Eter, Dania, "An Analysis of Generational Differences in the Selection and Pursuit of Professional Certification." Dissertation, Georgia State University, 2020.
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