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Top 11 Independent Consultant Certifications

This article will provide an overview of the top certifications for independent consultants, including requirements and benefits.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 18 min read

Certifications are important for independent consultants in the job market because they demonstrate expertise and knowledge of specific industry topics, technologies, and processes. This can help them stand out from other candidates when applying for jobs or consulting contracts. Certifications also provide validation of an individual’s qualifications, making them more attractive to potential employers or clients. Furthermore, certifications often come with continuing education requirements that keep independent consultants up-to-date on the latest trends and technology in their field. Ultimately, having certifications can make independent consultants more competitive in a crowded job market and help them land better opportunities.

This article reviews some of the top certifications for Independent Consultants and explains how they can help to further an independent consultant's career.

What are Independent Consultant Certifications?

Independent consultant certification is a type of professional certification that recognizes an individual's knowledge and experience in consulting. It is designed to help consultants demonstrate their expertise and differentiate themselves from the competition. This type of certification can be beneficial for both experienced and novice consultants, as it provides them with a way to prove their qualifications and capabilities.

For experienced consultants, independent consultant certification can provide greater credibility when seeking new clients or projects. Prospective employers will be more likely to trust someone who has been certified than someone who has no such recognition. Certification also allows experienced consultants to specialize in specific areas, which can give them an edge when competing for work.

For novice consultants, independent consultant certification can offer valuable guidance on how to approach consulting projects and increase their chances of success. Through courses or seminars associated with the certification program, they can gain insight into best practices for working with clients, managing projects, and developing strategies that will result in successful outcomes. Additionally, they may benefit from networking opportunities that come with being part of a professional organization dedicated to consulting excellence.

Overall, independent consultant certification is a great way for all types of consultants to gain recognition for their skills and abilities while furthering their career prospects. With this type of credential, individuals are able to stand out from the crowd and demonstrate their commitment to excellence in the field of consulting.

Pro Tip: When considering independent consultant certification, look for a program that offers both online and in-person learning opportunities. This will ensure you receive a comprehensive education on the topics relevant to your field, while also providing access to industry professionals who can provide valuable insight into the specific challenges of working as an independent consultant.

Related: What does an Independent Consultant do?

Top 11 Independent Consultant Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Independent Consultants today.

1. Certified Management Consultant (CMC)

Certified Management Consultant (CMC) is a professional certification that recognizes the highest level of achievement for management consultants. It is awarded by the Institute of Management Consultants (IMC) USA, which is an international accreditation and certification body for management consulting professionals.

To become a CMC, applicants must meet certain criteria including having at least five years of experience in the field of management consulting, completing a qualifying exam, and submitting client references. The process typically takes between 6-12 months to complete.

The cost to become a CMC varies depending on the country you are applying from. In the US, it costs around $1,000 USD to apply for the CMC designation and an additional $400 USD per year for membership fees.

2. Certified Professional Consultant on Aging (CPCA)

Certified Professional Consultant on Aging (CPCA) is a certification program offered by the National Association of Professional Gerontologists (NAPG). This certification is designed to recognize professionals who have achieved a high level of expertise in the field of gerontology. The CPCA credential demonstrates that an individual has acquired the knowledge and skills necessary to provide effective consultation services to older adults, their families, and other stakeholders in the aging process.

The CPCA requires applicants to have at least a bachelor's degree in gerontology or related field, plus two years of professional experience in aging services. Applicants must also pass an exam administered by NAPG. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions covering topics such as aging trends, health and social services for older adults, and ethical issues related to aging.

It typically takes about six months to complete the application process and take the exam. The cost for taking the exam is $275 for members of NAPG, or $375 for non-members. Once certified, individuals must maintain their certification through continuing education credits every two years.

3. Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP)

Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) is a professional certification offered by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA). It is designed to recognize individuals who have the knowledge and skills to analyze, document, and manage business requirements. CBAP certification is an internationally recognized standard for business analysis professionals.

To become certified as a CBAP, you must meet certain prerequisites and pass an exam. The prerequisites include having at least 7500 hours of experience in business analysis over the past 10 years, or 3500 hours if you have a related degree. You must also demonstrate your knowledge of the IIBA's Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK).

The exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions and takes up to four hours to complete. The cost of the exam is $325 USD for members of IIBA and $450 USD for non-members.

Once you have passed the exam, you will receive your CBAP certification from IIBA. This certification is valid for three years and can be renewed by completing continuing education activities or taking an updated version of the exam.

4. Certified Project Management Professional (PMP)

Certified Project Management Professional (PMP) is a professional certification offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). It is designed to demonstrate an individual’s expertise in project management and their ability to lead successful projects. The PMP certification is one of the most sought-after credentials in the project management field.

It typically takes between four and six months to prepare for the PMP exam, depending on how much time you can dedicate to studying. To be eligible for the PMP exam, you must have a minimum of three years of project management experience, 4500 hours leading and directing projects, 35 hours of project management education or training, and an undergraduate degree.

To get your PMP certification, you must first apply for it through the PMI website. Once approved, you will need to register for the exam and pay a fee which varies from country to country. After registering, you will receive study materials from PMI that will help you prepare for the exam. When ready, you can take the exam at any authorized testing center worldwide. Upon passing the exam with a score of at least 70%, you will become certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP).

The cost of getting your PMP certification varies depending on whether or not you are a member of PMI. For non-members, it costs $555 USD while members pay $405 USD.

5. Certified Scrum Master (CSM)

Certified Scrum Master (CSM) is a professional certification offered by the Scrum Alliance, an organization that promotes and supports the use of Scrum in software development. The CSM certification is designed to help individuals learn the basics of Scrum and gain a better understanding of how it can be used to improve project management.

The CSM certification requires completion of a two-day course and passing an exam. The course covers topics such as the roles and responsibilities within a Scrum team, product backlogs, sprint planning, daily scrums, sprint reviews, retrospectives, and other related topics. After completing the course and passing the exam, individuals become Certified Scrum Masters.

The cost for taking the two-day course can vary depending on location but typically ranges from $900-$1,500 USD. Once you have completed the course and passed the exam you will receive your CSM certificate which is valid for two years. After two years you must renew your certification by taking part in continuing education activities or attending another CSM course.

Overall, becoming a Certified Scrum Master can be beneficial for those looking to gain more knowledge about Agile methods and increase their employability in project management roles.

6. Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a professional designation given by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). It is a certification that allows individuals to provide accounting services to the public. To become a CPA, an individual must pass the Uniform CPA Examination and meet other state-specific requirements.

The exam consists of four sections: Auditing and Attestation, Financial Accounting and Reporting, Regulation, and Business Environment and Concepts. Each section requires approximately 12 hours of study time and can take anywhere from 1-4 months to complete depending on the individual's level of preparation.

To get certified as a CPA, you must first meet your state's educational requirements which typically include 150 semester hours of college coursework with at least 24 semester hours in accounting courses. You will also need to pass the Uniform CPA Exam as well as any additional state-specific exams or requirements that may be required in your state.

The cost of becoming a CPA varies depending on your state but typically ranges between $200-$600 for application fees plus exam fees which range from $150-$200 per section. Additionally, you may need to pay for study materials such as textbooks or online courses which can range from $50-$500 depending on the type of material used.

7. Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

Certified Financial Planner (CFP) is a professional certification in the field of financial planning. It is awarded by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board). The CFP designation requires that an individual meet certain educational and experience requirements, pass a comprehensive exam, agree to adhere to the CFP Board's Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility and complete continuing education requirements every two years.

It typically takes between 2-3 years to become a CFP, depending on how much time you are able to dedicate to studying and preparing for the exam. To become a CFP, you must first meet the educational requirements which include completing a course of study at an accredited college or university that includes courses in financial planning, insurance, taxation, retirement planning, investments and estate planning. You must also have three years of full-time financial planning related experience or equivalent part-time experience prior to taking the exam.

In order to take the CFP Exam, you must first submit an application with supporting documents such as transcripts and proof of work experience to the CFP Board. Once your application is approved by the board, you will be given access to register for the exam. The cost of registering for the exam is currently $695 USD plus applicable taxes.

Once you have passed the exam and met all other requirements for certification (including completion of any required continuing education), you can apply for your CFP designation from the CFP Board. There is an annual fee associated with maintaining your certification which currently stands at $325 USD plus applicable taxes per year.

8. Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)

Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) is a professional designation given by the CFA Institute, a global association of investment professionals. It is considered one of the most prestigious and sought-after credentials in the field of finance and investing. The CFA designation signifies expertise in portfolio management, financial analysis, and ethical practices.

The CFA program consists of three levels: Level I, Level II, and Level III. Each level requires 300 hours of study time and must be completed within four years. To become a CFA charterholder, candidates must pass all three levels of the exam and have four years of professional work experience in the investment decision-making process.

To get started on the CFA program, you’ll need to register with the CFA Institute and pay an enrollment fee. You’ll also need to purchase study materials for each level of the exam, which can range from $400-$1,000 depending on which materials you choose. Additionally, there are fees associated with taking each level of the exam; these fees range from $650-$950 per level depending on when you register for the exam.

In total, it can cost anywhere from $2,500-$4,500 to complete all three levels of the CFA program depending on when you register for each level and what materials you choose to purchase.

9. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) is an internationally recognized certification that validates a professional’s knowledge and experience in the field of information security. It is a vendor-neutral certification that covers a broad range of topics related to security management, operations, architecture, and software development. The CISSP credential is administered by the International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC2).

The CISSP exam consists of 250 multiple-choice questions and takes six hours to complete. To be eligible for the exam, candidates must have at least five years of cumulative paid work experience in two or more of the eight domains covered by the Common Body of Knowledge (CBK). Candidates may substitute one year of relevant college education for one year of work experience.

To get the CISSP certification, candidates must pass the exam and agree to abide by ISC2's Code of Ethics. After passing the exam, applicants must submit an endorsement form signed by another certified professional to verify their work experience. Once this process is complete, they will receive their official certificate from ISC2.

The cost for taking the CISSP exam varies depending on where you take it and what type of exam you take (e.g., online or paper-based). Generally speaking, it costs around US$699 for non-members and US$599 for members to take the online version of the exam.

10. Six Sigma Green Belt Certification

Six Sigma Green Belt Certification is a professional certification that demonstrates an individual's knowledge and understanding of the Six Sigma methodology. It is designed to help individuals improve their process improvement skills and knowledge.

The Six Sigma Green Belt Certification program typically takes 8-10 weeks to complete, depending on the provider. The program consists of online or classroom training, and can also include hands-on practice in a real-world environment. In order to qualify for the certification, candidates must have at least three years of work experience in a related field, such as quality management or process improvement.

In order to obtain the Six Sigma Green Belt Certification, candidates must pass an exam administered by an accredited organization. The exam covers topics such as process improvement techniques, data analysis tools and methods, project management principles, and problem solving strategies. Candidates must also demonstrate their ability to apply these concepts in real world situations.

The cost of obtaining the Six Sigma Green Belt Certification varies depending on the provider and type of training chosen. Generally speaking, it can range from $1,000-$2,500 USD for online courses or $3,000-$4,000 USD for classroom courses.

11. Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Certification

Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Certification is a professional certification program designed to help individuals develop the skills and knowledge necessary to successfully lead and manage Lean Six Sigma projects. It is an advanced level of training that focuses on the principles, methodologies, tools, and techniques of Lean Six Sigma.

The certification typically takes between 4-6 months to complete depending on the provider. It usually involves attending classroom-based sessions, completing online courses, and taking a final exam. In order to get certified as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, you must have at least three years of experience in leading or managing projects and demonstrate mastery of the principles and tools associated with Lean Six Sigma.

In order to get certified as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, you must first complete an approved course or program from an accredited provider. The cost of these programs can vary depending on the provider but generally range from $2,500 - $5,000 USD.

Do You Really Need a Independent Consultant Certificate?

When it comes to making the decision to pursue an independent consultant certificate, the answer depends on your individual needs and goals. An independent consultant certificate can be beneficial for a variety of reasons, but it is not necessary for everyone.

The most important factor to consider when deciding whether or not to pursue an independent consultant certificate is your current level of experience and expertise in the field. If you already have extensive experience in the industry, then there may be no need to invest in additional training or certification. On the other hand, if you are relatively new to the field, then a certificate may be necessary in order to gain credibility with potential clients and establish yourself as an expert in your chosen field. Additionally, if you plan on working as a freelancer or contractor for multiple companies, having an independent consultant certificate can demonstrate your commitment and professionalism.

In addition to experience, another key factor that should be taken into account when considering an independent consultant certificate is your long-term career goals. If you plan on eventually transitioning into a full-time role within a larger organization or launching your own business venture, having a certificate can provide additional legitimacy and help open up more opportunities for advancement. It can also give you access to specialized resources that may not otherwise be available without certification.

Overall, whether or not you pursue an independent consultant certificate ultimately depends on your individual needs and career aspirations. Although it can offer numerous advantages, it is not essential for everyone who wishes to work as an independent consultant.

Related: Independent Consultant Resume Examples

FAQs About Independent Consultant Certifications

Q1. What are the requirements for becoming an independent consultant?

A1. Requirements for becoming an independent consultant vary depending on the type of consulting services you offer, but may include certification or licensing, relevant experience, and a strong business plan.

Q2. Is there a certification process for independent consultants?

A2. Yes, many organizations offer independent consultant certifications in a variety of fields such as accounting, engineering, management consulting, IT consulting, and more.

Q3. How long does it take to become certified as an independent consultant?

A3. The length of time it takes to become certified will depend on the specific certification program you choose and the requirements associated with it. Generally speaking, most certifications can be completed within 6-12 months.

Q4. What is the cost of obtaining an independent consultant certification?

A4. The cost of obtaining an independent consultant certification will depend on the specific program you choose and the requirements associated with it. Most certifications range from $500-$1500 USD per year in fees and costs associated with taking exams and renewing certifications over time.

Q5. Are there any benefits to becoming certified as an independent consultant?

A5: Yes! Becoming certified as an independent consultant can provide you with credibility in your field as well as access to resources and networking opportunities that can help you grow your business and increase your client base.