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A robust skill set and a beautiful portfolio are stepping stones on the way to professional success, but there’s one element that always captures an employer’s eye: certifications. As independent verification of your abilities and knowledge, they can be the difference between hiring and passing you over. This is especially important for the most widely used software on the market. Adobe is a perfect example, as the competition between specialists in its products is fierce, making an Adobe Certification a good way to stand out from the crowd.

Different Types of Certifications

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The problem lies in choosing the right certification. With a breadth of different programs and products, it can be difficult to choose which program to focus on, especially when you consider that the costs of Adobe Certified Expert examinations start at $60 (for Acrobat Reader) and can go as far as $359 (for corporate tools). Another issue is that four of these certificates, Insight, CQ5, Test Target, and Site Catalyst need to be recertified each year. Although the training process for them will give you a powerful set of skills necessary to leverage the capabilities of these tools, unless you are actively employed by a corporation which uses them and which will cover the recertification costs, they’re not worth the trouble.

Picking and Choosing

This leaves 17 other ACE certifications. As Adobe training material is available on the Internet free of charge (not to mention you can take part in various training courses, including dedicated classes organized by Adobe itself) and certification costs are almost uniformly $180, choosing the ACE certification boils down to figuring out your strongest skills and specializing in them. While it may be tempting to use an ACE examination as a motivator to catch up and develop your other skills, this is ill-advised. Adobe certificate exams are not easy and require a high degree of skill and knowledge.

The Arduous Selection Process

Selecting your strongest skills for certification is all the more important due to the fact that several ACE certificates, just like Adobe software, can be relevant to your occupation. For example, as a print designer you’ll obviously be able to handle InDesign with ease, but proficiency with Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and professional editions of Acrobat is also an integral part of the job description.

A good rule of thumb is to examine what kind of work you do most often. If it’s DTP, then an ACE certificate in InDesign can help you further refine and improve an already impressive skill set. However, if you’re more engaged in creating graphics for print, then a Photoshop or Illustrator ACE might be a much better choice.

Across the Board

This rule applies to all the other categories as well. A web designer might qualify for certification in Adobe ColdFusion, Dreamweaver, Flash, or Muse, but rarely are they going to be equally qualified in all areas of their work. ACE is a confirmation of mastery in a given category, so choosing ones that you have mastered or are close to mastering is the wisest choice you can make. The process of preparing for the examination allows to organize and review your accumulated knowledge and maximize the benefits. Instead of learning new skills from scratch, you are working with those you already have, honing them to perfection.

Bottom Line

An Adobe Certified Expert is a master of a given program, confirmed by an independent examination by Adobe. Regardless of whether you are a web developer, a graphic designer, or a video editor, it is a great way to further specialize in your given field and gain an advantage on the job market.

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Posted by Jason Segel

Jason Segel is focuses on the finer aspects of the computer industry. Whenever he's not busy helping others pass Adobe Certification, he can be found on Google+.

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