What are micro-credentials?
Micro-credentials are certifications that prove your mastery of a specific topic. Sometimes referred to as micro-certifications, digital badges, nanodegrees, web badges, or mini degrees, they are typically obtained by completing a course that resembles a college class. Some are available online exclusively, some in the classroom, and some can be obtained either way.
Anyone looking to complete the course will typically be asked to attend/view lectures, complete assignments, create and present a portfolio, pass skills tests, attend conferences and display their knowledge in a work setting. This can take anywhere from a couple weeks to a year, depending on the skill being developed and intensity of the course.
Micro-credentials can be obtained in a number of different areas, across a multitude of industries. They can range from broad applications such as critical thinking, leadership, managing projects, etc. to specific skill sets like front-end web development, teaching writing in high school classrooms, formative assessment, etc. with thousands more to choose from.
Are they important?
According to Online Schools Center, 95% percent of hiring managers are interested in micro-credentials when it comes to making a hiring decision. Many companies are currently looking for potential hires that are willing to continue their education and add to their skillset. Micro-credentials are becoming increasingly important for individuals who are looking to develop their careers.
Will micro-credentials affect our education system?
Some colleges, including MIT, Columbia University, and the University of Michigan have already begun offering programs that award micro-credentials. This is an attempt to reach out to students who are interested in career development.
However, there are thousands of individuals who see micro-credentialing as an alternative method of gaining an education. Rather than investing tens of thousands of dollars in a bachelor’s degree, you can spend a fraction of that to learn a specialized skill that will help you gain employment, or move up in your field.
Of course, a four-year degree involves a great deal more than gaining a single micro-credential, however as tuition costs rise exponentially, many young adults may consider alternatives to bachelor’s degrees when it comes time to join the workforce.