Is PPC Certification Worth It?

It seems like a lot of folks are interested in getting a PPC career these days. And I wholeheartedly welcome it! At least in Austin, it seems like there are far more positions open for talented PPC folk than there are people to fill them. I’ve been hitting a lot of career fairs and networking events now that I deal with hiring people on my online marketing team. And one question comes up very often: is PPC certification worth it?

Let me answer that with a little of my own experience with Google AdWords certification and Microsoft AdCenter certification. Back when I started my career, the agency I was working at sponsored our AdWords certification. I took the test (and passed!) but qualification requirements have changed since then and I never bothered with renewing the certification. I certainly helped me get the next job I had after the agency, but since then I’ve been sought out due to my LinkedIn resume and my blogging efforts.

My Microsoft AdCenter certification story is much shorter. Late last year, Microsoft started offering free accreditation for their AdCenter certification. They said it was a limited time offer, so I took the test on a whim and passed with flying colors. They’re still offering this free, “limited time” offer (although I’m not sure just how limited this time is if it’s been going on for months now). Although I’m a little skeptical about the true scarcity of this offer, I do encourage people to go ahead and get the certification. It’s free, and should only take about two to three hours of your time.

So do I think it’s worth it? Absolutely. Will it help you get a PPC job? Maybe. As a hiring manager, I would definitely like to see a AdWords or AdCenter certification on a resume. But it’s not everything. I’m much more impressed by hands-on PPC experience or an interesting, complex online marketing project someone has worked on. But if you’re just starting out in your career and don’t have experience yet, I think that $50 and an investment of your time is a small price to pay for this strong indicator of online marketing competence. I wouldn’t hire someone on a PPC certification alone, but it would certainly give you an advantage versus someone at the same experience level who lacked the certification.

Taking either test only requires a few hours of studying some free materials. AdCenter certification is free for now, and the AdWords certification only costs $100 ($50 per exam, and you have to pass two). That’s far less than the certification costs of most other specialized professions. Online marketing is a growing field, and there’s certainly a lack of talent in it. I encourage anyone with an interest in marketing to go the online route if you want to have some job stability. Passing your certification exams is the first step.

About Shawn Livengood

Shawn Livengood is a search engine marketing professional based in Austin, Texas. He has extensive experience managing pay-per-click ad campaigns for clients in various industries, from small home-based businesses to large international companies. You can connect with Shawn on Google+.
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3 Responses to Is PPC Certification Worth It?

  1. Ryan says:

    I would agree that yes it is. I worked as an in house PPC manager for several years and when I was looking for a new job recently I was almost always asked if I was certified. I now view it as necessary if you are considering a new job or want to get into the industry.

  2. Shawn says:

    Hello, I am new to PPC and am taking Market Motive’s class on this. Do you have advice on how to get some experience this field? I’m having trouble getting interviews, do you have any recommended steps I should take? I’m looking to get hands on experience.

    • Hi Shawn. If I was trying to break into this field today, here’s what I would do.

      1. Sign up for the Google Engage program. If you get approved, you’ll get 10 or so $100 vouchers for starting new AdWords accounts.
      2. Once you get the vouchers, find some local businesses or nonprofits that are not running PPC campaigns. Offer to give them the free vouchers in exchange for letting you run the AdWords account for them. Don’t charge them anything (yet), and you’ll probably get a few yeses.
      3. Run a very constricted, local-only AdWords account for each of the businesses and learn as you go. If you do a good job, some of them might even hire you for freelance opportunities.

      After you run 10 or so accounts, you’ll probably have enough experience to start freelancing. Or, you could approach some local agencies and ask if they have any entry-level positions. I don’t know what the job market is like in your area, but I can say that agencies here in Austin are always hurting for new talent. And thanks to the Engage program and a little hustle, you should get enough experience under your belt to get their attention.

      Good luck!