What’s the Value of a Color Professional Certification?
There are many reasons to pursue a professional certification; It can be done for professional development, to learn or improve a skill or set of skills, to gain employment, or it could be done as a way to demonstrate to others what you know. Whatever your reason for choosing to go down the path to certification there are benefits in the end.
In the world of print and more specifically color management there are a few certification options to look into. However, many of them are either very narrow in scope, vendor specific or are tied to an outdated curriculum that may not relate to the real work that is being done today. So, making the right choice ensures the best return on your investment and that you get the most meaningful certification.
The SGIA Digital Color Professional Certification is one that I can recommend with confidence to anyone working in the field of digital color. The most common path to this certification includes attending a Color Management Boot Camp, a 2.5-day hands on training class, before taking a certification exam. A somewhat unique aspect of this certification is that there are two levels of certificates offered, making it relevant to a larger group of people. The “Qualified” level is reached after completion of the exam, this makes it appropriate for everyone from customer service representatives to designers to executives. Once you are verified you have the opportunity to submit a print off your system to be measured at The Sonoco Institute (SGIA’s third party validator) at Clemson University -- one of the nation's top Graphic Communications University programs. This print is a way of measuring that the principles learned can be put into practice. Once this print passes the qualification criteria then you reach the “Certified” level.
Becoming certified can help in many ways. As an individual it can be key to demonstrating that you’ve mastered color management skills. It can give you and others confidence in your abilities and decisions. With this confidence you can be sure you’re following best practices to get color reproduction correct, not just doing what you’ve always done or what worked last time. A new certification could also mean new career opportunities either within your company or at a new one.
As a company having employees that have a SGIA Digital Color Professional Certification you can help instill confidence in your customers that when they send their job to you the colors will be as expected. It will also allow you to act as an authority for them to come to with color questions or to help them get their color production right. There is a financial advantage to having a certified Digital Color Professional on staff as well. When the techniques learned in the certification program are put into place, it can lead to a significant savings in ink, materials, and time.
Once you’re ready to start down the path to becoming certified as a SGIA Digital Color Professional, take the first step and sign up for a Color Management Boot Camp (SGIA.org/education/workshops). The events are held all over the US with a few international locations this year, so there’s likely to be one close to you or in a destination you’d like to visit.
Ben Starr is a Color Management and Workflow Expert, with a BS in Printing Management from Western Michigan University. For over 10 years he has provided color and workflow installation and training services for many leading creative agencies, pre-media, and print production facilities. Ben has also had several opportunities to work in color management research and development, and some of the findings from this research has been published in various industry publications. Additionally, Ben's research has yielded new efficiencies at the companies he's worked for. Ben has also spent several years leading pre-media departments for traditional and digital print.