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Learn, Practice, Certify!

Washington State Library (WSL), colleges, and public libraries statewide are helping people bridge gaps in digital and IT skills with quality online courses and self-directed learning, leading to industry-recognized credentials that validate these skills to employers.

Recognizing libraries’ unique roles as local resources for lifelong learning, the state Legislature in 2014 began funding what is now known as the Microsoft LinkedIn Learning program to empower Washingtonians with the skills they need to advance in their career or begin a new one. With Microsoft LinkedIn Learning, WSL has put together a comprehensive pathway to success, from learning and practice to industry-recognized certification for many of the most in-demand skills and software applications.

Learn using resources from Northstar Digital Literacy, Microsoft Imagine Academy and LinkedIn Learning from any of Washington's public libraries or WSL with a valid library card and PIN. Additional resources may be available to support Northstar, IC3, MOS, MTA, MCF, Adobe, and Intuit QuickBooks certifications; contact your local public library or email WSL’s Workforce Development Librarian, Elizabeth Iaukea for more information. Note these resources are available only to people who live, work, or attend school in Washington; proof of proficiency is generally required prior to exam scheduling.

Everyone, however, is eligible to participate in Washington Libraries’ Cisco Networking Academy, which offers several self-paced online learning courses, some of which can earn college credit; Northstar Digital Literacy assessements and many of Northstar's learning tools are also available free of charge.

Get prepared with GMetrix practice tests. Available through WSL and participating state public libraries, GMetrix offers practice exams that help people prepare for certification and improve their skills. Use Certiport's Authorized testing center locator to find libraries that offer the GMetrix practice tests. If your local public library is not listed, WSL can provide access.

Earn a Northstar Digital Literacy certification by taking a Northstar assessment at a library offering exam proctoring. All other certifications described on this page are taken at Certiport Authorized Testing Center (CATC)s at participating WSL-partner public or tribal library, or college. Certification exams, which normally cost an average of $125 each, are FREE for Washington residents. As a result of library closures due to COVID-19, Certiport allows certification candidates to take exams at home.

The certification that is right for you depends on your current skill level and the job or career you are pursuing. These certifications reflect skills most employers — regardless of industry or occupation — are seeking:

  • Digital Literacy certifications - If you're just getting started using computers and the internet, or if you work in an industry that has more recently begun using technology, you may want to begin with one of these digital skills certifications. Certificates indicate demonstrated competence in computer digital literacy skills, as measured by  assessments, so that employers can be confident of your skills.
    • Northstar Digital Literacy Online, self-guided assessments measure mastery of basic skills in each of 14 areas, focusing on the foundational skills needed to use a computer and the internet in daily life, employment, and higher education. Test takers can receive certificates and/or digital badges when they pass Northstar assessments in a proctored environment at a Northstar testing location.
    • Internet Computing Core Certification (IC3) If you work in an industry that has more recently begun using technology, and want to begin with a solid foundation, IC3 can help you stand out from the crowd. Learn and then prove your computing fundamentals, key applications, and living online digital skills at three levels of competency - foundational, intermediate, and advanced.
  • Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certification Across all occupations and industries, proficiency with Microsoft Office software programs is the third most requested job skill (Washington Employment Security Department, 'Employer Demand, Top 25 Skill Clusters'). Prove you have the skills to be successful by becoming certified in one or more Office applications:  Word, Word Expert, Excel, Excel Expert, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access.

Additional software certifications you pursue will depend on your personal or specific job aspirations. WSL supports the following industry-specific certifications:  

  • The Microsoft Certified Educator (MCE) certification validates that educators have the global educator technology literacy competencies needed to provide a rich, custom learning experience for students. The Microsoft Certified Educator exam assesses whether educators understand how to apply technology tools in the six different content domains, not whether they are proficient in using specific technology tools.
  • Accounting, bookkeeping, or design thinking mastery are demonstrated by achieving Intuit certification in Quickbooks, Certified Bookeeping, or Design for Delight.
  • Interested in a career as a graphic designer, website creator, or videogame designer? Validate your Adobe Creative Cloud Suite prowess with one of seven Adobe Certified Professional (ACP) certifications.
  • Interested in a career in IT infrastructure, software development, data science, or database design? There are MTA certifications that match all these career paths and many more. Note:  all exams associated with the Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certifications will retire on June 30, 2022. The program will be replaced by the IT Specialist certification described below.
  • Introduced in July 2021, the IT Specialist program is aimed at candidates who are considering or just beginning a path to a career in information technology. Certify your knowledge in a broad range of IT topics, including software development, database administration, networking and security, mobility and device management, and coding.
  • Looking to the cloud? Microsoft's newest certification, Microsoft Certified Fundamentals (MCF), paves your way for careers in AI, Data Science, and Cloud Computing. Six certifications are currently available, with more to come.
  • Looking for something more cutting-edge? Unity is the leading content-creation platform for VR/AR, real-time 3D, and mobile 2D. Unity Certified User (UCU) shows employers you are ready to create movies, games, 3D models, VR simulations, and more.

Additional certifications in cyber-security, entrepreneurship, and communication skills are available, on a more limited basis. Email [email protected] to learn more.

Regardless of the certification(s) you choose, these internationally recognized industry credentials can help you enter or advance in the workforce with proven technical skills. After earning certifications, be sure to include them on your resume, highlight them in cover letters, include them in your email signature, and of course - highlight them on your LinkedIn profile. This short course segment, 'Add certificates and courses to your profile' from the LinkedIn Learning course, LinkedIn Profiles for Social Business Success, can show you how. Login to your LinkedIn Learning account through your public library's website to access this and other LinkedIn Learning content free of charge.

Credit for Prior Learning/Prior Learning Assessment: all Washington colleges award credit through Prior Learning Assessment (PLA); certification proves prior competency. Search for the name of your college and 'prior learning assessment' or 'credit for prior learning,' or contact the college directly and speak with the registrar.

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Funded in part by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA).