Why Certification Matters

February 20, 2024


Interested in certification as an admin or executive assistant, but not sure if it’s worth it? Hear from your peers on the benefits of receiving the Professional Administrative Certification of Excellence - PACE, including raises and new opportunities through community. Featuring admins from Capital One, Amentum, AARP, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, including Anne Sherwood in conversation with Peyton Ticknor.

Recorded at the Administrative Professionals Conference 2023 and produced by the American Society of Administrative Professionals - ASAP. Learn more and submit a listener question at

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Leah Warwick: Hey, everyone. I'm Leah Warwick, and you're listening to The Admin Edge. At the Administrative Professionals Conference 2023, we talked to attendees about how the Professional Administrative Certification of Excellence (or PACE) has helped them in their careers. First, we'll hear from Raine Palmer, Group Administrative Assistant at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Raine Palmer: So I've been in my current position for a little over two years now. It was within my first year that my administrative services coordinator told me about PACE. I had never had the opportunity to expand beyond what I knew as an admin, to know that there was something that I could show that I've done the work, [and] I'm going to keep striving to do better.


Just the fact that I could learn so much by reading, by seeing the videos, by taking the exam itself... And now that I have that knowledge, I've been able to apply it in my actual working position. Just little bits of information you never think about... "Oh yes, the cloud." I now know more about that, and so I can advise someone on it. Or if you're talking about, well, these are the different ways that we can manage people…

My favorite part of PACE, and I'm going to be completely honest about it, is managing your manager. When you work with executives, sometimes you think, "Well, I don't have any power to influence anything they say." But PACE empowers you to actually take charge and be able to guide them with the knowledge you have so that they can do their best work, and you can do your best work alongside them. 

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Leah Warwick: Next, you'll hear from Cheryl Hinton, Executive Assistant at the AARP National Office.

Cheryl Hinton: At my job, I felt that they considered my job like the low man on the totem pole, and I wanted to really be seen. After I came from the first conference (APC), you realize there's a lot of people that feel the same way like you do. Then I was like, "You know what? Why should I just stay quiet and just take it when I'm meeting these people and getting these classes." I said, "You know what? I'm going to put myself on the map." I took the class. I took the certification. I passed. 


When I brought it back to my job, the response that my boss gave me... I was like, whoa! He said — I can't say word-for-word, but he said he was so happy for me. He gave me $200 because we gets points at my job, and 200 points equates to $200. My boss never gave me points. He was saying, "I'm so happy that you got the training." He was just so proud of me. I was looking at him like: I've been working with you for 15 years. You've never said that. I always got good reviews, but he never really expressed that. So I was like, okay, that's really good. 


And so it was beneficial for me to learn it. Plus, the group that I was in... Lisa, she started a study group. I don't know if you might know us, because we kinda famous, the PACE Rockstars. Let me tell you something. I met some fantastic ladies. We got the sisterhood. It was so — I can't even explain to you how I felt, just being in that group and studying with those ladies for six months. It was awesome. It was really awesome. 

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Leah Warwick: Now let's hear from Ruth Zapata, Administrative Assistant at CapitalOne.

Ruth Zapata: I'm PACE certified. I personally really had a great experience. CapitalOne did a Google Classroom for us, and so I was learning alongside a few of my other colleagues. It was definitely a morale boost. It was great to feel like, "Okay, I know what I'm doing." It's aligned with everything. 


I think any time you take an exam and ace it, you're like, "Okay, yes!"

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Leah Warwick: Next up, Nakia Whittaker-Woody, Facilities Coordinator at Amentum, in conversation with fellow ASAP Advisory Board Member, Peyton Ticknor, about her PACE journey. Nakia speaks first.

Nakia Woody: I want to gauge my own barometer of how effective I'm being. Or how much do I know? What do I need to work on... interpersonal communication skills.

A lot of people like to see credentials. They're like, "Oh, you've got this little job." No. I got this job that I'm good at. So I think a lot of people like to see credentials, and that leads to the credentialing and having a little bit more confidence. 

The experience has been great. I'm loving the session that I'm in this morning. I actually have a study partner, and we meet every Thursday to prepare for this, so it's been a pretty great experience. 

Peyton Ticknor: Where did you meet your study partner?


Nakia Woody: In the Circle.

Peyton Ticknor: I met mine — it was before we had Circle, but it was when ASAP started doing the coffee chats back in 2020. That's how I joined a study group. Had I not joined that study group, I don't know that I would've actually ever finished PACE. They set up a really good timeline of studying, and they paced it out — PACE-d it out! — so perfectly that we weren't overwhelmed with the material and the information, so that was really helpful. I think you having a study buddy is wonderful. 

Nakia Woody: Yes, definitely. It's keeping me accountable, because I'm super busy and I literally have to stop to study; so I'm ready for her and accountable to being able to support her and her [studies]. 

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Leah Warwick: Finally, Peyton sat down with Anne Sherwood, Administrative Professional and Educational Coordinator at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, to talk about the benefits of being PACE certified. Anne speaks first, describing why she signed up for PACE. 


Anne Sherwood: I wanted to be able to show people essentially that I know what I'm doing, because sometimes admins — I think the view is that you just fell into it and that it's like a backup career, or it's something you just did. But, really, we are professionals and we're project managers. I think it's really important to show business leaders that we know what we are doing.

Peyton Ticknor: I absolutely agree. I signed up for PACE back in 2020, when I found I had some extra time during COVID when I wasn't booking travel, which was about 25% of my job, so I signed up back in 2020. I mostly did it to show leadership that I was dedicated to this profession.

Let's talk about recertification. Once you get PACE certified, you have your certification for two years, and during that two years you need to recertify at the end of that two years. What did you do for recertification? 


Anne Sherwood: This is what I'm so excited about [with] PACE recertification. With so many other types of certification, you have to get your recertification credits through their programs, and so you've got to pay for their classes. PACE, as long as you're taking a class on LinkedIn Learning, or you are attending a development class provided by your employer — anything that will expand your skills — one hour is 0.1 credit units. So if you don't have money to spend on taking a $250 class, you can get your recertification credits completely free, and PACE has all kinds of free classes.


Peyton Ticknor: Yeah, ASAP offers the free webinars every month.

Anne Sherwood: They offer free webinars. Any question you have, you can go in there and you can find a 30-minute/one-hour class that's free that will answer questions and will give you an insight that maybe you didn't think of.

Peyton Ticknor: So you can find those by going on the ASAP website?

Anne Sherwood: Yes. You just go on. You search whatever — how to make a Gantt chart. I had to learn how to make a Gantt chart. When Fred came and said, "I need you to make a Gantt chart," I was like, "What's that?" So I Googled "what is a Gantt chart?" And then I went to ASAP. Sure enough, there's a — perfect.

Peyton Ticknor: Unlike you — which I just learned something from you about the free webinars through ASAP, which I don't know how I didn't already know that — I usually use the credits from attending the Administrative Professionals Conference, which you're at right now, to get my recertification, so that's how I get mine every two years.


I am coming up on my — I guess in April of 2024 will be my four-year, so I will re-up my certification in April of 2024, and I will use my credits for attending this conference this week for that. That's wonderful. 

Is there anything else you want to tell our audience about PACE? 

Anne Sherwood: I think when you have those PACE letters behind your name, it is so much easier to network with people. It's like you ran into somebody, and you found out you went to the same school, you've got the same tattoo. You're like, "Hey, I'm PACE certified, too!"

Peyton Ticknor: I want to say that joining the PACE study group that I joined — it's almost been four years now. We still keep up with each other. We still send out happy birthday emails. We still have a quarterly check-in on Zoom. We still cheer each other on. So if one of us is going up for an interview, we'll send an email. We call ourselves the PACE Rockstar Study Group. We'll send an email and say, "Guys, send up some good vibes. I'm going in for an interview." And then we'll all cheer for each other.

00:09:59 It's just some of the best friendships that I've made, just studying for PACE.

Anne Sherwood: That is very exciting, yes. I cannot say enough good things about ASAP and about PACE. I have had nothing but a great experience with it, and I'm so excited to be at this conference. This is my first one.

Peyton Ticknor: Oh, wonderful.

Anne Sherwood: And I'm short and loud and bald, so people will —

Peyton Ticknor: So if you see Anne out there everybody —

Anne Sherwood: And you will hear me long before you see me.

Peyton Ticknor: Thank you so much, Anne, for being here. We're going to go for a listener question. This question was submitted anonymously. This person writes: "Is getting certified as an administrative professional worth it? I either want to make more money and get promoted where I am, or stand out from the competition when applying to jobs elsewhere. Do those letters after your name make a difference?" 


Anne Sherwood: They absolutely make a difference. Personally, I did get a raise (or a bigger raise) after getting the PACE certification. I'm sure it's not just because of that one thing, but it's because of that thing, it's because I'm committed, it's because I showed the effort to go get that. 

Also, I have been reached out to on LinkedIn much more after getting my PACE certification, like, "Hey, we have a job that we think you might be a good fit for." I love my job, and I'm not going to leave it any time soon, but it's always nice to get the flowers. 


Finally, if you are an employer looking for a new admin, seeing those letters says that person knows 1) what they are doing, and 2) they are passionate about being an admin and about advancing their skills. That is a person that you want on your team. 

Peyton Ticknor: I completely agree with you. Well, Anne, thank you so much for joining us today.

Anne Sherwood: Thank you for having me.

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Leah Warwick: Thank you for listening to The Admin Edge, produced by the American Society of Administrative Professionals. Original music and audio editing by Warwick Productions, with audio and video production at APC by 5 Tool Productions. If you like this podcast, please leave us a nice review wherever you listen to podcasts, and subscribe. If you want to send a listener question, you can submit via the form on our website at

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