Along your professional career, you have undoubtedly heard the alphabet soup of professional certifications available that are “essential” if you wish to advance. But is this accurate? Before you spend the time and money to achieve a professional certification check out these pro’s and con’s presented by Activecollab of the most popular certifications.

Some of the certifications you will find in professional project management and in IT are likely the following as summarized by Activecollab:

PMP (Project Management Professional) certificate covers project management in general. Because it doesn’t tie you down to a specific industry, it’s the most popular choice for project managers. There’s also CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management), which is a lite version of PMP and is easier to obtain (they are both issued by PMI).

ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) covers a larger area than PMP. ITIL is about the whole service lifecycle, and project management is just a part of it (the course also covers Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, and Service Operation). ITIL is applicable only in IT services industry.

CSM/PSM (Certified Scrum Master/Professional Scrum Master) are two different certificates (issued by different organizations) that both cover Scrum, the most popular agile framework in software development. If you know you want to be a Scrum project manager exclusively, getting a Scrum certification is a safe choice.

SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework®) takes Scrum and applies it to enterprise (given that Scrum works well for teams but doesn’t scale when it comes to the company as a whole). SAFe is used in large corporations who have software-intensive projects, where teams are highly interdependent.

Essentially, if you want to advance your career or your organization uses some project management framework, you need to get certified. If you want to make more money than someone without certification (up to $10,000 annually), you need certification. But if you want to manage projects better, certification probably won’t help you much. Having an industry-specific certification makes getting the job easier, although some certifications like Scrum will limit the scope of your opportunities to business already using that system. Although a lack of certification won’t diminish your abilities to project manage effectively, missing the appropriate alphabet soup behind your name can make you easier to pass over when competing with hundreds of resumes. You may also consider the time and money required for certification, although each certification is structured differently. For example, a 40-year career cost of the PMP certification will cost you $42,500. Also, consider that 98% of day to day activities may have nothing to do with your certification coursework unless you are involved in megaprojects. But running hundreds of small projects the classic skills of organization, people skills, and common sense often suffice. As with any certification, there is the danger of having certified colleagues whose only experience is getting a certificate.

Perhaps the greatest strength of the professional certificate is a measurable ROI, depending on which certification you choose. If money is one of the reasons you go to work, then that may be the only reason you need for certification – whether that is enough, is entirely up to you.