The one question I’m asked most often by aspiring OBMs has to be: “What’s the difference between an OBM and a Certified OBM®?”

Of course, there are OBMs who make a good living without being Certified. And I applaud them for having the get-up-and-go to do so! But in order to grow a fully sustainable OBM business with true longevity, having an industry-backed qualification is almost always imperative.

It’s understandable that aspiring OBMs might wonder if they really NEED a certification. With so many “fake it ’til you make it” type training programs out there, it can be tough to weed out wether the Certification you’ll come out with is actually worth it.

If you’re an OBM wondering if you really need to be Certified, or if you’re thinking about pursuing the Certification, it’s important to be clear on whether or not it’s the right move for YOU.

So let’s dive in to some of the key differences between an OBM and Certified OBM®.

What’s the difference between an OBM and Certified OBM®?

Membership in the IAOBM

This is probably the BIGGEST difference between an OBM and Certified OBM®.

Almost anyone can call themselves an OBM with the right skills. On the other hand, Certified OBMs® train extensively to receive an industry-standard qualification backed by the International Association of Online Business Managers (IAOBM).

A Certification is ONLY truly valuable, authentic, and credible when backed by an external organization that regulates the profession. That’s why Certified OBM®s have the backing of the IAOBM. They adhere to the highest standards, ensuring they are fully equipped with the advanced skills needed to make a client’s business (and their own business) thrive.

ONLY Certified OBMs® can be a member of the association and receive all the juicy benefits that come with it!

As members of the IAOBM, Certified OBMs® receive the following benefits:

  • A listing on the Certified OBM® Directory. This makes it super easy for potential clients to find a trusted OBM trained to industry standards.
  • Ability to submit RFPs (Requests for Proposals) to potential clients. 90% of newly Certified OBMs® get their first high paying clients this way.
  • Monthly training & ongoing professional development with Tina Forsyth (founder of the IAOBM) and guest experts.
  • IAOBM member’s-only Online Resource Center. Access to constantly updated video trainings, client service agreements, and more to ensure they stay relevant in the industry.
  • Closed-door Certified OBM® Community for networking and support
  • Certified OBM® badge – a mark of professional and ethical standards of service
  • And so much MORE!

Advantage during hiring

Having real-world experience is essential when it comes to getting hired by your ideal OBM clients. But in a competitive market, having a Certification helps you stand out and positions you ahead of the competition.

In survey by, “100% of respondents agreed that industry certifications are preferred during the hiring process, in both new hire and internal employee placement scenarios.”

As members of the IAOBM, Certified OBMs® have the edge when it comes to landing clients. Why? It’s the gold-standard benchmark of quality in the OBM industry.

Advanced training

Many aspiring OBMs have skills they can leverage from a former corporate role in order to straight-up call themselves OBMs. On the flip side, Certified OBMs® undergo advanced training on all strategic aspects of managing and leading a client’s business.

This equips Certified OBMs® with a more holistic skill set, so they can confidently dive into a client’s business and get them the real results they need.

The comprehensive training that Certified OBMs® receive is unmatched elsewhere. Their training incorporates a digital MBA-style education, with a further focus on systems, technology, strategy, and leadership. These are just some of the areas that Certified OBMs® are trained in (check out the full list here).

The Certified OBM® Trainers mentoring them also have experience working with 7-figure organizations across a wealth of industries (online and offline). Because of this, Certified OBMs® receive a high level of expert support as they grow their skillset. This ‘real world’ experience is something that is often lost in the wealth of illegitimate “certifications” that are out there.

Higher rates

With the right experience, both OBMs and Certified OBMs® can charge their clients high rates. But here’s the thing – our clients want results. And that’s where the difference lies between an OBM and Certified OBM®.

You can talk the ‘make that bread’ type talk to your clients until the cows come home. But this is where I see a lot of self-starting OBMs go wrong. The bottom line is: if you aren’t getting your clients the real results they NEED, then you won’t ‘make that bread’ either in the long run.

That’s why Certified OBMs® can charge as high as they do. They have trained to adopt the advanced skill set that justifies their worth.

Certified OBMs® have an authentic and internationally recognized Certification. As a result, their starting rates are significantly higher than that of a standard OBM. On average, a Certified OBM® will begin on a standard 20hr/month retainer at around $2500+/-.

When it comes to experienced Certified OBMs®, the value really shoots through the roof! And so do the rates…

A Certified OBM® with a few years experience can charge upwards of $120/hr+ (listen to LaToya’s story for more on this). They get paid more as the client’s biz makes more money – because they have a direct impact on the client’s bottom line.

Becoming a Certified OBM®

Certifications provide status to those who have proven their skill set. It gives potential clients assurance that they’ll be working with the cream of the crop and getting the best for their business.

Training to receive Certified OBM® status gives potential clients the assurance that you can achieve real results for their business. It’s what will give you the edge when it comes to hiring, and it’ll allow you to charge sky-high rates as a top-tier Certified Online Business Manager™.

Access to the incredible benefits and client exposure that comes with being a member of the IAOBM is reserved for Certified OBMs® only. Training via the OBM Certification Program is the only way for OBMs to receive this distinctive industry advantage.

Are you a VA or OBM looking to level-up your services? Check out the OBM Certification Program to read more about receiving the comprehensive training that will position you ahead of the pack.

You’ll be trained by leading experts with bonafide expertise, as well as learning how to find and work with higher-level clients so that your business continues to thrive in the ever-changing online landscape!

Now over to you: Are you ready to step up into a top-tier OBM role? Maybe you’re not sure if you’re the right fit? Let us know what’s holding you back in the comments!


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