One of the first things I did was join the National Genealogical Society, and then I took 3 of their online courses. I hesitated at the title of the course called "Introduction to Genealogy" - I'd been doing research for 30 years; would it teach me anything new? I was very surprised to learn some basics, in both that course and the ones on census records. Although I received (and studied) the NGS Quarterly, most of the articles were way above my head. I joined the APG and started attending meetings. I created business cards, and became an Expert Provider with Ancestry Expert Connect. I sent for the NGS Home Study Course on CD's, and began the lessons. That was two and a half years ago, and in that time I have learned about records I didn't know existed. I have learned the importance of correct source citations, and I'm still learning how to write them. I've developed the skill of critical thinking, so that now when I look at a record, I think, "but how do I KNOW this is the person I'm looking for?" I just finished the final lesson of the Home Study Course: writing a biography of one of my ancestors. That was a rigorous exercise in footnoting and citations - and it actually looks almost like an NGSQ article.
There has been a lot of discussion over the last couple of years, online on blogs and Facebook and Twitter and email lists, about the value (or not) of certification. I've come to the conclusion that it doesn't really matter what anyone else thinks - I'm going for certification purely for myself. I want the assurance that I'm producing quality work, that will pass stringent standards. I can look back at the work I was doing six months, a year, or two years ago, and see how far I've come.
I still have a few more steps ahead of me, but I'm hoping to be able to compile a portfolio and submit it next year. Here's to "leveling up"!