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Ask Slashdot: Best Certifications To Get?

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the i-recommend-terminator-repair dept.

IT 444

Hardhead_7 writes "Our recent discussion about how much your degree is worth got me thinking. I've been working in the IT field for several years now, but I don't have anything to my name other than an A+ certificate and vendor specific training (e.g., Dell certified). Now I'm looking to move up in the IT field, and I want some stuff on my resume to demonstrate to future employers that I know what I'm doing, enough that I can get in the door for an interview. So my question to Slashdot is this: What certifications are the most valuable and sought-after? What will impress potential employers and be most likely to help land a decent job for someone who doesn't have a degree, but knows how to troubleshoot and can do a bit of programming if needed?"

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Vodka! (4, Informative)

Anrego (830717) | more than 3 years ago | (#36292984)

Probably depends a lot on where you are.

Around here, certifications mean very little. Employers are generally more concerned about the kind of work you've done at previous jobs. A few good references who will tell people how awesome you are and an impressive list of "my duties included" does you more good than a sheet full of "ABC+ Pro Certified" here.

That said, I've talked to friends elsewhere that have related the exact opposite.

I'd say ask around your local area. No point in getting a plate full of certifications if they mean nothing to the employers in your area.

Re:Vodka! (2)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293012)



Bound to do you head-and-shoulders above your peers in the field.

Enjoy trying to pass.

When I stood for CISSP 11 years ago, there were no "boot camps" and only two books on the shelf. was just starting up...

Now, it's doable.

J. D. * (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36293376)

Screw that. Pass the bar, and be assured of employment (real employment, as in a career instead of a job) for the rest of your life.

Even a CISSP means jack these days, all it means is that you get to duke it out among the other guys with the CISSP certs for the crumbs left over that the H-1Bs have not taken.

Other than a law degree, I do notice people with H-1B "certs" always get the plum positions in most companies.

Re:J. D. * (4, Insightful)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293490)

H1-B, cos US grads no engineers, anymore.

Re:Certications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36293172)

First of all you need to have solid foundation in almost all the areas of Comp.Sc. While you may get it from any one university, start taking one or two foundation courses from the Community Colleges to develop the skill sets and then go to some good Univ. (if you can find one, which is not admitting 200 students to make money) and also find a very good instructor( You don't get good friends and teachers unless you search for them) and find a mentor in the area of your interest. Once you have the foundation and you have done some really cool programs (open source would be a good starting place), then try for jobs. Your skills + solid knowledge + proven development skills will land you in good job. Just programming alone will not cut the ice.

Start your own cert organization. (3, Insightful)

ron_ivi (607351) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293306)

It's far more impressive to be the guy that certifies people than the guy who gets a cert.

And that way you can give yourself all the coolest sounding ones.

And if you can convince a few people to buy your cert, it'll not only make you money, but give your certification body even more prestige; because everyone who buys your cert will be hyping it as "really valuable" on /., etc.

Re:Vodka! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36293450)

It looks good on paper but unless you've personally created a respectable list of patents and have good reason to why you're seeking new employment, then you're SOOL here. It's a competitive world so accomplishments outside of taking silly tests is better to take. ISACA is definitely great to have, A+ is just so generic, and Microsoft certifications are overrated. Some places might not hire you because you have these certifications. There's no perfect combination, it really just helps if you know people, that's the trick to getting a job.

College (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36293008)

A degree. Seriously. If you're not willing (or able) to get a degree, what certs are valuable are going to depend heavily on what exactly they're looking for. People hiring for a network admin position are going to value things like Cisco certs much more than A+, while someone hiring for a generalist IT position in a small company might be the other way around.

You really end up with two non-degree options: try to specialize and get as many (and as advanced) certs as possible in a narrow area and then try to find a related job, or generalize yourself and try to keep getting certs in areas you haven't yet covered, and look for a generalist job. The specialist job will likely pay better, but it may be easier to find work as a generalist.

Certifications don't impress... (5, Insightful)

mikeroySoft (1659329) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293014)

Experience does. Build something, or contribute to an Open Source project.

Re:Certifications don't impress... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36293036)

Certifications don't impress, however they do get you past the HR filter so you get to speak to someone to whom your experience is relevant. No Certs, no interview, no chance to shine.

Re:Certifications don't impress... (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293140)

ding ding ding, we have a winner

HR filter: he's sunk (3, Interesting)

r00t (33219) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293212)

HR expects a Bachelor's degree even for the office help, admin assistant, secretary, etc. It's the new high school diploma, since high school diplomas have been rendered useless by local control and selfishness. (a town has an incentive to pass every student in the local school system)

His only hope is to avoid HR.

then buy a Life Experience Degree or push trade (2)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293378)

then buy a Life Experience Degree or push for a trade system for IT.

With HR is just box checking then any degree may work.

Re:Certifications don't impress... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36293332)

"No Certs, no interview, no chance to shine."

Umm... on what planet? Surely not this one.

I've worked at 3 very large tech firms in the 80,000+ employee range, and 2 small ones (10 to 200), and nobody has ever asked me for a "cert" - I don't have any. I don't even *know* anyone who has one. It's a total non-factor as far as I can tell.

I've also interviewed hundreds of prospective employees, and written reqs for several positions. The topic of "certs" never came up or made any appearance in the process.

What you write is BS. Certs are meaningless. They don't have any bearing on whether you get an interview that I have ever seen, and I've been around the industry for 22 years.

Re:Certifications don't impress... (2)

mlts (1038732) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293408)

Certs are meaningless to you, and your boss who has a clue.

They mean something to HR and upper management who don't see people's skills. All they see is that candidate "A" vying for a promotion has an alphabet soup of certifications, and candidate "B" doesn't. Guess who gets the promotion, even though candidate "A" may be a "paper MC-ITP?" You got it.

When I was looking for work after I graduated, even with a degree in hand and a large amount of experience in IT before going back to college, for a lot of places, this is how the interview went:

Interview: "Do you have a TS/SCI clearance, or a CISSP? No? Next in line please."

The pretty pieces of paper are PHB food. They are not for the people or their direct managers who actually are in the trenches. However, to get interviewed by the people who actually know their stuff, you have to get past the HR roadblocks, and that means having the pieces of paper (e. g. for a MS admin, a MS-ITP, a bachelor's degree, A+ cert, etc.)

Re:Certifications don't impress... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36293224)

Open source doesn't impress. Try working on real software.

Open source impresses if it's on a project we use (1)

ron_ivi (607351) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293250)

When I'm hiring, we often look for developers of the software we use.

Contributors to PostgreSQL, Solr, and Rails are especially welcome.

Perhaps if we used DB2 or SQLServer, developers who worked on those might be of interest. But not too much because even with their knowledge, it'd be pretty hard for them to license the source to make use of their knowledge; and we couldn't code-review their contributions anyway to see if they really know what they're talking about.

Some certs are worth it, like STCE (0)

slashpush2 (2216082) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293234)

STCE [] got me 3 well paid jobs in a row, the last one I work for now.

Re:Some certs are worth it, like STCE (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293274)

Hmm. Even I have one of those certs. Doesnt get me as many jobs, though.

Re:Some certs are worth it, like STCE (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293422)

Warning, parent link is NSFW

First thing I look for when hiring? (1)

jafo (11982) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293016)

The first thing I look for is contributions to open source software projects. But, we do open source related IT services. And it's rare to find.

CCNA not MCSE (2)

TunaPhish (81577) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293018)

Get a CCNA if you want to make money. MCSE is a total joke nowadays.

Re:CCNA not MCSE (2)

a_nonamiss (743253) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293078)

MCSE doesn't exist nowadays. I think it's too early to dismiss MCITP as a joke, as I haven't come across swathes of total morons who yet possess that certification. Not saying that isn't the ultimate endgame, though. (remember MCSE used to be an impressive certification, too.)

Re:CCNA not MCSE (1, Funny)

jo42 (227475) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293328)

MCSE: Microsoft Certified Solitaire Expert

Re:CCNA not MCSE (1)

munky99999 (781012) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293354)

Ive personally seen friends get MCITP without issue. Truck driver who failed A+ twice and net+ once... got mcitp 1st time for each cert and he shouldnt have gotten it tbh.

Best certs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36293020)

The people who look for certs are generally clueless, but unfortunately are in charge. The people who want to know what you know are the ones you want to work for. What kind of certs do you think the folks have who broke into Sony and PBS? Likely, none, but they probably know more about systems than the guy just hired with the cert. NO, do not become a hacker! That's not my message. I guess what I'm saying is try to find a place that sees YOU and not just your certification. You've been at this a while, so you know more than what a test can reveal and that's very valuable.

Does anyone check the validity of these claim? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36293022)

If you say on your resume you have XYZ certification - how does one go about verifying that fact? uni degrees etc I can see how they can be easily verified, but these other certs don't seem to have the same deal.

You could probably list a whole bunch of certifications that can't be verified other than your on the job abilities. In short, they're all meaningless.

Re:Does anyone check the validity of these claim? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36293058)

ISACA and (ISC)2 offer web interface, from where you can check against cert number ... if that helps weed out fakes

Re:Does anyone check the validity of these claim? (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293150)

You receive a #. They can check with the vendors to verify, just like a person can check a general contractors # with the state

Re:Does anyone check the validity of these claim? (1)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293298)

You then havn't been looking at the more prominent certs then. My Solaris 10 System Administrator certification has a website where I can request that Oracle (the certificating body) send verification of my certifications to someone (for jobs/contracts/interviews etc).

Re:Does anyone check the validity of these claim? (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293440)

What I do is ask for their cert number. Most places (RedHat, IBM, etc.) will have a cert checker on their website to verify the number they hand out.

If the person can't produce the number, or the number is registered in someone else's name, then it is time to get suspicious and nudging that person's resume towards the round file.

demonstrably duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36293024)

Idiot. Certifiable idiot, that is.

The STCE is the best. (-1, Troll)

slashpush (2216008) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293032)

Click here [] to learn more about it

Re:The STCE is the best. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36293128)

Well played, sir. It's been a while since I've been Goatse'd

Re:The STCE is the best. (1, Informative)

slashpush1 (2216034) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293144)

STCE = Slashdot Troll CErtification. I just passed through 8000 of victims (and that is just on last link I have beeing using for about 2~3 months. I have around 2000 victims on older links).

Re:The STCE is the best. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36293334)

Anyone using a URL shortener outside of a twitter feed is either an idiot or a troll.

Your Network is More Important than Your Certifica (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36293040)

Your personal network is way more powerful. Knowing what you're doing is a big help also

Certification are a waste of money (1)

halo_2_rocks (805685) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293042)

As stated in prior conversations, certifications are meaningless in IT. They don't impress anyone. It is a matter of what you have actually done or not done. Most employers will have you do various things to make sure you know your stuff (those that don't might be impressed by certs, but they are screwed up companies) before they hire you. I wouldn't waste your time or money on them. It is more important to learn your craft and get experience.

Re:Certification are a waste of money (1)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293204)

HR and the suits like pieces of paper that say you know stuff. Degrees and certifications may not be good indicators of competence, but having CCNA MCSA MBA IBC TLDR after your name impresses the non-IT people who actually fund your paycheck.

Re:Certification are a waste of money (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293248)

As stated in prior conversations, certifications are meaningless in IT. They don't impress anyone. It is a matter of what you have actually done or not done. Most employers will have you do various things to make sure you know your stuff (those that don't might be impressed by certs, but they are screwed up companies) before they hire you. I wouldn't waste your time or money on them. It is more important to learn your craft and get experience.

If this theory of yours held as true as you would like it to be, then IT Certifications, much like a undergraduate degree, would be struggling to even survive.

I'm certainly not disagreeing that experience in our field is priceless. That being said, walk up to any IT person with a shitload of cert acronyms/vendor titles behind his or her name. I promise you they didn't waste the time and money on all those certs simply for the fun of it.

Re:Certification are a waste of money (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36293304)

I don't agree.

If you have a certification in a technology important to your employer, Cisco, Extreme, Juniper, etc, your employer can benefit in their relationship with that vendor. We buy, sell and maintain Cisco, Extreme, AdTran, SonicWall, Palo Alto and other gear as well as various software platforms. Getting certified employees on the payroll is a necessary step in forging a relationship with many vendors. It also demonstrates curiosity in a given technology. If all your employee does is learn the minimum required to perform the basic functions of his job, then he may not be suitable in a changing environment. It all depends on the goals of the employer.

Try Experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36293046)

No really. Put your experience on your resume. That's the only thing that counts once you've worked in industry for a little bit. If you've been in IT for several years, then you should be good at what you do. What? You suck at what you do? Oh well... then you should get some certifications.

Someone with several years of experience wouldn't ask this question.

Double D Certified (3, Funny)

Rivalz (1431453) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293050)

My girlfriend is Double D cert' and I just pay her to sit at home.
She doesn't even have a college education, I would be amazed if she even has a GED.
Soon as I find out where she got the DD's I'll let you know.

Re:Double D Certified (1, Funny)

muphin (842524) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293136)

she got it from her previous boyfriend.

Re:Double D Certified (1)

SlashdotWanker (1476819) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293168)

My girlfriend is Double D cert' and I just pay her to sit at home. She doesn't even have a college education, I would be amazed if she even has a GED. Soon as I find out where she got the DD's I'll let you know.

Girlfriend? I need to revoke your geek cred now.

Re:Double D Certified (1)

JackpotMonkey (703880) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293214)

I believe they originated in Dallas, contact a woman named Debbie for details....

Re:Double D Certified (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36293268)

Doctor Nick's Inflat-o-porium.

Learn to check the labels.

Obligatory dilbert comic (2, Funny)

mhh91 (1784516) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293056)

Re:Obligatory dilbert comic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36293130)

Amazing. Tells you precisely, the demarcation between, theory and practicals ! :)

Whatever you can (2)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293070)

Cert what you know. Whatever you do, get a cert in it. Don't be afraid to get a "vendor specific" cert. After all, CCIE is nothing more than just a vendor specific cert. Since you don't have a degree, having some certs to throw around help people believe in your abilities, even if the cert doesn't do anything other than reflect knowledge and skills you already have.

Choose Wisely and Be Happy. (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293076)

I could tell you all kinds of six-figure positions get shot out of something like a CISSP certification, but if you absolutely despise doing work in the Security field, then I must advise against it.

Even in IT, no matter what you choose to do, always remember to look for something that gives you some form of reward or personal satisfaction beyond the monetary factor.

Took me quite a few years to finally realize that personal satisfaction and overall happiness are much more important, not only to balance out work and life, but also to enable me to perform my job to the best of my ability.

The STCE is the best (-1, Troll)

slashpush1 (2216034) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293082)

I have the STCE [] and it go me 3 jobs. Notr easy to get though

who certifies the certifiers? (1)

smoothnorman (1670542) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293084)

Around my (admittedly small-er) shop we don't count certification for anything. If we want a programmer we ask for an example code and talk with the applicant. If we want a web page developer we ask for an example web-page and talk with the applicant. The key begin: "we talk with the applicant". After a dozen years of doing this i can assure you there is *no* correlation between who we hired and whether they were "certified" by any private interest. I'm sure this isn't true for larger companies (YMMV etc), but if i were you, i'd get the foundations from a college degree, develop a "portfolio" on your own, and save your certification money.

Re:who certifies the certifiers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36293138)

While I agree, but the certs may be the only reason you were ever considered for the position (by recruiters, if there are several applicants) ...

Re:who certifies the certifiers? (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293170)

The question stands: If a cert or a degree doesn't matter for who you hire, how do you filter your resumes to know who to interview? That's where both work. They don't get you a job, they get you an interview.

Re:who certifies the certifiers? (3, Interesting)

YttriumOxide (837412) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293330)

The question stands: If a cert or a degree doesn't matter for who you hire, how do you filter your resumes to know who to interview? That's where both work. They don't get you a job, they get you an interview.

Last time we were hiring for a programmer (large international company), we had so few applicants that it simply wasn't worth it for HR to "filter" them in any way before handing them on to me. I set up interviews for each applicant and then asked them a bunch of questions. At no point did their certifications come in to question.

And no, I didn't ask the typical "university knowledge" questions such as "which of these is likely to be the best sorting method for this set of data?" and other such bollocks; instead my questions were things more relevant to real world programming like, "Right, you've just written some really cruddy code as a proof-of-concept and Marketing want to start selling it next week as a real product, what do we do?" and "How long do you think it'd take you to clone the Windows Calculator in a language and environment of your choice?".

To note, when we hire a programmer, we don't just look for drones that can churn out code exactly to a perfectly written spec written by someone that probably could've done the code themselves; instead we look for someone that can interpret badly written fuzzy marketing speak and then use creativity and imagination to meet what Marketing have asked for in the most elegant, flexible and maintainable way. So far, my little team is doing a great job and I'm pretty proud of them.

Final side note: Yes, I say "my team" and I am indeed in charge there, but I'm a developer myself - not a manager... we have a manager (that sits in another office several hundred KM away) to look after paperwork, budgets and so on - I just look after "who's doing what" and passing the paperwork over to the manager (who tends to just approve anything I send his way, which I'm also very thankful for).

Re:who certifies the certifiers? (1)

IICV (652597) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293458)

"How long do you think it'd take you to clone the Windows Calculator in a language and environment of your choice?".

About ten seconds, unless you want the source code :)

Re:who certifies the certifiers? (1)

smoothnorman (1670542) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293344)

the degree matters. the application material matters. the stated experience matters. OCP CCNA CCDP CCENT CCSP ACTC... [] doesn't matter so much (or in one case i know of actually weighed negatively)

Re:who certifies the certifiers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36293432)

> They don't get you a job, they get you an interview.

No, they don't. I've written a number of job reqs, and certs have never even made an appearance. We don't care. In fact, we don't even really care about your educational background, other than that it's one way of many to obtain useful knowledge. You could be a high school dropout, and that's fine if you managed to learn on your own. We care what you know, not how you know it.

I've held multiple development positions working on everything from compilers for embedded devices to ring-0 drivers to network stacks to UI toolkits, and nobody has ever given a crap whether I have a cert. It's never even come up. Not once.

They don't matter in the industry. They're a waste of time and effort, unless you're just after some geek-squad job at Best Buy. But in the real world? No. Don't bother. Learn useful theory - stuff that'll apply to any job. Understand time complexities, hardware microarchitecture, whatever. Nobody cares *how* you know - only *that* you know.

Work on open source projects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36293086)

Have patches to show for it. Don't waste your time and money on useless certs that interviewers will overlook if they're feeling kindly about and look down on if they're not.

Depends on who is hiring (3, Informative)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293100)

Some people look for experience and hands-on expertise and HR people look for words in a search list. I don't think I have ever been hired easily by going through HR filters but begged to work for companies who know what my resume actually means. Techs know other techs. And, frankly, I am equally skeptical of people who go out chasing every certification they can until their resume looks like a NASCAR racer.

Actually, my wide range of experience leads people to ask me the same question(s) asked of people with a multitude of certs: "do you REALLY know all that stuff?" My answer is "I've been doing this a very long time and I don't put anything down there I can't prove. There's still LOTS I don't know, but I doubt there's much I can't pick up in a very short time." And that's the reality of it. Can you do it all? Is it "easy" for you? If it's not easy for you, then specialize and at least get really good in your speciality. But don't just go getting some labels if it's not in your nature to actually be able to do what you claim -- if you're not truly inclined in that area, you're not just disappointing your employer, you're harming the whole of IT out here by lowering everyone's expectations.

Heh... someone above says "degree... seriously... degree!" Really? If you want to get into management, yes... get a degree... a BUSINESS DEGREE. Getting a degree in computer science or programming is... uh... a huge waste of time and money. I have been through some of that and I know what people come out of those mills. They can teach and test a lot of things, but they never seem to be able to insert that "spark" every good programmer has. That spark comes from somewhere else. And if we are talking about a degree in anything else computer and networking related? Take courses in various technologies, not a whole degree. Degrees in IT are useless.

Re:Depends on who is hiring (1)

TooTechy (191509) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293302)

That could largely depend on where the degree came from and what it was. Your experience clearly differs from mine. Where I come from a engineering degree.

Re:Depends on who is hiring (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293382)

Degrees in IT are useless.

Unless you actually want to get hired or promoted. You may get lucky or persevere but you won't do as well as someone else with a degree (who put in as much effort).

Cisco and Microsoft (1)

drmacinyasha (1717962) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293120)

Cisco, Microsoft, and even Red Hat certs are worth getting if you're heading towards sysadmin or networking jobs. I'm looking to get my A+, Network+, CCNA, CCNP, and eventually CCIE, in that order. Probably get a Microsoft cert somewhere along the lines. "If you're in the networking field, and you've got a CCIE, nothing else matters. Your chances of getting the job triple, at least, the second the employer sees that on your resume," is what I've been hearing from every senior network tech I've talked to in the past few years.

Don't forget VMWare and Citrix (1)

eharvill (991859) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293184)

Or any experience with some sort of virtualization technology (desktop, server, cloud), regardless of vendor.

On a side note, why would you bother with an A+ or Network+ and just not focus on getting your NA and then the others?

Re:Cisco and Microsoft (1)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293194)

+1 on CCIE. For networking it's still the premier certification and is respected by Cisco's competitors in the networking space. Takes a lot of time and money to obtain, though.

Re:Cisco and Microsoft (1) (1258326) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293264)

Microsoft will probably be out of business before you finished your 4 year. Go with something different than just Cisco and M$. Shoot see if you can't get a Linux "General/Non-Distribution-specific" and a Distribution-specific cert.

Re:Cisco and Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36293372)

Agree with the other posters - forget A+ and Network+. I just think "helpdesk monkey" when I see those. Go straight to CCNA, and move quickly to CCNP.

What certification is the best? PAH. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36293152)

They're all barely worth the paper they're printed on. I have more than 15 different certifications to my name, gotten at a time a few years ago when I was foolish enough to think they meant a damn. They don't. Trust me. I've managed to make what almost anybody in IT save CIOs would say is good money, have as much job security as anyone ever can, the respect of my peers and a lot of influence on how things are done in the shop. My certifications have played zero role in that. Also, I regularly interview developers and I can tell you that I barely even SEE if you have certifications.

The ONLY time a certification MIGHT mean something in my opinion is if you're talking about an entry-level position. Then, seeing that someone had the motiviation to go get the cert might mean something good. Other than that, don't both would be my advice.

As others have said, actually DOING stuff and being able to demonstrate what you bring to the table is what matters. Yes, it's true, we have the same catch-22 as any other field: you need experience before you can get experience. But, in our field, there is a very easy solution to this problem: open-source. If you're trying to break in, don't bother getting certs... instead, spend that time contributing to an OSS project, and maybe even starting one yourself. That sort of experience will sell and you'll get your foot in the door, much more so than if you come in with a bunch of useless acronyms after your name.

If you are investing time in certs.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36293158)

...why not get a degree?

Get it in something computer science / IT related if you want. Or study something that holds another interest for you. A degree means you can learn. A cert means you studied for a specific test. There's a big difference.

Besides, you don't want to be in PC repair and troubleshooting for the rest of your life, do you?

OSS certificate (1)

rzei (622725) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293180)

It's received through participating in open source project(s). A few things look as good as this; just link to your github or the most notorious bugs you've squashed from your resume and you'll be noticed. Plus you might even make good friends with like minded people and or get a call to work for a company developing a solution on top of your favourite open source project!

Re:OSS certificate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36293246)

how would one go about getting an OSS certificate any size projects in particular? any group in particular?

Ignore everyone else (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36293186)

Get a degree.

Best Certificate Evar! (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293188)

SSL -- All others are pointless. They prove nothing.

Certified Slashdot contributor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36293190)

I've seen a few contributors that ought to be certified :-)

The School of Hard Knocks (1)

JackpotMonkey (703880) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293196)

A Cert in Common Sense will mean more to a good employer than a fancy piece of paper stating you are good at taking a test, of course demonstrating that you have common sense and experience in the field in which they need you will greatly depend on your references, there was a time that an A+ cert would get you in the door to almost anywhere with a good salary, but post .com tech industry there are fewer and fewer certs that aren't already saturated in the job pool, but a lot of those people have little to no real experience. Cisco certs are always good to have, but rightly difficult to obtain the higher tier you are shooting for, IIRC dell has a program where you can get help in getting certs that will help expand your knowledge base as long as they can utilize the skill set you wish to learn.

Hide them! Admit nothing! (1)

drussell (132373) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293220)

I won't hire anyone who puts things like "certifications" on their resume. I want to know what you REALLY know and what you've REALLY done. If the shop you're thinking of working for is actually looking for certification, you probably don't want to work there. (Or conversely, perhaps you're not the kind of employee our kind of shop is looking for. :) )

Re:Hide them! Admit nothing! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36293326)

So you are saying that certifications are actually bad thing? ... You won't hire anyone that has certifications, is it so that since you do not have any (assuming, since so negative act against certifications), you are afraid that someone (with real reasons to get the certifications) might be better than you?

Yes, I agree, certifications alone means nothing, but to have something to proof that those certifications are 'real' and just proves that the person applying has all needed knowledge, you still ditch them?

Re:Hide them! Admit nothing! (4, Informative)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293384)

You are filtering out good people.

I put them on my resume. Mainly because it wont hurt and it keeps HR and the headhunters happy. Does that mean I am a jackass that doesn't know anything because I got them, regardless if I owned my own I.T. business as a contractor? That is like saying you do not need a computer science degree to write simple scripting code, therefore every Unix admin who has a CS degree must somehow be incompetent.

Most competent I.T. folks put them on their resume. If they do not then I assume they do not love their job or their previously employer did not give them the tools they needed to succeed. I view it as incompetence. Not because they need that MCSE or CISCO cert but because they agreed that it was not needed and ok to be under certified or the candidate refuses to better themselves.

You can learn a lot with certain certifications that you never know about. Windows 2008 for example has many new features that I had no clue about, explained by a MCSE trainer. It can help if you are already competent.

Re:Hide them! Admit nothing! (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293474)

I won't hire anyone who puts things like "certifications" on their resume

With arbitrary filtering rules such as that you have a bright future in HR.

I only read the title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36293236)

It really depends what you're going to use it for, and if you want to shell out the money for a fancy one from Verisign or the likes.


Certificate qualifications can be worth anything (3, Informative)

TooTechy (191509) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293266)

The issue with certifications from IT companies is that there are very few standards which regulate them. Essentially, all they mean is that you turned up and probably passed a test. If you have not used this knowledge since then the certificate is as good a useless. If you have that degree from a reputable school then that already speaks to your ability. Now you have to be convincing of the specific skills.

Generalizations are impossible. There are so many areas of IT which require skills that you will never acquire in a classroom that the only way to see if a candidate is worth their salt is an interview. Here we come to your point of actually reaching the interview stage. The US is a country which largely works on a "who you know" basis. Networking is very important here. This differs in other countries. As someone who regularly reviews resumes for candidates I am shocked by the poor quality of the literacy in the resume and also the incorrect use of technical names, abbreviations and acronyms (and people who have no idea what this last word actually means). You can judge a great deal about the candidate from their resume. Do not try to use terms with which you are not 100% familiar. It is incredible the number of resumes from candidates who will incorrectly use terms because they are not proficient and try to over fill the skill section.

Hopefully, if you are looking to move to an organization worth moving to, they will have good staff at the interview. If the position is looking for a particular proficiency and you don't have it then of course you are at a disadvantage. But an employer will consider paying less for someone who is bright, hard working and thinks the right way.

Specific skill sets can be easily acquired in most circumstances. General skills can take a lifetime to acquire.

Have your resume edited by someone else. Please. Then find someone who can deliver it to the right person. This is your best chance of getting an interview.

Re:Certificate qualifications can be worth anythin (2)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293420)

So can we discount college degrees too? Sure you do not learn real world experience, but you do learn the theory and basics about a profession and it shows dedication to the employer.

MCSE' tests are hard and those who say they are easy never took them. They are adaptive, which means as soon as you make a wrong answer it keeps asking you things related to the last question. I am not saying you can walk right in and work. But, if you passed all the MCSE and CISCO exams you can tell the new employee you need x.y, and z done and they will probably know what you are talking about and can use some tools to do the job. Maybe not perfect, but enough to start an entry level career.

The question is where do you start? YOu need experience somewhere and volunteering at GeekSquad looks pretty embarasing on a resume.

Only two things matter (1)

SlithyMagister (822218) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293286)

Attitude and effort.
If you have both, you can learn anything we need you to know.

If you want me to hire you, then you will be asked to do the following:
1. Demonstrate effort. Any relevant cert will do, a body of completed work will help -- even home projects etc.
2. Demonstrate attitude. Be on time for your interview, be interested and even excited about working for us. Fake this convincingly if you must, but if you do, you'll be expected to fake it continuously for the duration of your probationary period. (not as easy as it sounds).
3. End the recession so I have money to hire you.

The Need of Certifications (1)

EnvyRAM (586140) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293296)

Certifications are only important if you want to claim you have knowledge of an area but have absolutely no other way of showing that you know it.

If you do have the experience, you give good examples of what you have done which require that knowledge. Simply listing a certification equates to, "Though I haven't done anything to show it, if I was given that task, there is a CHANCE that I could accomplish it." Obviously if you're coming in with no experience, some indication that you can handle the job is helpful. However, going out of your way to get additional hands-on experience will make the potential employer more comfortable than just saying if you had done so, you would have been successful.

Certifications are a great way to branch out (2)

MillerHighLife21 (876240) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293300)

If you're a programmer, programming language certifications mean very little. After all, you're a programmer. IF however, you don't always want to be a programmer and want to find a way to parlay yourself into a more management related position then something like a Project Management certification (PMP) could do quiet well. Other certs that show a certain level of expertise or specialty can be effective too, but only if you're trying to branch out. Getting certified in something like Backtrack for security and penetration testing can go a long way towards making you a more well rounded option.

Likewise, if you've worked your way into programming but don't have a degree, the certifications can go a long way towards adding credibility when resumes are being sifted through.

If you get certifications for something you already do or should very naturally pick up in your normal course of employment though, it's not going to stand out that much. If you've been a java programmer for 10 years and have every java certification under the Sun (see what I did there?) it's not going to be much different on paper than just saying you've been a java programmer for 10 years. You have 10 years of java programming experience and Backtrack or PMP certification though...all of a sudden you stand out a little more.

Similarly, if you have spent most of your career as a Python programmer and then got certified for Perl, Ruby, and PHP...not that big of a deal. You get a major Java or .NET certification though...that's fairly different environment and the certification goes a long way towards validating your ability in that area especially if you haven't previously had a job yet to back it up. It's help to transition from one to another because, unless somebody is desperate to hire "a programmer" if you don't have the job experience with the language you telling them how quickly "you can pick it up" isn't going to do you any good.

Nobody wants to pay you while you learn to do what they hired you to do, only to see you start demanding raises as soon as you get good at it (not that that ever happens...just sayin).

Re:Certifications are a great way to branch out (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293446)

It seems this story there is a debate here among those who think certifications might help if you have experience vs certifications mean you are incompetent and it will hurt your job chances.

My brother is a director at FedEX and he looks down on PMP certifications as the employees he wants to fire typically take the exams and study for them. They know they are in trouble and it is a way to cover something up. To me I would love to take the Project Management Certification so I can learn but I guess too many frown upon that as well.

I am confused as I wonder myself whether to even mention my certifications on my resume. I have them but I wonder if it makes me look bad?

Experiment in process (1)

atari2600a (1892574) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293322)

Toss the certs & the 'job' out the door, start your own business. Ask me again in 2 years & I'll let you know if it works.

Re:Experiment in process (1)

MillerHighLife21 (876240) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293456)

It's the best learning experience you'll ever have, even if it doesn't work out. Good luck!

Used to be a "certs is useless" guy (1)

shaffer.william (2216108) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293340)

I'll never forget a temp job I got 5 or 6 years ago. I had maybe 6 mos experience and a 2 year CCNA course on my resume (I had not completed CCNA at that point) Got a call from a HR lady who really needed people, like, right now for a temp job in DC. She was reluctant though because she said she wasn't sure that I had enough experience to do the job. (luckily I'm a decent talker, and they really needed people.) The job was to do, and I'm not exagerating, unpack Dell monitors and hook them into the power supply / PC. No checking the computer, new monitor, blue port, move on. I can't complain, the job paid good and it wasn't really hard work. I was one of those "certs are useless" people until that day.

wow that is some F* HR do they want a EE for basic (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293424)

wow that is some F* HR do they want a EE for basic electrical work that just trun out to be running e-net cable?

Uh, first things first (3, Insightful)

deblau (68023) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293352)

What kind of job do you want?

Who do you want to work for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36293370)

Do you really want to work for someone who hires based on certificates?
A certificate lets an employer know what you once knew - perhaps only for a couple of hours. A degree not only tells an employer something about what you once learned but the type of degree, results and institution (school) also tells them about how you learn and how you think. That is why a degree can be beneficial.

As someone who has sat on both sides of the interview panel, the good interviewers will test the candidate's claimed credentials. It becomes clear pretty quickly as to who knows there stuff and who doesn't.

Just make sure you know your stuff as presented on your resume. If you're overlooked because you don't have a certificate, you didn't want to work there.

Ahh to be young again.. (1)

SuperCharlie (1068072) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293396)

What will impress potential employers and be most likely to help land a decent job for someone who doesn't have a degree, but knows how to troubleshoot and can do a bit of programming if needed?"

I remember this place many years ago.. The choice you have now is which direction to go that will make you it money or is it self fulfillment.. it is not what certs to get my friend..good luck.

Expert-level certs of any large vendor... (1)

Zarhan (415465) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293418)

...if you are working for consultancy or reseller, which works as a partner. Typically, as the number of certified people a company has, the higher their partner status goes and that means, if nothing else, discounts => employer gets a better margin on the stuff they resell.

I have a CCIE, and if I go to a Cisco shop it pretty much means "hire me, and even if I don't do anything but stare at the wall all day you are still going to get more money out of this deal (provided you sell at least $X worth of hardware annually)". Same thing can be adapted to other high-level certs out there.

However, be careful. I've known some people who take that CCIE to mean that I don't know a damn thing on how to operate Juniper, HP, Enterasys or Siemens networking gear since I'm "specialized" in Cisco and apparently nothing else fits in my head. This goes double for any of the lower certs. So when you are portraying yourself to a potential employer be sure to somehow convey that you have generic knowledge of the subject matter as well.

ITIL for Operations and Management (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36293452)

If you want to get into IT management (operations management) then an ITIL qualification will be a big asset on your resume. I would recommend doing the ITIL v3 Foundations and then pick a couple of the intermediate-level capability courses depending on where your interests lie.

"Professionalizing" IT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36293462)

When management says they want to professionalize their IT services, they mean they require education, experiance AND certifications. This is the current trend in IT. For entry level positions, A+/Net+/Security+ is what you should have on your resume. For networking positions, the CCNA/CCNP Cisco track is the way to go. CCNA/CCDP if you want to be in network design. CCSP for security (CCISP from ISC also). Any other Cisco is gravy. For field techs, OS specialists, etc., MCSE will get you a leg up. At the very least take ONE MS test to get your MCSP. If you have a specialty you are aiming for, of course, go for any certs in that area. IT Project management is getting huge, so Project+ is good for entry level. PMAS, PMP, CAPM are the biggies.

A few things to take away from this:
1. I am talking about the certs hiring authorities look for; what is best for your career, not your professional development.
2. From looking above you can see that specialization is in. Focus on what you want, but keep your education broad for options.
3. Certs are not "cake" or "worthless". They're just generic compared to specific skills and experience you have.
4. Profit!

Dont bother (1)

munky99999 (781012) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293464)

Dont bother with certifications. Usually I would have suggested getting comptia A+ Net+ Linux+ sort of certifications. Except Comptia ended the lifetime certifications and now limit it them to 5 years. Which makes it completely worthless to get.

Which pretty much leaves only the elite certifications that like 500 people in the world have kind of thing. CSSIP, CCIE, and a couple others.

Instead experience and know-how is far better. If you are a programmer... program something that's public. If you're a cracker... get a couple 0days. If you are a network admin... go build a bunch of vms for different servers, openldap, postfix, etc etc. Put that stuff on your resume.

If you knew what you were doing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36293472)

you wouldn't have to ask.

Get a degree (5, Informative)

Wolfling1 (1808594) | more than 3 years ago | (#36293502)

Sorry if that's bad news. A degree is the most respected qualification out there. When I was going through uni, I scoffed at the mundane nature of the material they were teaching me. Joked about how I could get better value using it as toilet paper. 10 years later, it hit me like a brick. I was building 3rd normal form databases. Referential Integrity was a term I understood. I could build components with Lazy Evaluation, and I knew why I was doing it.

Getting a degree also tells prospective employers that you're a finisher. You don't just start stuff and bail when it gets scary. You don't give up on a project because parts of it are hard or unpleasant. I know some employers who don't care what degree you've got, as long as you've got one.

If you want an employer's respect, there is no quick and easy way to win it. You have to do the really hard stuff to prove that you can do the really hard stuff.

Good luck.
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