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What's the Point of IT Certifications?

Cliff posted more than 8 years ago | from the that-all-important-piece-of-paper dept.

Businesses 1100

erica_ann asks: "Fact: You can have the knowledge without having to pay to be Certified when it comes to computers. Another fact: Just because you have the certification does not mean you actually know the material as well as someone who is not certified. You might just be good at taking tests. So what is the point of getting IT Certifications? To have a piece of paper?""I have had this conversation with many friends and co workers. One thing I like out of all the conversations is getting more than just one point of view. I know my standpoint on it. I rambled on it for quite a while. But, what I would like to ask of everyone on Slashdot, is what is your opinion? Do you have certifications? Was it worth getting certified? How do employers, employees and management feel about them? Do you pay for them? Does the company pay for them? Is it worth being certified if you do not get a pay raise for it? What certifications bring more than others? Are specialized more employable than general certifications?

I think many people would benefit from hearing more than one side of the controversy. Maybe it will encourage more employers to reward for certifications. Maybe it will help the next person attain the career he or she wants. Is there such thing as being TOO certified for a job?

Or is the whole idea of getting alphabet soup behind your name just certifiably insane?"

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What would the little kid say? (5, Funny)

nokilli (759129) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429005)

Do not try to understand the point -- that's impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth.

What truth?

There is no point.
You didn't know. [tinyurl.com]

Re:What would the little kid say? (5, Funny)

HTTP Error 403 403.9 (628865) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429134)

How about IT certification is an attempt to create a barrier to entry in order to create scarcity and subsequently higher wages and professional prestige (i.e. chicks).

Re:What would the little kid say? (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429188)

Your point is valid, but we have to expand it a little further.

The point is that certification has become dissociated from the actual abilities, and hence, the evaluation becomes useless.

I guess that a real evaluation could only come with actual work experience. An interesting idea would be to replace *one* single certification with many certifications on desired areas of knowledge - i.e. SQL, .NET, Linux administration, etc.

IT has become too broad to be evaluated in a single test.

Re:What would the little kid say? (1)

nite_warrior (151737) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429196)

"No. No point. Old men like me don't bother with making points. There's no point. "
  --- Councillor Harmann, the Matrix Reloaded

FT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13429007)

First Test!

Oh, wait...

There is no point unless... (-1, Troll)

YankeeInExile (577704) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429014)

There is no point in getting certifications for exactly the two reasons you pointed out in the question, unless you want to get a job for some dimwitted PHB who cannot tell the difference between the cluefull and the clueless.

That is its own reward.

I have never gotten any certification, nor has any employer seriously asked me for one. The one time I was asked, in passing, I replied, No employer is willing to pay me to get a certification in something I already know, and I am disinclined to work for an employer who needs validation from some group of nobodies to hire me. It is worth noting at this point, that I did get the job.

Finally, as a person in a hiring position, I do not consider them at all, and am definitely prejudiced against someone who puts them on their resume.

Oh, one more thing ... it is a good way to earn money, if you set up Smilin' Erica's Certification Company.

Re:There is no point unless... (2, Informative)

cprice (143407) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429072)

Most IT managers are dimwitted when it comes to qualifications. Keep in mind that HR recruiters, who are usually even more retarded than IT managers, screen resumes before the IT manager sees them. Certs are a good way to back up what your resume says and get yourself into the 'to be interviewed' pile.

I just left a site where the guy with the most certs was probably the worst technical person in a team of ~10. I wouldnt trust him to swap tapes in the library, nevermind have root...

Re:There is no point unless... (-1, Troll)

YankeeInExile (577704) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429131)

I call shenanigans.

HR does not write the screening requirements for a job posting, I do. And I can guarantee you that I have never put "A Random certificate from a body that has no credibility" as a requirement, so that shoots your to be interviewed pile argument all to hell. Especially since step two of the screening process is discard all resumes with the letters MCSE on them

Re:There is no point unless... (5, Informative)

VoidWraith (797276) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429120)

I agree about the last statement. As part of a class I was taking in high school, we took the A+ certification, and CompTIA (the company behind it) screwed up my name, and treated me like NStar (an abysmal power company) does when I tried to fix it: poorly written demands for additional verification that I couldn't provide ("please fax a copy of your driver's license" but I had neither a driver's license nor a fax machine) and not even sending me the certification with the right name on it (that would cost me another $15, so I didn't bother).

Now, for a high school student, I think that the certification makes sense, because most people will just disregard any teenager as uneducated and inexperienced. The inexperience is, of course, still an issue, but with a certification, a teenager can prove that he's actually got the know-how to do the job, and there's a lot less of a risk in hiring him.

Re:There is no point unless... (5, Insightful)

ellem (147712) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429123)

I do not consider them at all, and am definitely prejudiced against someone who puts them on their resume.

Let's forget for a a minute that that is illegal.

This is a stupid way to think. Having a Cert doesn't make a candidate any worse than having a Cert makes them good.

A Cert, if nothing else, tells you the person WANTS to be in IT.

Re:There is no point unless... (2, Insightful)

rovingeyes (575063) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429142)

I have never gotten any certification, nor has any employer seriously asked me for one It doesn't matter if you have certifications when you can legitimately claim that you have worked >5 years in that particular field. But in case of a candidate who is entry level or has less than 4 yrs of experience these certifications are a way to get you the interview. There are many young graduates who are probably equally qualified for that position. Those certifications are the ones which get you noticed. That was at least my experience.

Re:There is no point unless... (3, Insightful)

Telent (567982) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429168)

Finally, as a person in a hiring position, I do not consider them at all, and am definitely prejudiced against someone who puts them on their resume.

See, this is one comment I've never really understood. Yes, there are lots of clueless certification monkeys out there. No, in most cases, certifications say absolutely nothing useful. But prejudice against those who may have gotten them for other reasons?

For instance, I am a MCP. I'm not particularly proud of it, being a Unix person, but work paid for it. Yeah, it's a Windows job; I'm living in a place with a weak Unix market and can't move for a couple years, and I choose to be able to pay rent. But I am a MCP, and I do put that on my resume... at the bottom, under "certifications/awards/professional organizations", in the same place I put my ACM membership and my black belt.

So why would that matter to you? Seriously. I'm curious.

Interviews (3, Insightful)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429015)

The point of certs is to put them on your resume, which gets you interviews.

That's all, really.


I know this (1)

justforaday (560408) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429019)

Oh, I know the answer to this one! To impress HR and the PHBs.

*sigh* (1)

BlackCobra43 (596714) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429137)

It's nice to know any query about the business world can now be answered in one or two sentences peppered with marketing buzzwords and/or abbreviations. I don't blame you - it's a generalized problem of oversimplification stemming from the proactive approach of CEOs and DHRs everywhere.

DUH! (4, Informative)

ellem (147712) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429020)

To get past the HR Trolls!

The only way to pass them is to point shiny Certifications into their beedy little eyes!

depends on expereince (4, Interesting)

Brigadier (12956) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429022)

I used to be one of those few IT guys who had a completely unrelated degree (architecture). However I somehow managed to procure enough experience that I really didn't need all the certificates (MSCE A+ etc.) I also know of many others in the same boat. However if your lacking experience then certification is a good way to get people to take a chance on you.

Employment! (1)

redelm (54142) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429024)

Many employers look for certification as a way of reducing the field of applicants and reducing their search costs. It is far from prefect, but very commonly used.

certifications (1)

Sosetta (702368) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429026)

... are definitely worthwhile. You're not getting them to get a job working for someone who knows your job better than you. You're getting them so that someone who has NO IDEA how to do your job can hire you. There are lots and lots and lots and lots of such people in the world, and they have lots of money with which to pay you.

Unfortunately... (1)

jchawk (127686) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429027)

For the same reasons you have to go to college to get that stupid piece of paper.

Re:Unfortunately... (1)

DaHat (247651) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429170)

From the looks of it, you are the first to hit the key point.

On a related note, we must not forget about a high school diploma that many seem to like and see as important.

The Point is Simple (5, Insightful)

dsginter (104154) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429029)

The point of a cert is the same as a degree - it demonstrates to a complete stranger that one posesses a certain skillset and dedication. Certainly, we all know that genious who is a high school or college dropout but if you hadn't known this person for longer than a few minutes, just how do you go about figuring out if they have certain qualifications?

Yes - it is possible to do some quick testing in some cases. In other cases, certs are the only tool.

Re:The Point is Simple (1)

guaigean (867316) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429128)

The difference between college and certs, however, are that college degrees are generally accredited (at least in the US), and you have a basic level of requirements among them. Any random schmuck can setup a website and certify people, and start pumping out "qualified" personnel.

Re:The Point is Simple (1)

over_exposed (623791) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429180)

Certainly, we all know that genious who is a high school or college dropout

Please... PLEASE tell me you misspelled "genius" on purpose...

Re:The Point is Simple (4, Informative)

danheskett (178529) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429201)

The people who usually bitch about certifications are the ones who have met a person who is an MSCE and is an idiot. They think: "this guy doesn't even know X, how can he be an MSCE? That MSCE thing is a joke!" Usually people have this attitude because they have no idea what a certain certificationa actually certifies. Really, before you bitch, find out what tests the person had to pass. Chances are you imputing more value to the certification than is deserved! I used to get a lot of crap from a certain subset of "know it alls" when they learned that I am MCDBA certified (Microsoft Certified Database Administrator). They just assumed based on the name that it says I can write a few SQL queries and create a few tables. A really common bitch I heard was "it's not anything I don't know from writing my own CMS with PHP and MYSQL". A very typical, but wrong, view. The certification tells my boss that I have a specific subset of database administration knowledge. The implication is that the non-certified employees "could just learn it if they need it", which is probably true to a degree. The point is, for the specific job, it required performance tuning a huge database running against a clustered SQL Server backend. "Learning on the job" was not acceptable risk for management.

No certifications here! (1)

ElPresidente1972 (95949) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429031)

I don't believe in certifications. I've never needed them, and I've met too many paper MCSE's. My university degree is more than enough to get the point across, and only one time in my life have I ever been denied a job for not being an MCSE.

CISSP ?? (1)

Artie_Effim (700781) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429034)

SO, I have been thinking about this for a while. I work in the Government contract IA and IS and there are a lot of highly paid people here with CISSPs and other certs who know a lot less than I do. SO, what is the point? It seems that the cert still holds a lot of weight around here, regardless of the knowledge to back it up. 2c

A Few Thoughts: (5, Interesting)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429037)

Fact: You can have the knowledge without having to pay to be Certified when it comes to computers.

This was exactly my situation before I learned (to my chagrin) that most employers simply won't take you seriously unless you throw the alphabet soup at them.

Another fact: Just because you have the certification does not mean you actually know the material as well as someone who is not certified.

Again, something I'm uncomfortably familiar with, having to work with more than one 'paper MCSE' in the past...

So what is the point of getting IT Certifications? To have a piece of paper?

You got it. Unfortunately, that piece of paper is the only way non-technically-minded individuals have to gauge your technical prowes, so they tend to attach unreasonable worth to them.
This isn't a problem...it's an opportunity. "Turn the problem on its head...that's what the Bishop always said..." (apologies to Harry Harrison).
Most people in the IT field are good test takers...if you don't think of yourself as a good test taker, you probbly haven't worked hard enough at it. In a world where you will be judged all too often by your alphabet soup, test taking is a skill you must master. Myself, I've only studied for exams from books, rather than take expensive classes, commonly take about 20 minutes to finish a certification exam, and I haven't failed one yet. Am I that much of a genius? Heck no...I just test well, that's all.

To my mind, the key to testing well (as well as actually coming away with knowledge you can useon the job), is to actually understand the material, rather than simply know the answers by rote. When you can answer the practice questions without looking at the multiple choice answers, and understand why your answer is correct, you're ready.

Just paper (5, Insightful)

QMO (836285) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429199)

Certifications are just paper and don't guarantee any knowledge or skill.

College degrees are just paper and don't guarantee any knowledge or skill.

The trouble is that experience on a resume is just paper too, and doesn't guarantee any knowledge of skill either.

If you're hiring, how do you tell the difference between paper knowledge/skill and real knowledge/skill?

Until everyone's completely honest (and probably after too) hiring will always be a lot of guess-and-check.

who knows (1)

42Penguins (861511) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429040)

I've done just fine for friends/co-workers working on their pieces of crap with no initials after my name. I suppose if you're in a corporate setting, though, it would be a LOT different.

If the job requires cert and you know the stuff, might as well get resume fodder.

Certs get you past HR (1)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429042)

...and for the workflow software to flag, hence getting it forwarded to the hiring human being.

Aside from that, they may or may not be of value.

If it's what gets you the job... (1)

haluness (219661) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429043)

..then you probably need it!

I'm not in the IT field per se and so I don't have any experience of certifications. But it seems to me (after reading a lot of rants and comments on /.) that it's what gets you noticed.

Now, if you are some IT superman, you probably will get noticed without it and this discussion is moot. But for the rest of us, I would think we'd just have to get a peice of paper which gets the foot in the door.

I fully agree with the submitter - a certification is no gaurantee of knowledge or skill and it sucks to have to get one because a job wants one or a promotion requires one :(

I saved this from a previous slashdot article. (5, Insightful)

Vodalian (203793) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429045)

When a shop requires certifications (MCSE, Cisco, Novell, Solaris... don't care which), you can count on the following:

1. You will have a pointy haired boss. This person will be a "manager", and have little technical skill. He/She will not be able to actually evaluate your work at a technical level. He/She will use "industry standard" metrics to evaluate your performance. The fact that you have a $CERTIFICATE makes you a safe bet for them to hire, since they probably can't tell the difference between someone walking in off the street and lying their ass off, and a seasoned 10 year IT vet.

2. You will make roughly "industry standard" wage, since your boss will really have no idea what you may or may not be worth.

3. Your chances of getting promoted to management are close to nil. After all, you can't go promoting the people that do all the work. They're too hard to find!

4. Your shop will get dragged, kicking and screaming into new technologies, since these likely have no certifications, and therefore no way for management to evaluate their worth. Your positive opinion towards new technologies will be considered an attempt to fill your resume in a vain attempt at escape or promotion.

Get certified... Work for the clueless.

Mo money, mo money, mo money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13429046)

So what is the point of getting IT ertifications? To have a piece of paper

Many people think (with some justification) that the piece of paper will lead to a higher income.

That's all.

CYA (4, Interesting)

TheWanderingHermit (513872) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429048)

Since I'm in my own business, this doesn't apply, but if I were a mid-level manager and needed to hire an IT person, and I hire someone with certification I can truthfully say I checked his qualifications. If they screw up, well, it's not my fault because I checked on what I could. But if I hire someone without certification, and they screw up, I can't prove I did all I was supposed to.

At least that's how I hear it from friends. Personally, I'd rather throw out oddball questions that most people won't expect from a manager and see if they actually know how to do what they claim they can -- or can at least think through the process. I'd rather have a competent tech or programmer than a certified one, but if you're not a the top, it can be different. Then it's better to prove you checked credentials and certifications than that the person actually be able to do the job.

the sad truth (1)

tazanator (681948) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429052)

Well I can sum it up in a comparison to the college deplomas. I work with a guy that runs an Ebay outlet for the company. He is well paid and got hired at a larger salery because he had a BS, however the BS degree is in English lititure. I have only a HS deploma and MANY years experiance I am often hired in at the same wages as a high school deploma earns. It seems that the pay is based on how much training (regardless if it fits the field or not) you have recieved.

The point IS the piece of paper. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13429054)

Most of the time I'd say that people going for certifications are already fairly familiar with whatever software/hardware they want certified for.

It may sound stupid, but the reason you pay to take a test to get a piece of paper stating that you know something is to have an organization backing your claims of expertise up.

Same as every other qualification (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13429055)

It's the same as every other qualification, it's just for the piece of paper. (But some are not worth the paper they are written on :cough: MCSE :cough:)

Doy (1)

Apreche (239272) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429056)

Certifications are things that stupid people get because stupid companies require you to have them before they hire you or give you certain responsibilities. Smart people don't get stupid certifications or work for stupid companies. About the only thing they are good for is resume filler.

A good idea is to get one or two of the better certs and stick them on the resume. If an employer seems really interested in them then don't work there!

Certis (1)

sfled (231432) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429057)

Got a couple of certis - from my own experience, I learn only those things that interest me, leading to holes in my education. The certi course of study will cover material you may not otherwise have learned. Other than that...

Certification saves the highers butt. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429058)

Espectilly in government where people are repremanded for their failure vs. corprate which rewards for their success. If you hire a person who is certified and he does a crappy job you can say but he was a certified professional. Vs. if they hired someone without the certifications and he did a crappy job, then the hirer would be in a load of trouble for hiring somone without proof of their credentials. If they harded somone who was not certified and he did a good job for many years but that one project that he messed up on many people in government will use that to get rid of the person who hired them. A certification doesn't say I know what I am dooing but it says you will not get in trouble if you hire me and I don't know what I am dooing.

My opinion (1)

Docrates (148350) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429060)

When you're hiring, you have very little to go on when it comes to judging attitued, aptitude, knowledge and skills.

Certification should be considered as a contribution to the knowledge part, but not much more than that. Even when it comes to knowledge it should be suggestive and not deterministic.

Problem is, lots of people with lower skills, knowledge and aptitude than those required by a position are the ones doing the hiring, and so take these certification as an indicator of all 4 characteristics I mentioned earlier, instead of just 1.

If you're a manager doing the hiring, please note that certification is not that very different from any other seminar when it comes to judging how good an employee will be.

If you're the one looking to get hired, please note that most managers won't pay attention to my previous paragraph and so certification will probably help you find a job.

Employer needs to know what you know. (1)

Poromenos1 (830658) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429064)

Employers ask for resumes for a reason, they want to see what you know. They can't see how much you know from a 30 minute interview, so they want to look at your resume. Of course, if you know more, they'll realise that while you're working for them and promote you, or, conversely, realise you don't know anything and fire you. I just hope they knew the difference between useful and useless degrees (like the ECDL).

Certifications (1)

killmenow (184444) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429065)

I love having lots of certifications. It shows how smart you are. Plus, it just looks cool having all those letters after your name.

-Killmenow, CCNA, CNE, MCSE, RHCE

PS. Really, I let them ALL expire. They were neat to obtain but serve almost no practical purpose. They are mostly there for HR types, PHBs who wouldn't know talent from a hole in the ground, and vendors to bilk you out of more and more money keeping you on the re-cert treadmill.

The real question is the one you ask your boss. (1)

aixnotpains (863640) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429066)

Will I get a raise if i pass the RHCE, CCNE, MCSE etc etc. simple answer..... NO! So I have to agree there is no point. I have been a systems admin/engineer for about 13 years. I have NEVER taken a cert test. They just strike me as a waste of money and time. My managers have mostly always agreed.

Get as many certs as possible (1)

Zen (8377) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429069)

Yes, I agree that to those who know what they are doing, the certifications do not necessarily mean anything unless you're talking about top tier cert's like cisco's CCIE. However, I have yet to know of a large company's HR department that does not use ceritications to rule out potential applicants. A similar resume that both people have 5 years of experience and a bachelor's degree, but one person has a CCNP and a couple other cert's, they will sometimes throw out the person without a cert depending on their departmental regulations, and other times they will simply put the person with the cert's on top of the pile, so the hiring supervisor may not get to the person without a cert, even if it turns out that they are better qualified.

Personally, my company pays for $2000 of technical training per employee per year. We can choose to use that money towards a class, or towards taking tests, etc. They don't pay if we fail. We also do not typically get raises because of it, but when promotions do come around, it does make you look better as compared to your coworkers. Also, it is something to fall back on if you do get fired or quit from your current job. There is no downside to getting a certification unless you are legitimately broke and your employer does not pay. I see no reason for the general masses to not get a certification as the pointy hairs generally look at it and think you're a god.

Point? It's a filter. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13429075)

Certifications are designed to act as a coarse filter for skill sets. Specifically, having a certification for skill set X does not imply that you are proficient in skill set X, but it's a good first approximation.

It's not a perfect standard, but it's all we've got. What are the alternatives? "Job experience" on a resume isn't a good one; in a world where PHBs don't understand the technology that their developers are working on, generating "job experience" for a resume is as easy as passing a certification exam.

No Cert and No CS degree == ? (4, Insightful)

MarkEst1973 (769601) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429077)

I have neither a certification from a major vendor nor a CS degree. And I'm asked time and again how/why I got my computer skills. I'm knowledgeable and well read, but the lack of the "piece of paper" is glaring to employers.

Students with the 4.0GPAs with CS degrees might come out of school and not know jack about shit, while the self-taught guy with a 2.8 in Liberal Arts might code rings around the former. That's a fact.

I am in the process of getting certified and I would relish the opportunity to go back to school and get a CS degree. But the cert is a notch on my resume and a clear win in the short term. Once I'm in the door I know I can do well.

It's all about getting the toe in the door. Get the "piece of paper".

Re:No Cert and No CS degree == ? (2, Insightful)

killmenow (184444) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429197)

Students with the 4.0GPAs with CS degrees might come out of school and not know jack about shit, while the self-taught guy with a 2.8 in Liberal Arts might code rings around the former. That's a fact.
It's a fact that Alice might be better than Bob at knife-throwing, too.

Certifications (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429080)

At least somebody passing a certifiation knows something about the subject. (Braindumps notwithstanding, but no everyone cheats)
We have people here with Bachelor's Degrees that don't know squat about IT, but got their job soley because of that aptly named BS.
True, some people may very knowledgable w/o a Cert, but the chances are that those with them know the technology fairly well, while the risk increases (from a hiring HR standpoint) without them.
I'd much rather see somebody with aN IT Cert than a BS in mathematics apply for a job in my Network Services unit, yet unfortunately, the guy with the Math BS is more likely to get the position and have to be taught everything from the ground up.
Besides, if you really know your stuff, why not take the test(s) ? What's to lose ?

A little more than that... (1)

mfh (56) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429081)

So what is the point of getting IT Certifications? To have a piece of paper?

People who hire you will not believe you when you say that you posess a certain level of knowledge unless you have a cert to prove it.

It's all a matter of CYOA, and HR people have been doing it for years. Trust is not something large corporations take to the bank, and for good reason.

That said, Certs are over-rated. People can memorize, cheat, or simply lie about having the cert. Memorizing the info for passing a cert actually makes you LESS effective because you can't apply that knowledge, plus it doesn't account for the beauty of hacks and workarounds, which most coders are cheered for, whenever they get the little praise they do.

I'd rather have a cert than not, because it decorates my resume nicely.

Taking the Java programmer certification test... (2, Insightful)

tcopeland (32225) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429082)

...was a good exercise for me. It made me dig into all sorts of nooks and crannies of Java that I don't usually work with - unsigned right shifts and nested inner class scoping issues and all that kind of thing.

I've probably forgotten most of that stuff, but I thought it was worthwhile to have studied up on it once.

Cert Value?????? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13429084)

Certifications do serve a purpose (other than to push a vendors technology).

If I had two identical candidates (experience, personality) one who is certified and one who isn't, I would hire the certified person. It shows a commitment and desire to learn.

The Biggest problem is that people think certification is a replacement for experience, which it definitely is not.

One Word: Jobs (1)

sjvn (11568) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429087)

It really doesn't matter what You think about certifications.

What matters is that HR departments use them as a filter to keep out the great unwashed from jobs.

You can have been the guy who said to Linus, "Hey, have you looked at Minix? Pretty cool, huh?" Or, have actually written the program that the company someone to run, but without the right letters on your resume, you're not going to land the job.

I talk some more about it, and Linux, here:

http://www.thechannelinsider.com/article2/0,1895,1 627386,00.asp [thechannelinsider.com]

The bottom line: certification and networking (and I'm not talking TCP/IP) are two of the best ways to get an IT job.


Benefit (1)

Intrigued (757997) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429088)

Certification is better than walking in off the street saying "I can do that". I means that you at least have had proper procedures and knowledge pass in front of your eyes and spit back out on a test.
Validated experience on a resume is better.
Certification with experience is best.

Bottom line is... if you have the experience and can pass the exams, why not do it to cover all bases. If you know the stuff, it should be easy for you.

Not unlike the benefit of any schooling - the boss knows that you have at least had some basics covered.

Most of the time more certs=more money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13429090)

See title...

I found the classes for my certification to be decent training about half the time. The best reason to get certs in my opinion is the largish pay increases and the oppotunities for advancement that are usually tied in with them.

Cisco CCNA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13429091)

I think there is very little point in this certification because everyone taking it seems to cheat (the tests are the same for everyone - surprise surprise the answers are all over the net)

Most "Certified Techs" (2, Interesting)

Dugsmyname (451987) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429092)

Most heavily certified techs I've met have read the books, and taken the tests without any practical knowledge... They are surrounded by papers with their names Embossed between either a Microsoft or A+ Logo, and usually can't troubleshoot their way out of a paper bag. When hiring I pay no attention to certifications, but ask open-ended questions that give me insight to how the applicant would react... I never knew that the certification process spent so much time covering System Restore and System Recoveries....

It depends on your target employer (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429095)

If you want to work for a non-tech company, certifications become more important.

Like any grading system, they allow a potential employer to assess baseline knowldege, whether or not they themselves have that knowledge.

If you want to work for a large company, or a tech company, they shrink in value -- as the knowledge they pertain to becomes verifiable by the employer directly.

Ex. My sister does tech recruiting for a large supermarket chain; they ignore certifications, as they have the wherewithal to test candidates' knowledge according to their own standards.

Furthermore, they have a very large IT section; jobs are specialized enough that the knowledge set specific to these jobs are more important that the knowledge sets specific to most certifications.

That said, it can't hurt your career to have a certification -- the question is, is it worth paying for.

I am guessing here, but it seems to me that the more glutted with workers the market is, the more important certifications become. If I have 400 resumes for one open position, it is an easy way to weed out a lot of those resumes.

To get Interviews (1)

Sylver Dragon (445237) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429096)

All the certifications are going to do is get you and interview, and that is what they are there for. Once you get in front of someone who knows what the hell they are talking about, your pieces of paper are as good as toliet paper. If you are interviewing with someone who knows what they are doing, and you can't display the knowledge those certs say you have, you're not getting hired.
The other side of this is that certifications will get you a job at the higher levels where you will only be interviewed by upper management types and HR. None of them are going to know a thing about what you do, they just want the computer-thingies to run. So, the more letters the better, and it also helps to be a good salesman at that point.
Really, it comes down to the job you are after. If you are going to be part of an IT staff, a few certs might get you in the door, but it's your knowledge which will get you the job. If you are going for a high level job where you aren't going to face a knowledgable interviewer, go for the alphabet soup.

employer's benefit (1)

outcast36 (696132) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429097)

In a past life, I worked for a consulting firm working its way up the Microsoft foodchain. The more certs we had, the higher ranked the firm was, which meant MS would give us jucier leads and better discounts. So we were encouraged to seek them out.

In conclusion, certs can be a nice icing for the business side who has no idea what you do, but make your employer pay. let me repeat do not pay for training, study guides, exam, or take unpaid time-off to study

Compare it with college degrees (1)

CycleMan (638982) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429100)

IT certifications may be a lot like college degrees. Just because you know that they are not well-correlated with knowledge and ability doesn't mean that your employer knows this.

I would caution against too-specialized advanced degrees (yes, Museum Training in Anthropology really exists) and certifications when you're not sure what you want to do, because the employer will think this is your specific field of interest and not think as broadly about where he can apply your skills.

Certification Value (1)

CSHARP123 (904951) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429103)

The people who look at resumes initially are non-technical and buzz word lookers. For these people certificates on your resume means you have done a great deal of work. So it helps you pass that initial sorting of resumes.
To do the real work, you need real experience.

To get a job, of course (1)

winkydink (650484) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429104)

That's the only real reason to get a cert. To get a job where either HR or the PHB has decided that you need the cert to get hired.

It's to say you can do it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13429105)

Sometimes it's great to do something 'cause you can, to show that you can. It's like a merit badge. You don't get anything other than saying you have yet another qualification.

Hiring someone solely on certs is like hiring someone solely on any atomic thing. A good resume will list many accomplishments, through work, school and certifications. And it doesn't have to be a complete mix either.

But for non starter stuff, a cert and one job experience, or a few certs, is good for an entry level job though not for mid-level.

Ive wondered the same thing... (1)

Pattmyn (856871) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429107)

....about my college course. I shall quote it:

"Industry certifications provide potential employers with an objective gauge of an applicant's level of expertise. For this reason, the CETY program prepares graduates to challenge industry certifications including Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP), Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA), Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP), and components of the Microsoft Certified System Engineer (MCSE 2000) and Cisco Certified Security Professional (CCSP).

The CETY program will appeal both to students with no prior knowledge of networking and those with a foundation/knowledge in this area. "

Nowhere in there does it say you walk out with these certs. So let me get this straight, Im paying 3k+ a year to take a course I could take online but I dont get a shiny college diploma so Im not accepted in society if I dont? Hoo-rah. Fun times for me. Funnyer still is I have a job right now at an ISP that is what I'd be doing when I'm done the course. This makes sence how?

My experince (2, Interesting)

mlheur (212082) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429108)

My Opinion (oversimplified):
Certification is for those who need to be told they're smart because they don't beleive it themselves

My department's opinion:
Get certified and we'll give you a one time bonus, plus *some* reimbursment of expenses. This way our sales guys can buy contracts with "we have this many MCSE, we have that many CCNA and overall we have all these certifications ready and waiting to support you.

more certs == more contracts == more income == bigger bonuses and pay raises.

So although I don't personally think it's that benefitial, I can see how overall your employer wants you certified.

it does help but mostly with PHB's (1, Insightful)

mAIsE (548) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429110)

I have 5 major certifications and can tell you they dont help with the day to day work except for what you have learned from the process.

What it does help with is getting your foot in the door with managers, it helps your resume and it makes you dig deeper the subject than you normally would go.

No different (1)

LukePieStalker (746993) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429111)

"Fact: You can have the knowledge without having to pay to be Certified when it comes to computers. Another fact: Just because you have the certification does not mean you actually know the material as well as someone who is not certified. You might just be good at taking tests.

Well, the same could be said of any type of degree, couldn't it?

Make your resume *Bling* (1)

PacketScan (797299) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429112)

From my experience the folks that don't have the certs know x times more than the folks with certs. I interviewed a few people that had certs and a few that didn't .. I hired the Ones that didn't have the certs because they were able to pass my basic knowledge exam.. Am i the only one that rigeriously tests the applicants?

For someone with no college, it worked well (1)

null_session (137073) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429113)

I have no college degree of any kind (for that matter, I don't have a HS diploma either, just a GED). In 1998 I got my MCSE and the space of about 2 months doubled my pay. It was definately worth it for me as it took me to the "next level". Much like college, it "got me in the door".

As always, YMMV.

To expand on the breadth of your knowledge (1)

Fusconed (196580) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429114)

Certifications are worthwhile, but only if your employer is will to pay for them, and the materials needed to get them. I've gotten several certifications, because it rounds out my knowledge in the specific area I've worked in, where I've delved quite deep, but know little in associated areas. Certifications allow you to develop the areas where you haven't had any experience, and ultimately improves your understanding across the board.

Plus, those that whine about not having them, probably can't pass the tests.

I've been posing the same question (1)

LinuxWhore (90833) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429116)

I've asked people what the point is of certification or even a college degree in IT if the people holding the paper don't necessarily know what the hell they are doing. If you ask me, it seems that most PHBs are PSE educated and have an innate need to justify the thousands of dollars and valuable years spent at college or tech school. Therefore, they only hire others who hold equally useless pieces of paper.

Am I bitter? Nah. ;-)

It would seem to me that professional references should stand above all when it comes to hiring for IT. The best judgments of a techie are the results he produces, not the acronyms behind his name.

Well the point should be (1)

ifwm (687373) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429118)

to be able to easily identify those people who have the kind of experience and training an employer would need.

The fact that they don't work that way isn't a failure of certifications, it's a failure of schools that turn out credentialed graduates without proper training, and a failure of people in hiring to hold those schools accountable by not hiring their graduates.

Certifications, when done correctly make sense.

A+ (1)

unidyneVII (867801) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429121)

I have an A+ certification-- I'm only in high school. But when I offer computer repair/custom building services, people often will respond first with a straight up "no thanks," then if I add that I've got this certification they'll think about it again for a second. Maybe this kid knows what he's doing?

Fact: (1)

frgough (890240) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429125)

The odds that someone with a certificate knows what the heck he is talking about is much higher than someone without a certificate who claims he knows what he's talking about.

Translation of the original submission:

I don't have a certification, but I think I know everything and am too much of a cheapskate to pay for certification, but want an employer to pay me what he would someone who was willing to go the extra mile and prove he knew what he was talking about by getting certified.

For my current employer (1)

throbbingbrain.com (443482) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429129)

My company wants their employees to have certifications for bidding on contracts. I don't mind - they pay for it and it could be a personal benefit some day.

Good certifications are more than a test (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13429136)

Good certifications require more than simply passing a multiple-choice test. For example, Cisco CCIEs must pass timed lab tests requiring specific goals be accomplished.

Good certifications also require continuing education to stay certified. Other certifications, security ones in particular, require someone (already certified) to sponsor you.

Unfortunately, there are very few *good* certifications.

In my experience (2, Interesting)

sysera (809709) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429139)

Having a lot of certifications will get you passed over during the interview process. I live in Maine which is not a giant tech state. People see those on your resume and assume they cannot afford you. Also I've never got a job that didn't come about by knowing someone on the inside. My first job I got after being a temp for two months. They liked me and hired me. The second job, an old teacher of mine (UNIX/Solaris) is one of the head UNIX Admins and I'm sure that didn't hurt me at all.

Bitter tone... (1)

Fortress (763470) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429140)

...implies that you don't have any certs.

They're a way for people who don't have IT skills to evaluate the abilities of an IT person. As an analogy, say I'm terrible at math. If I see someone has a Ph.D. in Mathematics, I can be fairly confident that the person is at least competent in math.

Are certs perfect? Hell no. As mentioned in the article, it is possible to be supremely skilled and have no certs. It is also possible to have certs and be an empty suit (we all know this guy). But certs, for better or worse, are often the only game in town and you should learn to play it.

I know (1)

Thumper_SVX (239525) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429141)

For much the same reason you get a degree; to get your foot in the door when you're looking for a job.

A certification won't guarantee you a spot in the company, but it DOES increase your chances.

Take my workplace for example. We're a large company and a relatively large division of that company. When a job is posted as available, incoming resumes and applications go first through Human Resources. Now, every application gets "vetted" by the HR people, and quite frankly they know next to nothing about what constitutes a good IT guy.

Now, when the resume or application has "run the gauntlet" then we'll get to see them. That's when we can choose our candidates.

The problem with this? Well, at some point the HR people decided that industry certifications were a requirement for this job. Apparently they don't listen when we say otherwise. As a result the certification at least gets your resume in front of the manager, but does not necessarily get you hired.

FYI, once the resume hits us, we pretty much ignore the certifications part and look at the meat (work experience and so forth). To my mind, good work experience is much better than certifications.

Having said that, there are ways to shortcut this system, but they're rare and usually involve a reference from an employee already working there.

So, it depends on the type of company you want to work with. Small companies typically don't care too much about certs. Consulting companies usually require them. Big companies don't really care, but you're not going to even get their attention unless you have at least one certification at the top of your resume.

Honestly though, for the cost of most certs these days you may as well just get one. Hell, if you self-study you can get an MCP with a single test (about $100)... that at least gets your "in".

Money (2, Insightful)

Cally (10873) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429144)

The 'point' of any for-profit certification is to make money for those administering or awarding it. There are other effects, too, but that's the 'point'.


MCSE who doesn't know how to rename a computer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13429152)

I've met MCSEs whose only experience is taking classes on getting their MCSE, and they could not rename a PC. They have no other experience other than learning to take the MCSE.

I think a BA/BS and certs are they way to go. The bachelors teaches one skills needed to work with people, logical reasoning, the ability to write clearly, and other skills needed for human interaction on an intelligent level. A bachelors degree teaches good, all-around skills in a relatively short period of time. If employers are also smart, they'll only hire from above a certain GPA (3.25).

BUT WAIT -- I know you don't need to go to college to be able to do that, but so many IT people I know and work with have no social skills. I've risen to a high level manager (and I still get to work in the trenches sometimes) because I have social skills, and my coworkers didn't/don't.

The certs help in honing the IT skills -- and in making it easier for employers to be more certain that I understand what I'm doing. I've also found I learn things in cert classes -- but boot camps are not the way to go for truely learning the skills. They're great as a starting place sometimes.

I say you need a combo of college degree and certs.

Fact: Most people who only have certs are idiots (1)

borgheron (172546) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429154)

So who would want to hire them anyway. I, have a degree in Computer Science and I'm currently currently working on my Masters. I have a love for this work and this industry.

Most people who seek certifications are only in it for the money. And most of the people I've worked with or who have worked under me who have only had certs have been somewhat clueless.

I'm sure I'm going to get flamed... so have at it. The truth hurts.

Later, GJC

Is Money Worthless Paper Too? (2, Informative)

Saxerman (253676) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429156)

You might think you can code 10x better than the average code jockey, but that doesn't mean squat unless you can convince the people who count. The entire point of certifications is almost exactly the same as getting a degree. A potential employer needs some way of knowing what you know. Certifications are one way of attempting to demonstrate that knowledge when comparing you to other candidates. If you're already employed, the certs/degrees help your salary, as they influence what a competitor might pay if you decide to walk. You may have already convinced your boss that you know your stuff, but how well can you convince someone you've never worked for?

Getting a degree might not mean you know anything, but it can demonstrate that you're dedicated and dependable, which are important qualifications in the work place. A certification is typically a lot easier to get, so they don't hold the same weight, but that makes them a good way of showing potential employers that you're staying current with changing technologies.

Obviously there are other methods of demonstrating your worth to a potential employer, certs are just part of the 'ol resume toolkit.

Certs? (1)

bitfoo (852965) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429157)

Well for me, the certifications I earned helped me get my foot in the door into the IT world. While I have on the job experience that is worth much more than those shiny pieces of paper, it was near impossible to convince HR managers that my lack of certifications did not represent my actual skillset. Earning those certifications got me past the gatekeepers, and I suspect the same is true for many slashdotters.

Not as important as they say (1)

21chrisp (757902) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429161)

Despite the fact that I have a BS in Computer Science from a top ranked school, I've been turned down for several jobs due to the lack of "Certification." In one instance I was told that I was underqualified due to the lack of "A+ Certification." Somehow my CS degree just didn't prepare me for installing drivers and such.

The way I see it, I probably didn't want those jobs anyway. It comes from ignorance on the part of management. There are still many CIOs that don't really understand IT and certifications are a bit of a security blanket for them. These people also tend to hire individuals with a business management background as their managers rather than IT people (they tend to think of IT people as managerial challenged). In then end I don't want to work under management that has no IT experience, so it's usually just a good indication to move on. Unfortunately this still seems very common, especially for medium sized business and large non-technology corporations.

I guess if that's the type of job you want, then get certifications. Otherwise, just take classes and let your work/knowledge speak for itself. A competent manager should know whether or not the person they're talking to is qualified (and should also know how to write a decent HR request).

Sometimes the certified are certifiable (1)

keraneuology (760918) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429164)

Some years ago I (the uncertified) was on site down in Mexico with a group of mercin-geeks, among who happened to be an MCSE. Some question arose about some arkane tidbit or another... nothing that was a show-stopper, more along the lines of a "why did they do it like this sort of thing" (I now know that this wouldn't have been covered in any MCSE prep and wasn't required to be known on the exams) and I suggested to the crowd that they go ask whuzzizface because "he's an MCSE... he should know."

Whuzzizhace happened to overhear my suggestion and rather than a) answer the question or b) respond with a simple "I dunno... that's not part of the training" he flew into a massive zitface rant about how I thought I was so smart and I needed to show respect for his credentials and respect how hard he worked to get his ticket and stormed off.

Tickets are needed to convince hiring managers - most of whom have no technical skills - that you know what you are talking about. They don't know the difference between a good tech and a bad one so they rely on certifications they know nothing about.

Understandable... would you trust a guy claiming to be the best gynecologist in the world if he didn't have a medical degree?

sometimes (1)

NemoX (630771) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429169)

They are useful if you are out of high school, or have an unrelated college degree (e.g. history) with no experience.

All that they do, as someone previously stated, is get you to the interview process. After that point, it doesn't make a difference...unless you want to hang them on your cubical wall, and have your fellow employees laugh about you hanging them up ;)

If you have a computer related college degree, or substantial experience (note: "I have been running Linux at home for five years" does not qualify), they will get you the interview, instead. Thus, making the certs nothing but wallpaper.

Certifications Are Not Bad? (1)

Evil W1zard (832703) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429174)

I honestly see nothing wrong with having certifications. Yes there are people who are good at passing tests but have no real experience, but that type of scenario should be weeded out during the interview process. I know when we look at people that have lets say a CISSP or a CCNA we ask them questions not only about the subjects they are certified in, but also go further to ask them other specific questions to determine their knowledge level. Having Certs can get you in the door for an interview, but having no knowledge usually to back up those certs is an easy Thanks for coming but not interested in the end. On the flip side those who have certs and are knowledgable become highly marketable. I have found that having many years experience and some certs like the CISSP has helped me out enormously in the IT realm. If you really feel jilted because you are uber experienced and dont have a cert then go out and get one. If you are smart on a subject then the path to certification in your area of expertise should be fairly easy...

Certification to replace experience (1)

JLavezzo (161308) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429175)

I was in a job doing some phone support, some PHP and some MySQL coding. I took a course in Java and got a certification in it.

In this case the certification replaced experience. I couldn't say to a new employer, "I have x years in Java" because my current job didn't have any Java work to do. The certification (from Sun) said I could do something the same as someone who may have more years of experience.

Depends on the Test ... (1)

HP-UX'er (211124) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429178)

... although HP has changed it slightly now, to get the advanced certification labeled 'Certified Systems Engineer', I took a two-day, hands-on lab building clusters and troubleshooting proctor induced issues, with no feedback until the end of the two days.
If you passed that test, my employer (and their clients) knew you were competent.
Now, HP has split it [hp.com] into a regular type test and a simulation lab. That pisses me off, as that seems easier to pass... making my certification mean less...

Getting paper (1)

faloi (738831) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429193)

As other people have mentioned, the big deal is getting that magic piece of paper to get your foot in the door. You won't pass most HR filters without a cert or degree. If you happen to be in a technology savy area, with lots of other tech types looking for a job, having a buzz-word (buzz-letter?) filled resume is going to get you to the point that an HR person actually reads your resume.

If you're already in the job, getting a certification is a decent way to fulfill some training requirement. And if you're the first one in your company to get a specific certification in your company, you might open some business doors for 'em. Thankfully, most of the companies I've worked for appreciate that monetarily...

The point is plausible deniability (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 8 years ago | (#13429194)

They want to be able to point to a standards body when a hiring decision turns out to be a bad one. If you come in and tell them you're a whiz at Foo, and it turns out you're lying, then HR can say "Well, he fooled the Certification Board as well, so it wasn't just us."
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