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Academic vs certification

Discussion in 'Other IT certifications' started by mark_uol, May 24, 2008.

  1. mark_uol

    mark_uol Bit Poster

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    Does anybody know how to compare academic qualifications with certifications? I have taken a MsC IT that included subjects such as networking and communications (a stogy diet of protocols), databases and OOP in C++. My interests are mostly to do with databases and application programming. The nature of my question is how can I decide which certifications are necessary to extend my education whilst avoiding redundant study?
     
    Certifications: MSc IT Security UoL
  2. Modey

    Modey Terabyte Poster

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    I think the first thing you need to do is decide on which path you intend to go down as IT is such a broad field. You have already mentioned databases and programming. There are quite a few certifications that specialise in both of these areas. Gaining actual experience in the area you wish to specialise in would be the first step really. Professional certs are totally different to academic qualifications. They are meant to 'certify' your skills and experience in a particular technology.
     
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCP, MCDST, MCSA 2K3, MCTS, MOS, MTA, MCT, MCITP:EDST7, MCSA W7, Citrix CCA, ITIL Foundation
    WIP: Nada
  3. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Apples and oranges.

    Certification isn't designed to help you learn new technologies... it's designed to show an employer that you can already work with new technologies. Thus, if you truly already understand them, the certifications should be a breeze. If you don't, then you should get them anyway. In either case, they're worth getting.

    Furthermore, certifications and degrees are designed to impress an employer. Some employers hold degrees and quals in high regard, some employers hold certifications in high regard, and some employers hold both in high regard. If you get both, you don't have to wonder what more you could have done to get a job that you're qualified to hold.
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  4. wagnerk
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    wagnerk aka kitkatninja Moderator

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    Just like Modey & BM already stated, you can't compare academic quals with Professional certs - Professional certs were developed to compliment academic quals and more importantly to show that you are competent in the technology you are certified in.

    The closest thing that you can use is the NQF to see where certs/quals sit in relation to each other. You can check out my other posts about this here & here.

    -Ken
     
    Certifications: CITP, PGCert, BSc, HNC, LCGI, PTLLS, MCT, MCITP, MCTS, MCSE, MCSA:M, MCSA, MCDST, MCP, MTA, MCAS, MOS (Master), A+, N+, S+, ACA, VCA, etc... & 2nd Degree Black Belt
    WIP: PGDip
  5. mark_uol

    mark_uol Bit Poster

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    Thanks all for the replies.
    I understand a little more about Certs now and see why you have gone to the trouble of setting up and maintaining this forum. The inclusion of experience in the award of a certification is a new idea to me but certainly a good one. As you will understand the problem for someone trying to gain a foothold in IT is one of credibility. I can honestly claim to have the abilities. So many jobs are advertised requiring experience that newbies could be discouraged before ever beginning.
     
    Certifications: MSc IT Security UoL
  6. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Isn't the point of requiring experience to discourage newbies from applying? If they wanted newbies to apply, they'd say, "No experience necessary" or "Experience desired, but not required".
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  7. sunn

    sunn Gigabyte Poster

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    This is where the saying "it's not what you know, but who you know..." comes from. Although I don't buy into it 100%, I can see where networking (human relationships) is a career boost
     
  8. mark_uol

    mark_uol Bit Poster

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    Yes that's true but IMO the requirement for experience is over used. I do not subscribe to the view that people must pass through a prolonged apprenticeship before joining the medieval guild of IT practitioners. Technologies come and go and newly trained people have much to offer as their learning is based on the best practices; these in turn are partly derived from the errors of the past.
    MN
     
    Certifications: MSc IT Security UoL
  9. Stoney

    Stoney Megabyte Poster

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    I don't think employers (in the UK) are legally allowed to specify an amount of required experience any more.

    Just because someone has 5 years experience in x, y, and z, it doesn't necessarily mean they know as much, or have been exposed to a technology as much, as some one with say 3 years experience in a similar role.

    I believe it is to try and focus more on a persons ability and not discriminate against someone based on the number of years experience they have.
     
    Certifications: 25 + 50 metre front crawl
    WIP: MCSA - Exam 70-270
  10. The_Geek

    The_Geek Megabyte Poster

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    Like BM said, it's like comparing apples to oranges.

    For example, I'm horrible with math. Fractions, algebra, geometry, etc. However, if you tell me you need a network that supports X numer of servers, Y number of clients and have Z number if available IP's in a 20 story building in all 50 states, I'll come up with a scheme. :D
     
    Certifications: CompTIA and Micro$oft
    WIP: PDI+
  11. derkit

    derkit Gigabyte Poster

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    I would have thought something to do with age discimination - someone young (18) can't have 5 years experience, even though they should be able to apply for any job.
     
    Certifications: MBCS, BSc(Hons), Cert(Maths), A+, Net+, MCDST, ITIL-F v3, MCSA
    WIP: 70-293
  12. Stoney

    Stoney Megabyte Poster

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    Yeah that's most probably why. 8)
     
    Certifications: 25 + 50 metre front crawl
    WIP: MCSA - Exam 70-270
  13. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    But if an employer is looking for someone with 5 years of experience, but isn't allowed to post that, then they're going to get a bunch of irrelevant resumes... and ultimately, they're STILL going to hire someone with the experience. HOW does this silly legality help 18-year-olds? It doesn't.
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  14. ffreeloader

    ffreeloader Terabyte Poster

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    In any field of endeavor that pretty much requires education you will find that a degree is only the very beginning of your education. A sterile academic environment or a lab just cannot teach everything that a person runs into in the real world. It's impossible. Thus a degree really is only a tool to show that you can finish what you start, and that you have some kind of basic knowledge. It depends on a person's native ability, dedication and ability to imagine beyond the context of their current lack of experience as to how much anyone takes away from a degree. That said anyone who applies themselves in the real world learns more in a year of work than a couple of years of formal education.

    So, formal education is only a jumping off point, nothing more, or nothing less. Is it useful? Yes. Is it given weight? Yes, as it should. But, no one coming out of school can compete knowledge-wise with someone who has the same level of intelligence and training, but 4 or 5 years of real world experience. It's just impossible.

    I worked for 4 years in a lab building a much larger library of technical books than any college student would in 4 years. I spent an average of 8 hours a day, 6 days a week in self-training. I learned a lot. However, when I got into a real-world position I really started to learn. I couldn't have even begun to have done the job without all the work I put into learning, but I've learned as much in the last year of working as I did in at least 2 years of lab experience.

    There just is no substitute for real world experience. You'll see that once you get a job in your chosen area of IT.
     
    Certifications: MCSE, MCDBA, CCNA, A+
    WIP: LPIC 1
  15. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Then that's your opinion. But my 10 years in IT have shown this to be *absolutely* true. Experience learned in the past is transferred to future technologies. When Windows Server 2008 came out, I can guarantee you that a newbie did not start off on the same footing as someone who had administered Server 2003 in a live environment.

    Additionally... you'll eventually discover that written "best practices" aren't the same as either realistic "best practices" or practical "best practices". There's usually a reason why companies do things the way they do them...
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  16. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    It really depends on the individual, the job and the course doesn't it ? Theres people doing Phds working on live projects, building saterlites etc.

    This again is probably true for most but some people spend their whole life as academics, and they still manage to learn a lot, often more than people in regular jobs as they have more varied tasks.

    Again people must build a foundation, it need not matter whether this is built at work or college, once this is built then the real work can indeed begin.

    Learning direct from other people with expertise in a realistic context is a form of accelerated learning for most people, self study is naturally slower for most.

    Many jobs can become quite repetative after 1-2 years, so they don't always offer as good an opportunity for learning as you suggest. Thats one reason there is a high churn rate.
     
    Certifications: CITP, BSc, HND, SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCEA, N+, Sec+, Proj+, Server+, Linux+, MCTS, MCPD, MCSA, MCITP, CCDH
  17. mark_uol

    mark_uol Bit Poster

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    The programming job that I am applying for is described as taking place in an Agile Development Environment. As I understand it this implies an iterative development life cycle. To be complete each iteration must advance the prototype in order to implement an aspect of the predetermined functionality defined in the requirements documentation. (It even sounds boring to hear myself say it) I suppose that this is all very well in the lab but I wonder how much of this will actually take place at work?

    In general I do not dispute that experience is the most valuable component in the make up of a good employee. It would suit me to say so as IT is for me a second career so using experience as a synonym for age, I have plenty of experience. It still seems though that all job adverts include stock phrases such as "experience", "team player", "must work well under pressure", and I wonder how often they are relevant. MN
     
    Certifications: MSc IT Security UoL
  18. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Umm... that's my point. :) Theoretical lab knowledge doesn't equal real-world practical experience.

    You are experienced in other areas. That doesn't mean you have X years of experience in IT, that doesn't mean you have X years of experience programming, and that doesn't mean you have X years of experience administering networks. Spin it however you want, but when employers are looking for experience, they typically mean real-world industry experience.

    Hey, man, doesn't matter to me what you apply for; I wish you luck. But don't be surprised when someone who DOES actually match the experience requirements gets the job.
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  19. ffreeloader

    ffreeloader Terabyte Poster

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    For academics their job is academia, and they often have tools to work with that no one else does. Same with someone in a Phd program. They are doing hand's-on work with tools many of us can only dream of getting our hands on.

    My comments were pointed more at the 4 year and 2 year programs of learning at the college level. You get to post-graduate education and it's another world when compared to "regular college" and is much more like real-world work.

    Sure there are jobs become "boring" in a year or so, but not all do, and if a person has drive, initiative, and ambition they aren't going to stay in those low-level jobs. They will either get moved along by their employer or they will move along of their volition. That doesn't negate anything I've said, as those who are putting out the effort and have the drive to learn and excel are still going to be learning more from real-world experience than they are in school. You just can't help it as you're exposed to many more situations and environments than you are in school.

    As to learning more slowly when being self-taught I'm not too sure that's the case anymore with all the resources available on the internet. Look at all the help available to someone teaching themselves on this forum. How many students in a classroom have access to this level of help from people who have already spent years in their chosen field of study? Very, very, few....

    The advent and rise of the internet has changed the rate of learning for those who practice self-study. I have multiple places to which I can go for help no matter what the subject is I'm studying, and most times that help will come from people who have far more real-world knowledge, and as a consequence a much better grasp of the subject, than a teacher in a college will. I mean, if I can pick the brains of 200-300 people vs 1 person how much more likely am I to find a solution to my question or problem? Besides, the self-learner can learn at the speed he is comfortable with, not the speed a teacher feels they have to move at to cover the subject in a certain amount of time, or at the speed of those who either learn faster or slower than they do. I can't tell you how many times I've sat in a class bored out of my skull because someone else "just didn't get it" so the teacher had spend far more time on that aspect of the subject than I would would have had I been learning at my own speed. I can also honestly say that not very times in an educational institution have I been pushed to keep up, and I went through 12 years of private school education in which the requirements for learning were much more stringent than any public school at that level of education.

    To show you the difference between the educational system I went through compared to the public school system here I was thinking about going back to school after I had been out of school for 8 years. During those 8 years I did a massive amount of drugs, partied daily, and did nothing to support myself that used anything I'd learned academically. I took a bunch of aptitude and placement tests and I scored at the 90th percentile and above in every category for high school seniors for that year. Most areas were around the 95 percentile. That's after 8 years of chemical abuse of my mental faculties, and a complete lack of exercising them. And, I did no study, no refreshing of my skills, before I tested. I just walked in and tested. That's after I had a GPA in high school of around 3.5 because I screwed around academically and applied myself far more in sports than in academics. So, I'd say I went through a pretty rigorous educational system when someone who got the grades I did can score the way I did in placement tests. Yet, even then I was mostly bored in the classroom environment, when I paid attention that is. The teachers just had to move at a pace designed for the average student.
     
    Certifications: MCSE, MCDBA, CCNA, A+
    WIP: LPIC 1
  20. neutralhills

    neutralhills Kilobyte Poster

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    Academic qualifications, once earned, are yours for life. Vendor certifications are yours until they expire (some do, some don't), they are retired, or you stop meeting the criteria for holding them (e.g. I used to be an MCT until MS changed the rules and made it irksome for people who didn't have a steady training gig to hold the cert). Pity anyone who invested in SCO certs, for example.

    I'm currently working towards a Bachelor's Degree in Communications and plan to follow that up with a Master of Fine Arts with a photography specialization. Those will be MINE until I die unlike my multitude of MS certs which are mostly on loan from Steve Ballmer.
     
    Certifications: Lots.
    WIP: Upgrading MS certs

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