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Importance of certifications

Discussion in 'Employment & Jobs' started by Reg Hickey, May 9, 2007.

  1. Reg Hickey

    Reg Hickey New Member

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    Apologies if this has been covered before, but I was wondering how important certifications are in advancing your career?

    As a non-IT guy, I would have thought that experience is by far the most important factor for any prospective employer, and that has been backed up by everything I've seen and read so far.

    But certs seem to be important too. A lot of you experienced guys on this site seem to have a few of them - how important have they been in your careers? Can you get where you need to go without them if you have enough hands-on experience? Are they absolutely necessary, or is it just that they will get you there years faster?

    Really, when you boil it all down, I am asking how much respect employers give to certifications. For those with experience, how different would you look in the eyes of employers with your experience and certs, compared with roughly the same experience but no certs?

    I assume that the level of respect will depend on the certification we are talking about - I am thinking mainly of Microsoft (eg. MCSE, MCSA), Cisco (eg. CCNA, CCNP) and entry-level (eg. A+) certs here.

    Any thoughts / comments / links would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!
     
  2. JonnyMX

    JonnyMX Petabyte Poster

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    As an employer, certs are one of the first things I glance at on a CV before I throw it in the bin.

    That doesn't mean that I make a decision based purely on this information, but it gives me the ability to benchmark a person to an extent.

    No certs - usually means no IT experience and may indicate that they haven't done their homework on the industry.

    Too many certs - braindumper? Especially if it isn't linked to an IT career. Why is someone with an MCSE, CCNP applying for a junior IT role? What's wrong with them?

    Dodgy mixture of certs - MCSE + MCSD. What are you? Engineer or developer?


    In short, certs can impress if you can back them up with actual ability, but beware of overdoing it. A cert isn't a passport for a job and I'm more likely to bin someone for being overqualified that for being at the bottom and moving in the right direction.

    But then, I'm a b@stard.

    :twisted:
     
    Certifications: MCT, MCTS, i-Net+, CIW CI, Prince2, MSP, MCSD
  3. nicolinux

    nicolinux Byte Poster

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    Maybe some mcse, working in a small company, would not mind
    start from junior sysadm in a big company.
    Or maybe that happens just in Italy.
    Or maybe that is just my own case. I am studying hard for my mcse, and i am learning a lot of course.
    The project would be to leave my small it company and have a try in a big one. Even if i have to start from scratch.
    Nico
     
    Certifications: mcse win2k3, mcts x4. mcitp enterprise admin
    WIP: 70-680
  4. Crito

    Crito Banned

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    Experience is what matters, once you get past HR and actually get a technical interview. To get to that point, though, you have to impress people with communications and english degrees who get confused if you don't send them a Word doc -- I used to send my resume attached as an HTML doc thinking that should be even easier, as only a web browser is required and most email clients will display it in-line... every single recruiter replied asking for it in Word format instead. :rolleyes:

    Anyways, it's kind of like having a Ph.D after your name: you could still be full of cr@p but at least someone will listen to you. Without certs or an advanced degree you could discover a unified theory that explains everything and nobody would notice. :ohmy
     
    Certifications: A few
    WIP: none
  5. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    Three-legged structure with experience being the lead leg:

    Experience
    Education
    Certifications

    Despite what the certification vendors tell you, certs exist only to verify that you already have the skills to do the job.
     
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  6. madman045

    madman045 Kilobyte Poster Premium Member

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    Makes me wonder sometimes, I left school at 16, don't actually have any real "IT" qualifications, yet I have worked in IT for nearly 10 years (scary i know)

    So unless i've been really lucky, im still working in IT.

    I've seen plenty of CV's and people with a lot of experience/qualifications, however come the interview, all of a sudden they cant even add a workstation to a domain...

    my 2p

    Andy
     
    Certifications: 70-270, 70-290, PRINCE2 Foundation, VCA-DCV & VCA-DT
    WIP: MCSA 2008, VCP5-DCV, ITIL V3
  7. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    I'd say then madman, that your experience is the key factor that keeps you in the field. It's called "the school of hard knocks". :wink:
     
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  8. Crito

    Crito Banned

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    I've got the worst luck in the world. But I think determination plays a big role too: if you're just in it for the money go for a law or business degree instead. :oops:
     
    Certifications: A few
    WIP: none
  9. GrumbleDook

    GrumbleDook Byte Poster

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    For me it is experience, adaptability and enthusiasm.

    As someone who has never been a strong advocate of certificates (mainly because I have seen those who have them and are not worth the air they breath, and those that don't who just walk on water!) I look for the possibilities that candidates show.

    Admittedly it is slightly different in an Edu environment that in other areas as the pay is naff ... and certification comes under general education for me.

    It is worth pointing out that I only have C&G level 2 in PC Maintenance and Repair ... and now't else ... in spite of doing a number of MS courses ... I just can't be bothered to do the exam. I have learnt what I needed and moved on.

    I really should book the exam for close after the course to force me to take it.
     
  10. JonnyMX

    JonnyMX Petabyte Poster

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    All very commendable qualities.
    Whatever you choose to do, if you have those you're in with a fighting chance.
     
    Certifications: MCT, MCTS, i-Net+, CIW CI, Prince2, MSP, MCSD
  11. JonnyMX

    JonnyMX Petabyte Poster

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    But can I also quote David Brent here:

    'Remember that age and treachery will always triumph over youth and ability.'
     
    Certifications: MCT, MCTS, i-Net+, CIW CI, Prince2, MSP, MCSD
  12. Arroryn
    Honorary Member

    Arroryn we're all dooooooomed

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    This can be a tricky question, as there can never be one true, definitive answer. The answer will always be in the head of the person that first and foremost rejects your CV. So never apply for a job for Jonny :rolleyes: :biggrin

    I think the key here, is to do research on the industry you are looking to get a job in. And no, the answer here isn't in IT. I do First Line for a law firm, for example. So, are you going to be aiming for manufacturing, law, education, public services? If you can't answer this question, I'd think twice about sending your CV.

    Saying you want to get a 'foot in the door' is all well and good, but from what I see and hear, I personally think it's easier to get in to some industries than others (puts on flame retardant suit).

    That may be due to management attitudes or for any multitude of reasons. But it would be less competitive for example, for you to look for an IT job with a local manufacturing firm than a software house or IT reseller. But the job is still experience nevertheless.

    The issue with the Certs/Experience debate is as bad as the Chicken and the Egg debate. I can't get a job without experience, and I can't get experience without a job.

    Getting as many Certs as you can is not the answer. I agree with posts above, that you can 'price yourself out of the market' as it were.

    Instead, get the relevant entry level Certs for the direction you're going to take. A+/N+/MCDST and the like.

    Then take a look around you. Can you start volunteering for a local charity? Can you start helping out at work? Would you take contracting work? (as, due to the insecurity of the position, it tends to be easier to get in to -from my other half's experience as an electrical engineer-)

    Right, I think this rant had a point. So here it is. As numerous people on this site have proved, you can get a job without the Certs. The are the bells and whistles on the belt of experience. Get yourself what you need to get noticed, and make sure you can get through your interview.
     
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCDST, 70-410, 70-411
    WIP: Modern Languages BA
  13. JonnyMX

    JonnyMX Petabyte Poster

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    Sincerely hope I won't have to...

    Very good advice there though!
     
    Certifications: MCT, MCTS, i-Net+, CIW CI, Prince2, MSP, MCSD
  14. BosonMichael
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Yep, it's as simple as this.

    Certification and education are certainly important... but they're mainly to fulfill employer requirements and/or to help differentiate yourself from your competition. Every edge helps.

    Certification alone won't enable you to get a job. Education alone won't enable you to get a job. Experience, however, will always be a primary factor for getting a 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!
  15. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    Its not just about proving what you already know from experience.

    Yes you need some industry experience but it is posible to switch tracks. Previous generations had many different diverse careers and they didn't let it bother them so much. So I think some of the narrow mindedness and pigeon holeing really isn't that helpful.

    New technologies/markets are continually being created, frequently 'nobody' has significant experience of these markets outside of a few niche companies and institutions.

    A few years back the cert industry was very small, also look at mobile phones, the internet and Cisco. At these times you could of quite easy switched with a good pitch.

    Look at XML, SOA, .NET and the new Dynamics stuff, when this stuff is released only a few individuals were/will be experts. If you have only a small amount of experience that is relevant you can break into these positions or markets.

    If you are trying to break into an overcrowed market then of course you will find it difficult to a) find a place and b) profit from it.

    Its more important than ever to realise that knowledge of tech alone is often not enough.
     
    Certifications: CITP, BSc, HND, SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCEA, N+, Sec+, Proj+, Server+, Linux+, MCTS, MCPD, MCSA, MCITP, CCDH
  16. fortch

    fortch Kilobyte Poster

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    Absolutely.

    One of the many benefits of certifications is constant learning, and being recognized by standards -- many IT pros I know have essentially 'stopped' learning, because their job is done challenging them and they maintain a nice living. Similarly, some refute the legitimacy of certifications as an entity that couldn't possibility test what they know, so they choose to ignore it.

    In the U.S., this happened years ago in the automotive world. Now, without certifications, some manufacturers won't pay for warranty claims if the tech is not certified in that area. Now, the IT system is structured differently, but something similar is happening now, and will continue in the future. Currently, in a competitive job market, most HR people trash resumes without the proper acronyms. Not because it reflects ability, but just because, if the candidates are closely matched, it's better to go for the person that has certifications. We had old-school techs in the shop that laughed at certs, and then found themselves in a job market that required them, or they'd have drastically reduced their chances of employment.

    In automotive, the days of rogue cowboy mechanics are growing slimmer every day, and other industries are following suit. In IT, coupled with experience (and education), it shows you to be well-rounded, learning, and adapting. Why not give yourself the best chances for success?
     
    Certifications: A+,Net+,Sec+,MCSA:Sec,MCSE:Sec,mASE
  17. GrumbleDook

    GrumbleDook Byte Poster

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    One of the problems I find with certification in the education circuits is that the benefits are often hard to prove to those that sign the cheques.

    Considering how much the books cost, then the courses followed by the exams ... now, you try explaining to a teacher that you have booked a single course for the same cost as the whole allocation of training to their department.

    Support teams have trouble justifying money on training sometimes, but I will say that you would never get the chance to get bored looking after IT in schools. Too much change and too many challenges for that.
     
  18. BosonMichael
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Yep... which is why most companies will pay for books and practice exams and exam fees, but not training courses.
     
    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. nellyp123

    nellyp123 Byte Poster

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    I must admit that i am finding it bloody hard to get that entry level job. I have applied for well over a dozen jobs in the last month and the companies who do reply, all say the same thing. " i am sorry Mr pearce, but you dont have enough experience and skill set".
    But i have only got one cert and sod all to show for it! which i am certain with the certifications ( or career path) that i am taking, i can change all that. I am doing web design ( CIW) and what i have already been told or should i say....advice been given.....about web design, is that i can show....well....the world what experience i have got by building web sites. I could have a dozen web design certs, but i if i didn't have the evidence (web sites) to back them up, then i would probally be in jonny's bin.
    My point is....if you have certs in an industry you can't show what you know...say....MCSE, then certs are very important, but if you are like me and only have the basic foundations certificate of web design, but have three shite hot designed web sites, then i am sure jonny will give me an interview????:biggrin
     
    Certifications: CIW Professional
  20. BosonMichael
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    If they're saying you don't have enough experience, then you're not applying for entry-level jobs. Entry-level jobs, by definition, don't require experience because they are jobs in which you ENTER the career field. If you're ENTERING the career field, you don't have any experience, right? Thus, if a job requires experience... it's not entry-level.

    In Web design, certifications aren't as necessary as they are in technical support. As you state, you can build a portfolio of your work. As your experience grows, your sites will naturally be better. Certifications can give you an edge... but only against people with similar experience levels. Certification isn't a magic key that will get you a job... and this is coming from someone who sells certification training products for a living!!
     
    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!

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