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Is certification a way into IT or a validation of knowlage?

Discussion in 'Employment & Jobs' started by cosway, Feb 26, 2010.

  1. cosway

    cosway Nibble Poster

    I feel that this subject has come up a lot in different threads throughout these forums, but would like your thoughts on the issue…

    The old which came first the chicken or the egg question… :twisted:

    I’ve noticed that a lot of people on here, who are just breaking into IT, already have Microsoft/Comptia Certs.

    When I was starting off I was also in the same position, and studied hard for the MCDST and A+ certs whilst driving buses (not whilst I was physically driving – this would have got me at least a written warning from my boss :eek: ) and fixing the odd PC on the side for friends/family during weekends/evenings, and I honestly believe that without the Certs I wouldn’t have got a foot in the door of the IT industry.

    There is no getting away from the fact that there is no substitute for experience, and now I have experience under my belt I see the certs more as a validation of knowledge, for example I now have about 2 years server 2003 admin experience, and only now am I preparing for my MCSA 2003 exams 8) , but did my MCDST with only home XP experience – (i.e. no domains, servers, user accounts, security permissions, etc...) :ohmy , but the raw knowledge I gained from studying for the certs prepared me well for jobs I ended up doing.

    Also I found that although I was the new guy (and the only MCP) – I was doing things the “Microsoft Way” and was seen as the “Microsoft Expert” which I feel bought me a bit of respect, allowing me to pick up a lot more responsibilities, very quickly. :D

    If there was someone in the position I was in a few years back asked me how to get into IT, I would probably tell them to get the A+ cert, then start applying for jobs as a trainee IT tech, or to start studying for the MCDST and start applying for helpdesk work.

    At the moment I am a Network Manager (Basically an IT tech with admin rights) – and although I am studying for certs, I am more concerned about validating my experience than progressing my career – is this the best attitude to have? and Which certs do you feel are more of a validation, than a foot in the door or a boost up ?
    Certifications: MCDST, MCSA, A+
  2. Boycie
    Honorary Member

    Boycie Senior Beer Tester

    I would say the answer to your question is both.
    Several members (including you and me) have used certification to gain employment and now using more advanced certifications to validate knowledge we use in our daily role.
    I would say there are more training routes (some with certifications involved) to "prove knowledge" for job roles than the expected comptia/microsoft route. For example:

    Back-up exec
    Mail washing utilities and services (mailmarshal and postini)

    Last edited: Feb 26, 2010
    Certifications: MCSA 2003, MCDST, A+, N+, CTT+, MCT
  3. onoski

    onoski Terabyte Poster

    Hi Cosway, you've pretty much answered your own question. Certification should be used as a learning experience of new technology as well as experience validation.

    Personally, I would go for a cert that's in line with my current field i.e desktop support - MCDST and server support - MCSA, MCSE according to your daily hands on work requirement. Cheerio and best wishes:)
    Certifications: MCSE: 2003, MCSA: 2003 Messaging, MCP, HNC BIT, ITIL Fdn V3, SDI Fdn, VCP 4 & VCP 5
    WIP: MCTS:70-236, PowerShell
  4. Asterix

    Asterix Megabyte Poster

    I would defo say both! but im sure we will get input from 'BosonMichael' confirming the purpose of certification is to 'Validate Knowledge' :p
  5. westernkings

    westernkings Gigabyte Poster

    It's to back up experience, validate knowledge and then to help learn some new stuff lastly.
  6. cosway

    cosway Nibble Poster

    Thanks you've all said more or less the same thing I was thinking.

    The entry level certs are an excellent foot-in-the door, and when you land your first job the fact that you actually have all this raw knowledge, just waiting to be turned into experience, makes life a lot easier than ploughing into your first job without any training, hoping to learn on the job.

    Also the higher certs I guess buy their structure force you into gaining the entry level certs first. Giving you the chance to gain experience before validating your experience.
    Certifications: MCDST, MCSA, A+
  7. SimonD

    SimonD Terabyte Poster Moderator

    Actually I disagree, I didn't have any entry level certs when I got into IT. My first ever cert happened to be the Novell CNA, that's not an entry level cert although it is at the bottom of the Novell certification ladder. In fact I never took an N+ or A+ exam because it was never needed, the only reason I have my MCSA is because I got it during the time I was studying for my MCSE2003. The list of certs in my sig actually depict the order I took the exams.

    You don't need to have a low level cert to move on in IT, it can help but definitely isn't a requirement.

    As far as certification goes with higher level certs (MCITP, CCNP etc) they are definitely aimed at proving your experience rather than opening doors.
    Certifications: CNA | CNE | CCNA | MCP | MCP+I | MCSE NT4 | MCSA 2003 | Security+ | MCSA:S 2003 | MCSE:S 2003 | MCTS:SCCM 2007 | MCTS:Win 7 | MCITP:EDA7 | MCITP:SA | MCITP:EA | MCTS:Hyper-V | VCP 4 | ITIL v3 Foundation | VCP 5 DCV | VCP 5 Cloud | VCP6 NV | VCP6 DCV | VCAP 5.5 DCA
    WIP: VCP6-CMA, VCAP-DCD and Linux + (and possibly VCIX-NV).

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