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Is it time to change our thinking - IT Certification

Discussion in 'Employment & Jobs' started by JohnBradbury, May 13, 2010.

  1. JohnBradbury

    JohnBradbury Kilobyte Poster

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    For a long time I’ve been of the mindset that certifications should only be undertaken to validate real world experience. To me this was a logical progression and ensured that certifications retained their value in the eyes of employers.

    I have often defended this train of thought both in casual conversation with colleagues and online in forums such as this. Not only did it make sense to me but it seemed like the only way to protect the value of the certificates I had invested in. However looking at today’s job market its clear to me that we are operating in a different world compared to when I started out and it occurs to me that I may be holding onto old fashioned values and trying to make them fit into a job market that has moved on.

    Back when I started out the IT job market was bubbling with opportunity and companies were keen to take on chance on new talent. Today it’s a very different picture where companies can pick up top talent for a bargain basement price.

    With the emerging markets in Asia opening up what seems like an endless supply of cheap IT labour opportunities are scarce and competition fierce.

    As with any industry the employers and their agents dictate the terms and this drives the direction of the workforce. Sadly today the market seems to dictate high level certifications as the entry point for even junior roles and even when the economy picks up I don’t see that changing.

    So what does this mean for newcomers to our industry?

    I think we have to face the reality that ‘times they are a changing’. The market has determined what it wants and we can’t blame or criticise people for trying to offer that.

    Does this mean that we will end up with less knowledgeable people holding certifications like the MCITP and CCNP – yes but the market has spoken.

    Rather than blame these people for trying to enter the industry we would do better to welcome them in and encourage them to gain practical experience to back up their qualifications. We should also look to lobby the leading certification vendors for more practical IT certification routes which incorporate face to face testing allowing people to set themselves apart from those who have simply answered a few questions.

    Just a thought...
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2010
  2. invierno

    invierno Nibble Poster

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    I very loudly applaud this post and its poster! I finally landed an IT job after 4 certifications and earning an associates degree; the certifications were what got me in the door. I am well-placed to see some huge improvements in salary and prestige next year as I have demonstrated my technical proficiency and ability in this job, and I have even been tasked with engineering our enterprise roll-outs of VMware View 4, Windows 7 deployment, and Office 2010 in just 5 months on the job. Yes, I work very hard to get to this point, but I would have never had the chance if I hadn't become certified. And no one on this forum can tell me otherwise from what I experienced.

    Thanks for actually stating just how so many of us have actually experienced getting into this field.
     
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  3. JonnyMX

    JonnyMX Petabyte Poster

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    I'm inclined ed to agree.

    Whatever the original intention of certification was, many of these qualifications are now entrenched in our society in the same way that SATS, GCSEs, A Levels and other qualifications such as Prince2 are.

    People more so now are looking to get one up on the competition and a certification on a CV may well do that.

    Is it so wrong?
    When you do Prince2, or any of the government accredited certifications from the likes of APMG or OGC they don't tell you that a minimum requirement is that you have managed projects for 18 months before applying. No, they teach you what you need to pass the exams and away you go.

    The other thing to take note of is that vendors seem to accept this state of affairs. Irrespective of the prerequisites on the MS website for taking an MCSE, they are both powerless and unwilling to enforce it. After all, isn't it better to have another MS person out there, waving the certificate around and using the technology?

    Yes, we can argue that this devalues the certification. That pisses off people that got it through 'traditional' methods and it makes things slightly harder for recruiters, but do the likes of MS care?

    I'm sticking my neck out here, but I think JB has a point in that people will continue to pursue certification for the 'wrong' reasons, training providers of all calibers will continue to train people irrespective of their experience and vendors will continue to hand out certificates based on nothing more than exam performance.
     
    Certifications: MCT, MCTS, i-Net+, CIW CI, Prince2, MSP, MCSD
  4. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Actually, what you are proposing *is* the "old fashioned" way that things were done... getting certified before you get the experience. That's why employers moved towards the "new fashioned" way... not hiring people based solely on certifications.

    I'm not sure where you're getting your info that shows you it's clear that things are changing... what are you saying? That employers are asking for MCSEs for entry-level jobs?

    How does what you propose change anything? So if you were an employer, would you hire someone with experience at a bargain basement price, or someone with certifications and no experience at a bargain basement price?

    They can't outsource everything. In truth, I haven't seen outsourcing affect administration jobs all that much.

    Absolutely disagree. Why do you need knowledge of server administration to do an entry-level job?? Makes no sense.

    Yes, the market has determined what it wants: people with experience, not just a bunch of certifications. Again, I dunno where you're getting your info from.

    Nobody's blaming people for entering the industry. I think it's great that people want to enter IT. But being overcertified doesn't automagically make employers want to hire you... PARTICULARLY when experienced techs are available and willing to work for less. THAT is where the problem lies for entry-level techs... competition is fierce.

    The argument about face-to-face testing has been done to death. It raises the cost of the testing program, it opens up opportunities for fraud and abuse, and... it can STILL be braindumped. How does face-to-face testing fix that?
     
    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+
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  5. Phoenix
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    Phoenix 53656e696f7220 4d6f64

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    Couldn't of said it better myself
    personally my experience has ALWAYS been this way, back in the 90s it seemed an NT4 MCSE was a requirement for a help desk job in London, so I had one

    When I started seeing too many jobs listing exchange as a desired skill set, I went and sat some exchange exams
    This is a trend i have seen, but have always been able to back up with technical competence.. not everyone can do the same, but i agree fully that practical based testing would help differentiate

    ultimately earning a cert is a very good way to learn a product, and i have always encouraged that, much to the dismay of other forum members ;)
     
    Certifications: MCSE, MCITP, VCP
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  6. JohnBradbury

    JohnBradbury Kilobyte Poster

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    Michael obviously you have a lot of experience in the industry and I respect that. On this particular topic I can see we don't agree and that's fine - I didn't expect people to necessarily agree with me but wanted to make people think.

    On the issue of entry level jobs asking for MCSE type certifications I take my information directly from the jobs market in this country, jobsites etc as well as talking to a lot of potential candidates for roles that I am advertising. It's a sad state of affairs but the reality of the situation unfortunately.

    I like to think that when I recruit I go with the person rather than the qualifications but you have to get a seat in front of me before I can make that call.
     
  7. Phoenix
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    Phoenix 53656e696f7220 4d6f64

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    The Job market here is no different at all, same ads hit the boards asking for crazy certs for simple jobs..
     
    Certifications: MCSE, MCITP, VCP
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  8. Theprof

    Theprof Petabyte Poster Forum Leader

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    I find it a litle different in Canada... I've looked for jobs online, in the paper, etc... Jobs varying from helpt desk to Architects and it seems pretty reasonable. I'll give an example, I was looking at a network admin's posting, 5 years experience administrating a 200+ person network, dealing with Exchange, AD, DNS, DHCP, Firewalls, etc... and the pre-reqs are a degree in computer science and an MCSE, reasonable right? I've also seen a posting for a specialized network position working with cisco equipment, and the requirement is CCNA-CCNP-CCIE depending on the level of dificutly, experience, etc... I don't think I've ever seen a posting in Quebec that is for a help desk job with a requirement of MCSE, etc... actually I don't think I've seen that in Canada much. You come across one or two postings that look funny but in the actual interview, when clarified it's optional or sometimes it has other reasons like hiring a junior sys admin and moving him up/promoting.

    In the US I don't know much because I never really look at the market, I've seen a few posts but nothing funny... the only thing I hear and see is the stuff in the UK, stuff that people post on this forum. Anyways with that said I am no saying this doesn't happen in canada or US, etc.. just that I personally have not come across that and believe me when I say, I looked hard a little while ago, just out of curiousity.

    Another thing, experience has always from what I read beat certifications, but certifications add a good bonus to your career. My boss does not hire based on certifications but on experience, other people I've spoken with are the same. It is really a mixed environment nowadays and some companies do things differently. I also believe that in certain areas/countries things are done differently which is why some things work for some people and not for others.
     
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  9. craigie

    craigie Terabyte Poster

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    First of all, I think the opportunities are there if you are a person with the apptitude and attitude.

    However, I don't think that recruitment agencies have much of an idea what an MCSE/A is, but they hear the word banded around and think it would be good for someone to have on 1st Line Support. I put this down as the main reason why people new to IT go for these qualifications as they see them as a pre requisite for employment.

    Also, I think that the people who work in IT are 90% lazy muppets who are about as useful as a broken vending machine. Having only been in IT for the last two years (nearly) if it wasn't for there can't be bothered or why should I approach I wouldn't have gotten the opportunities I have today.

    Not to stereotype but 90% of IT people who I have encountered wait for stuff to happen or go wrong rather than making things happen.
     
    Certifications: CCA | CCENT | CCNA | CCNA:S | HP APC | HP ASE | ITILv3 | MCP | MCDST | MCITP: EA | MCTS:Vista | MCTS:Exch '07 | MCSA 2003 | MCSA:M 2003 | MCSA 2008 | MCSE | VCP5-DT | VCP4-DCV | VCP5-DCV | VCAP5-DCA | VCAP5-DCD | VMTSP | VTSP 4 | VTSP 5
  10. onoski

    onoski Terabyte Poster

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    I quite agree with John here as over here in the UK if you don't have some sort of certification and only rely on your experience you'd be left behind. I still see jobs listed for a helpdesk requiring an MCSE, sad but true.

    I'd say do the certifications but by all means get hands on experience be it in a lab as well as in a live production environment. The latter is very essential when coupled with certification.
     
    Certifications: MCSE: 2003, MCSA: 2003 Messaging, MCP, HNC BIT, ITIL Fdn V3, SDI Fdn, VCP 4 & VCP 5
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  11. Modey

    Modey Terabyte Poster

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    I don't agree with that at all and I'll give you an example why ...

    We are about to hire another tech at our place and we have had quite alot of applications. We haven't seen all of them yet, but we have seen quite a few CV's and covering letters etc...

    The one that has stood out the most for me so far is someone who doesn't have any certs to their name at all, but has experience that is 100% relevant to the role that the tech will be taking on. Of course the person might not interview very well etc.. but based on what I have seen I have a good feeling about this person.

    Rather depressingly we have also had applications from some people who are certified up to the hilt, but have very little or no experience to back it up. They simply don't stand a chance ...
     
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCP, MCDST, MCSA 2K3, MCTS, MOS, MTA, MCT, MCITP:EDST7, MCSA W7, Citrix CCA, ITIL Foundation
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  12. jk2447

    jk2447 Petabyte Poster Moderator

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    I'm of the opinion that a person just starting out in IT should have entry level certs and no more. A+, N+, MCDST etc. I think its important to then build up experience for at least a year before trying anything else IMO.

    I think you hit the nail on the head John, to get past the initial CV filtering, you need to be certified to a higher degree these days. Companies want reassurance, and whilst a person could turn out to be a useless idiot, at least a hiring manager can have the fact that they were an MCSE, CCNP, MCITP etc in their defence when they took them on.

    In this day and age, those of us with IT experience, particularly at 3rd line+, need to keep up to date with certification, to show we aren't useless dead heads IMO (and that we care about keeping our knowledge current). Like Craigie I know a lot of people in 3rd line roles who are almost useless, thank goodness for these people because without them I wouldn't of done as well as I have done.

    Just me 2 pence ramblings, its been a long day, appologies if its not my best english :rolleyes: bed time for jk :biggrin
     
    Certifications: BSc (Hons), HND IT, HND Computing, ITIL-F, MBCS CITP, MCP (270,290,291,293,294,298,299,410,411,412) MCTS (401,620,624,652) MCSA:Security, MCSE: Security, Security+, CPTS, VCP4, CCA (XenApp6.5), MCSA 2012, VCP5, VCP6-NV
  13. jk2447

    jk2447 Petabyte Poster Moderator

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    Hope this chap works out well mate. Its good to hear that someone may get their job without tons of certs but would you not question why this person hasn't got off their behind to gain some certifications Modey? Seriously I don't mean that in a bad way, I mean in this day and age when we are all paying a fortune to better ourselves, sacrificing time with friends and family, what makes this person think they can do well going against the trend (you and Ken are well cert'd as am I for instance)? I hope I don't get jumped on for saying that, I'm just asking. I used to work with a complete moron who had none because he didn't have the intelligence or commitment to pass anything. That is not to mar anyone without certs or qualifications, merely just pointing out that some don't have any because they are a bit dim....
     
    Certifications: BSc (Hons), HND IT, HND Computing, ITIL-F, MBCS CITP, MCP (270,290,291,293,294,298,299,410,411,412) MCTS (401,620,624,652) MCSA:Security, MCSE: Security, Security+, CPTS, VCP4, CCA (XenApp6.5), MCSA 2012, VCP5, VCP6-NV
  14. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    There have always been a few employers who advertise that they are loking for MCSE's for entry-level jobs - this is not something new. But it has been my experience that these employers are usually not good to work for, as it is obvious that they are completely clueless about IT certifications... which typically indicates how clueless they are about IT in general.

    By all means, get the MCSE and apply for those jobs, if you feel you must. Just keep in mind that your MCSE will make you look way overcertified for entry-level employers that aren't asking for MCSEs.

    Exactly. And I won't interview an MCSE for an entry-level job... thus, you lose your chance to get that seat.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2010
    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+
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  15. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    This. Repped.
     
    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+
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  16. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Experience trumps certifications. Certifications + experience can make you look even more attractive... but that doesn't mean that certifications are required for most jobs. Some employers require them, and for that reason, I'd recommend getting them. But that doesn't mean that someone without certifications can't advance and do VERY well in their careers - they absolutely can.

    It's the same thing with degrees... a degree isn't usually required, but not having one can limit you to only those jobs that don't require one.
     
    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+
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  17. jk2447

    jk2447 Petabyte Poster Moderator

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    I agree mate but I also believe that the number of employers who are happy solely with what you can do, without the paper to back it up, are in decline. I compare this to the discussions we have on here regarding people going for 2003 or 2008 certs, ideally you would have both. I feel the same holds true for experience and certs, ideally you would have both. In my experience certain jobs don't rate certs, I get that, but some such as IT Sec and the CISSP for instance positively discriminate against those without it
     
    Certifications: BSc (Hons), HND IT, HND Computing, ITIL-F, MBCS CITP, MCP (270,290,291,293,294,298,299,410,411,412) MCTS (401,620,624,652) MCSA:Security, MCSE: Security, Security+, CPTS, VCP4, CCA (XenApp6.5), MCSA 2012, VCP5, VCP6-NV
  18. michael78

    michael78 Terabyte Poster

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    Couldn't agree more. Learning a cert is a great way to learn and to fill in gaps of knowledge. At the end of the day I don't see an issue with people doing CCNA or MCSA as long as they take onboard the knowledge gained.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2010
    Certifications: A+ | Network+ | Security+ | MCP | MCDST | MCTS: Hyper-V | MCTS: AD | MCTS: Exchange 2007 | MCTS: Windows 7 | MCSA: 2003 | ITIL Foundation v3 | CCA: Xenapp 5.0 | MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Administrator on Windows 7 | MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Support Technician on Windows 7
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  19. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    More and more employers are requiring certifications, I agree... but that's not what this thread is about. :) This thread is about more and more employers requiring high-level certs for lower-level jobs... which, in my opinion, is not increasing... there have always been a few doofus companies that don't know any better.
     
    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+
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  20. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Studying for a cert IS a good way to learn a product, I agree... but it's not the purpose of certification - not according to the vendors. :)

    In any case, I'm not dismayed... if more people certify, that just means more money in my pocket! :biggrin
     
    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+
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