IT certification mistakes that you should avoid!

Discussion in 'Training & Development' started by JK2447, Nov 25, 2021.

  1. JK2447
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    JK2447 Petabyte Poster Administrator Premium Member

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    Hi All

    As someone who has studied for IT certifications for over a decade (wow I'm old!), I thought I'd share some of my thoughts around the common mistakes that I see, and that I've made myself.

    Not having a specific goal in mind
    If you look at my signature, I have a number of certs under my belt where I did not have a specific goal in mind. It felt like a good thing to do at the time, or perhaps I went on a course and decided to sit the exam. I did a pen testing cert years ago that was a waste of time in the long run, so I think it's important to think about what you're going to study for, why you're doing it, what you think you will gain. It will likely be because you enjoy the subject and it will help your career in some way. A promotion or job change. Either way, you need to get specific about why you're potentially going to put yourself under pressure, and spend your valuable time studying, if you want to get the most out of it and get a good sense of achievement at the end of it.

    Paying when you don't have to or paying too much
    This is important to me. If you're lucky, your employer will pay for your certifications and training, but if not, this can be a very costly mistake. I've seen people think that they can buy their way into a line of work, paying thousands to training providers, only to be disappointed with the results. I think it's very important to be savvy when you're looking at your IT Certification journey. Look for free resources. I work for VMware, and know that we pump out a lot of free resources, Microsoft, Cisco, they all do the same as it encourages you to get familiar with their solutions. For very little cost, websites like udemy.com offer many certification videos for very little cost. Never pay a lot of money without doing your research or even asking here on Certforums, we're here to help.

    Taking on too much
    I think we're all guilty of this. We've all taken on too much, not factored in pressures in work or out of work. When you're thinking about your goals, it's equally important to set timely goals so that you don't put yourself under too much pressure. If you rush, you risk failing an exam. If that's your money or works money, it's bad to fail as you'll then feel unhappy with your performance. It's not a race, don't rush, take your time, plan well and look at how many hours a week you can realistically devote to it. It's hard to know how much time you'll need but again, ask on here, if someone has sat an exam you're looking at.

    Finding quality resources
    This can be difficult, but you should look at this before you begin studying for an exam, certainly before you book an exam. If you find resources are out of date, or hard to find, this is going to seriously impede your ability to feel ready for an exam. Fortunately, vendors often publish a blueprint (that's what VMware call it) that states what you should know to pass the exam. Read these, see what resources you can find to help you learn these. Like anything, preparation is key.

    Vagueness in general
    Similar to the above, why are you doing this? If you have a Dev Ops cert, Cloud, Network, Java, SQL, what does that all add up to? Who needs to be certified in unrelated technologies? The common answer I'd say is almost no one. Someone who covers everything in a tiny IT department perhaps. For the majority of us, we have a specific role or area that we focus on meaning that your certifications should follow suit. Its fine to have Microsoft certs as you used to be an engineer, and now you're an Architect you focus on things like CISSP or TOGAF, but if you're going around sitting anything and everything, I think it's an easy way to feel like you've not got measurable results from the time and effort.

    Just my two cents. Your thoughts and comments are welcome. The final point that I wanted to make was that experience always was, and always will be King, but if you want to push yourself, test yourself, spruce up your CV to show how you're relevant today, then IT Certifications are a great way to do this. The vendors more or less say, if you pass this exam, you will know XYZ and be very handy to have around for a certain solution which many organisations may have spent millions on.

    Thanks
    Jim
     
    Certifications: VCP4, 5, 6, 6.5, 6.7, VCAP DCV Design, VMConAWS Skill, 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, CCA (XenApp6.5), MCSA 2012, VSP, VTSP
    WIP: vROps specialist
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  2. dmarsh
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    dmarsh Petabyte Poster

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    Dev Ops cert, Cloud, Network, Java, SQL, I do all of these everyday, I have certs in 3 of them, could had them in all if I thought there was a point to it.
     
    JK2447 likes this.
  3. Sparky
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    Sparky Zettabyte Poster Moderator

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    Good post – agree with all of the above :)

    For ‘not having specific goals’ I would also include timescales to achieve whatever cert goals are to be achieved. If not then you will be the type of person that puts “studying towards…” on their CV and never achieve the cert.

    Also with ‘taking on too much’ that reminds me of the classic MCSE, CCNA, Network+ and A+ for £x offered from many training providers back in the day. Some people would think that was a good deal with no idea how much work was involved to pass all of the certifications.
     
    Certifications: MSc MCSE MCSA:M MCSA:S MCITP:EA MCTS(x5) Security+ Network+ A+
    WIP: Office 365, Server 2016, CEH
    JK2447 likes this.
  4. JK2447
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    JK2447 Petabyte Poster Administrator Premium Member

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    Oh an important one I forgot. Check how much life the cert has. I went to sit a VMware cert in the summer only to find it had retired! :hurryup:
     
    Certifications: VCP4, 5, 6, 6.5, 6.7, VCAP DCV Design, VMConAWS Skill, 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, CCA (XenApp6.5), MCSA 2012, VSP, VTSP
    WIP: vROps specialist
  5. dmarsh
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    dmarsh Petabyte Poster

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    Haha, you want to retire before the cert, not have the cert retire before you.
     
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  6. JK2447
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    JK2447 Petabyte Poster Administrator Premium Member

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    Exactly! :handshake: Don't get me started on retirement, I feel old as:emoji_older_man:
     
    Certifications: VCP4, 5, 6, 6.5, 6.7, VCAP DCV Design, VMConAWS Skill, 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, CCA (XenApp6.5), MCSA 2012, VSP, VTSP
    WIP: vROps specialist

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