The Value of Certifications

Awhile back, I was asked two questions in Microsoft Learning regarding certifications.

How has certification helped you in your career? How do you see certification helping customers?

Here is my opinion;

Because I chose a different path out of high school and did not have the option to attend a computer science class back then, I found it harder to break into the IT industry even though I had sufficient, and sometimes more, hands-on experience with the technologies than some of the Computer Science grads.

By acquiring certifications in the areas I wanted to focus on, I found more doors opening and more opportunities to interview and prove my knowledge and skills. Many employers told me that without the certifications on my resume, I would not have been offered an interview.

Because certifications are changing and the image they currently have in the industry, I find that messaging is very important and those wanting to pursue certification, should understand the benefits and the counter arguments against the “paper certified” moniker that exists out there.

Certifications can serve to show that you have expertise in using specific technologies. In other words, the MCSD certification doesn’t indicate that you are a fantastic software developer but it does show that you clearly know how to use the Visual Studio IDE and that you understand the components of the .NET Framework.

If we are talking about an MCSE certification, then this shows that you have passed the test necessary to demonstrate an understanding of Windows Server 2003 and its implementation in a corporate environment using Active Directory, Group Policy and other aspects of the operating system environment.

By completing a Bachelor’s degree in computer science, you have shown to the IT industry that you have gained the foundational aspects of computer science and depending on the area you majored in, you may be well versed in software development, database management or networking and network administration tasks.

The problem with the B.Sc. program is that once you have completed it, you have knowledge of the current information at that time. You may have studied Windows NT or older builds of Linux for the OS portion of your course. NT does not help you in today’s marketplace where Windows 2000 Server and Windows Server 2003 are the predominant operating systems in Microsoft platforms. You need to prove you understand and know the newer technologies. This is where certifications can provide that “proof”, that you have indeed updated your skills.