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IT Certification Less Important Now? 459

lpq writes "IT certifications, popular after the dot-com bust, seem to be hurting careers now according to this article in the current issue. Guess employers are getting hip to the idea that those who don't have experience or can't "do", get certified..."
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IT Certification Less Important Now?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    UNIX and all will be fine.
    • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @05:46PM (#15240780) Journal
      "UNIX and all will be fine." least up until the point where they put you at a bash prompt and ask you to perform some tasks :)

      My current position as a *nix SysAdmin required that I take a long written (as in - paper and pencil) test on some rather complex questions involving Solaris, BSD, and Linux (e.g. - "write a script that will cancel all mail messages in a courier queue that is more than X days old and report/mail the results to all current admins"). Once I was hired, I discovered that most other people who wanted the job and wrote "UNIX" in their resumes would apparently come up against a brick wall rather hard if they didn't have the experience behind the ink.

      But then, you can find out in five minutes at a shell prompt whether or not someone really knows *nix, as opposed to a GUI environment where a candidate can guess-and-click their way to success.


      • by PygmySurfer ( 442860 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @06:00PM (#15240874)
        Real UNIX typically doesn't include BASH ;)
        • LOL!

          Actually, it does in a way (because sh itself IIRC is nothing more than a subset of bash nowadays).

          Though in fairness, it'd be kinda hard to run bash in a default Solaris box. :)


          • > Actually, it does in a way (because sh itself IIRC is nothing more than a subset of bash nowadays).

            bzzzt. thank you for demonstrating that you dont use anything but linux.

            Most linux distros take advantage that if you create a link to the bash executable and call it "sh", the bash executable will notice this and pretend to be the born shell. This does not mean that all unixen 'sh' executables are in fact bash.
            • "bzzzt. thank you for demonstrating that you dont use anything but linux."

              I refer you to the acronym "IIRC", and the fact that, as already indicated, bash doesn't come w/ Solaris by default (not sure if it does now since I've never bothered w/ 10).

              Otherwise, I apologize profusely for not being as anal ab't shell version histories as I apparently should be.


      • In fact, I just got done interviewing some odd 12 ppl (mostly from technosource; another perot style company if you ask me). All but one failed miserably. The one was interesting, but missed some rather trivial questions. I used to love interviewing ppl, but now I see lots of lies coming out. At my prior job, we interviewed soemthing like 4 ppl for a job that required some linux kernel work. No biggie; it should be nice and easy. All 4 claimed to have it; Of course, 3 of them could not figure out how to cod
      • by zerocool^ ( 112121 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @07:02PM (#15241290) Homepage Journal

        That is a little silly, man. I mean, I don't know how to do that, but I do know where to look. Knowing where to find answers is the most vital part of being a sysadmin in the linux/unix world, because you can never know everything, and every company has their own special way of doing things.

        It's the same thing about programming. Learning to program, and learning how to program in XYZ are two different things. T
        • by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @08:11PM (#15241725) Journal
          I remember when I got my first web development job. I had the skills but no experience, and a piece of paper from a closed school in another country. The interview consisted of 10 minutes of chatting, after which they asked me to implement a simple web app that did reads, inserts, updates and deletes on a database. I asked if they minded me using the reference bookshelf in the process, as I was a little rusty, and it wasn't a problem. I skimmed through the books, refreshed my memory, and had the thing built in about twenty minutes... it wasn't particularly challenging, particularly when I had the books on hand.

          I was the last of seven applicants, and the only one without a university degree in computer science. I was also the only one to complete the project. From what I was told, it took all the other applicants with their certifications at least 6 hours to not succeed in a simple task that they weren't familiar with. I got hired on the spot.

          Certifications don't mean shit. If I was hiring someone, I'd be looking at their project experience. What I'd be looking for is a series of successful projects that were NOT all the same. THAT is what demonstrates your capacity to fix problems.
        • by killermookie ( 708026 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @09:53PM (#15242253) Homepage
          I read somewhere the following about being a Systems Admin:

          Systems Administation is about knowing what you know, knowing what you don't know and figuring out how to know what you don't know. ....or something like that.
      • But many people who screen applicants are complete imbeciles.

        I have worked in IT over 25 years, and that is something I know for a fact.
  • by yagu ( 721525 ) * <> on Monday May 01, 2006 @05:28PM (#15240614) Journal

    There is nothing in the article stating IT certifications are hurting careers. To summarize the real article:

    • some certifications have lost value in the market (MCDST, CISA, NCDE, MCNE, CNA)
    • some certifications have gained value (SCNP, CISM, MCT)
    • companies are also beginning to pay closer attention to skills rather than certifications.
    • 14 certifications have grown in value, showing an 11 percent or higher growth over the last year (directly contradicting the slashdot article thesis)

    I personally think certification is bullhockey, but I don't necessarily hold that someone has a certification against them. Doing so (subtracting value for certification) would be akin to disrespecting someone for having a college degree, and that doesn't make sense.

    So, if you have certs, it isn't going to hurt you. What will hurt you is not having skills companies are looking for (unfortunately, the article is really a little thin on what those skills are. The article does list some very broad categories that are "growing" (whatever that means): Applications Development/Programming Languages, Project Management, Training, Webmaster and Security).

    Bottom line, as it probably should be, you're going to get evaluated and paid for performance, not pieces of paper.

    • The downward trend some certs have seen is likely just a question of supply and demand.

      For instance, Microsoft/Allies tend to publicize their certs heavily on the radio (citing $$$ and numerous career opportunities) and thus get more members of the general public into that career. Not surprisingly, a small glut in the market occurs.

      However, I also don't see it hurting anyone's career, you just can't rest on your laurels and eventually have to go for something more substantial or that will let you grow (lik
    • by porkThreeWays ( 895269 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @06:01PM (#15240881)
      In college psych there are 3 things I still reference on a daily basis. One of the biggies was, correlation isn't causation. You are right, just because the average person with a cert might make less than those without does not mean certs cause you to make less.

      During the last few years there have been many diploma mills out there. What these numbers lead me to believe are those with real skills didn't have any need to prove it with a 6 week class and a cert. However, this isn't always true. We get up to 5% a year bonus for certs at my job. So most people assume to take one or two a year for that reason.

      Certs aren't inherently bad. They are just a symbol of aquired knowledge. By that line of reasoning they are no more fundamentally evil than a degree from a state university. However, in practice, these short term training programs became about who paid most for questions closest to the real test.

      I could throw in a antecdotal story of someone having cert x and being dumb as a rock, but I don't really need to. We all know one. And if you don't know one, you probably are that person. 2-8 week cert programs were a fad that HR depts ate up like so much confection spread upon my naked body. It couldn't last forever. PHB's are starting to realize Microsoft certs are a dime a dozen, Novell certs are losing steam (they are changing markets too quick and their customers aren't keeping up with their training), and Cisco certs are still somewhat valueable. But what is valueable now (and will probably always be valueable in the long term) is experiance.

      Just a side note... Has anyone seen those Vonage ads on slashdot pwning the fad technologies of the week? It's nice to see sed and awk are still in style 8-)
      • Doh.

        Microsoft certs a dime a dozen? I've never known anyone who was an MCSD and/or MCAD.... I'm headed in that direction because I don't have other hard qualifications and I've gotten stuck in QA due to a leave of absence for Philosophy degree / TEFL stuff / etc..... Is it a complete waste to go get MS credentials, or is there something better out there that I could pursue?

        And no, I don't have the time or patience to get an aptly-named BS in computer science.
        • In general when people refer to Microsoft Certs they're refering to MCSE and MCP. I don't know any MCSDs either.

          You say you want to get out of QA? You can probably find a job in fast food and get promoted to assistant manager quickly. You don't have to persue MS credentials.

          But if you want to stay in IT, what do you want to do? Pick something. If you just want to get out of QA you're going to be stuck there for a very long time. But if you pick something your hopes are much better, getting certified is so

        • by porkThreeWays ( 895269 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @07:02PM (#15241292)
          Many times just the presence of a degree at all is good enough to not get your application tossed right away. If you feel you are already qualified for the job, the best thing you can do is write a quality resume and cover letter. In your cover letter, try and connect somehow with the reader. For example, if you think your employer is looking for a 15 year employee, you can possibly make reference to settling down and wanting long term employement. Also, make it very clear you are not only _willing_ to be trained in new technology, but that it excites you and something you love. It's very rare a given employee is an exact fit, and you want to make it clear to the reader that any areas in which you are lacking you will learn.

          If you need training as well, admin and tech positions are possibly the worst to train for. This is by far the most competitve market out there. Why? Because it mostly involves training and not that much critical thinking. Before anyone gets offended, I'm not saying admins are dumb. I do admin work all the time. I also do a million other things. I can tell you, being an admin is by far the most mindless part of my day. That, and tech work.

          The part of the day that I have to think the most is by far programming. If you feel that's a path you can take, go for an acclerated AS degree at a community college. You'll pretty much be guaranteed work in the US as a programmer. It's not hip or sexy anymore and there's a severe shortage of good programmers in the states. If you want a middle ground, go for some sort of AS degree in networking. It's harder to configure a Cisco router than being a windows admin, but not as difficult as programming.
    • by zerocool^ ( 112121 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @06:04PM (#15240901) Homepage Journal

      Not to mention, MCDST is brand new. It's the like easy-cheezy Microsoft cert. The consulting place I used to work wanted me to get a cert every year, but they didn't care which one, and they paid... so... whatever.

      The Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician cert is exactly that. It's what you'd want the kid behind the counter at the local pee-cee store to have before he works on your next door neighbor's computer. Like, how Windows XP Home works; how email works; how Office works. That stuff.

      The bonus to the MCDST is that if you're going for your MCSA (refresher: MCP -> MCSA -> MCSE, in order of knowledge and number of tests), you can substitute the Desktop Cert (which is 2 tests) for the "elective" test. The MCSA is Windows XP Pro, Windows 2003 Server, Windows 2003 Server Network Infrastructure, and an elective. The 2 Desktop tests are easier than the options you're given for electives (SUS Server, etc).

      And yes, an MCSA / MCSE is still worth something. People say you can just glance at a book and pass it, but the thing takes 9 tests, some of which are so anal that you do actually have to study, and it helps to have seen it in practice. How many people do you actually know with an up to date MCSE? I know 1. I'm sure on slashdot a lot of people actually have one, or work with a lot of people that have one, but when someone says "Oh, MCSE is a breeze, 10 minutes of studying and I could take it", take them up on it, offer to pay the $100 if they can pass "Exam 70-294: Planning, Implementing, and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Active Directory Infrastructure" or "Exam 70-285: Implementing and Managing Microsoft Exchange Server 2003". I bet you 95 out of 100 can't do it without studying.

      On the other hand, I am glad I'm back to being a Linux admin, where things make sense.

    • unfortunately, the article is really a little thin on what those skills are

      Obviously the most important skill to have is the skill to determine what skills companies look for in potential employees.
    • That's a tough one. There's no universal standard. Is a program that is feature-complete but bug-ridden superior to a program that is partial but bug-free? In theory, they are just as near to the end-goal as each other.

      Personally, I do agree that scraps of paper are best left for janitors. (I don't have anything against janitors, but they're paid to pick up paper, I'm paid to develop software.) That's not the same as saying that people shouldn't learn new skills. I believe that technology advances fast enou

    • Dodgey stats get made worse by really bad /. summaries.
      • Everything eWeek runs is crap!

        Look for their story on the double-free CVS flaw... the CERT advisory was from 2003 yet they wrote in 2004 that an exploit would be available 'any day'.
  • by blunte ( 183182 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @05:29PM (#15240628)
    Some companies like people with certs. Some don't.

    Some companies like people with advanced degrees. Some don't.

    Some companies like people in suits. Some don't.

    Do what you want, be how you want, and network. That's how you get a job (and more likely how you get one that you'll fit into).
    • by pHatidic ( 163975 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @06:18PM (#15240982)
      Rule of thumb: Anything that allows you to "level up" is out to fuck you, take your money, or both. Examples: School, military, corporate hierarchy, catholic church, world of warcraft, scientology, etc.
      • I just peed my pants... TY for the laugh! (emphasis on WOW as if it allows you to "level up" in RL, er I mean.. Real Life.)
      • by pla ( 258480 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @08:22PM (#15241776) Journal
        Rule of thumb: Anything that allows you to "level up" is out to fuck you

        Although I agree with you in principle...

        In practice, the Mauve Dragons of the Middle Management Plateau still yield before my mighty +3 sword of Spam Slaying (and other "useless" security expertise); My dual-classed L2AA/L4BS Geek-of-Many-Colors Resume still slays the trolls of HR; My numerous cross-platform Certs of Knowledge tame the most pernicious NixClone Daemons; And my White Male +30 racial modifier grants me (fair to the other players or not) a bonus to all rolls for find-treasure/performance-evaluation (nullified by any zone of EEOC or an attractive Half-Succubus apprentice competing for limited treasure apportionment).

        Now if only I could apply that to WoW, I'd study my ass off for a PhD in Auriculture with a minor in Ebaynics. But let's not get too silly, here!
  • by Quince alPillan ( 677281 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @05:29PM (#15240631)
    I don't know about the rest of the Slashdotters here, but I still see lots of job postings that ask for the alphabet soup of certifications. Now though, as opposed to around the time of the Dot Com boom, I see lots of "certifications requested" or "certifications a plus" rather than "certification required".
  • Great... (Score:5, Funny)

    by BumpyCarrot ( 775949 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @05:30PM (#15240636)
    So now what? All the new bloods have to wait until all the experienced folk die off before they can get a shot at the industry?
  • by foundme ( 897346 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @05:30PM (#15240639) Homepage
    pay premiums for non-certified IT skills grew three times faster than for certified ones

    What I would like to know is, does this growth mean non-certified employees are getting paid MORE than certified ones.

    If non-certs start with low pay, then it is just natural that they will get a bigger pay rise once they have proven themselves.
    • Re:Growth (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) <slashdot,kadin&xoxy,net> on Monday May 01, 2006 @05:37PM (#15240710) Homepage Journal
      No, and if you read the article it doesn't really say that certification is hurting anyone, just that they're not worth as much as they once were.

      I suppose if you factor in the opportunity cost of getting a certification (versus doing something else with that time that's more "real world" experience) maybe it could be thought of as 'hurting' you, but I didn't see any indication that people are paying less for certified employees than uncertified ones. They're just not paying more.
      • "versus doing something else with that time that's more "real world" experience"

        I dunno... when I was told at a previous job that I'd have to actually get an MCSE, I actually sat down and tinkered with NT 4 -- and later Win2k -- on my own time at home on a spare set of boxes. I must say that doing so actually gave me a lot more experience than I would've otherwise bothered with getting in a Windows server environment. It also provided me with a lot of solid and verifyable technical reasons for recommendin

    • There is a small flaw there though. Some employers love to hire people who aren't certified so they can pay them less. Then they want you to get certified but when you do, and ask about a raise, they say no.
    • My local radio station plays Microsoft Certification ads all the time.

      It's interesting to hear the avg $$$ value they quote change every so often.

      It used to say ~$60,000, but most recently, they don't actually quote a number at all.

      The ad goes: "The avg Microsoft Certified (whatever) makes [Insert sound of screeching tires]. You haven't signed up for your Microsoft Certification yet?!"

  • by punkr0x ( 945364 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @05:30PM (#15240643)
    pay premiums for non-certified IT skills grew three times faster than for certified ones in a six-month period spanning 2005-2006.

    That could indicate that certifications are less important to these companies... if they were all getting paid the same salary at the beginning of the six month period. But since we don't have that information, this study is pretty much worthless...

    "This is a clear indication that employers are not placing the same emphasis on certification that they once did.

    I wish I got paid to make ridiculous statements...

  • Like all silly blanket statements, this one boils down to the type of certification you're talking about. Some are just tests. []. Some actually require you to do [] something.

    Certifications will certainly not hurt you. Some may not do you any good, but none of them are harmful.
    • Not Necessarily (Score:4, Interesting)

      by flithm ( 756019 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @06:34PM (#15241099) Homepage
      I've been on the hiring end of the stick a few times, just enough to decide that it's in my best interest to toss away any resumes that have nothing but certifications listed in the education section.

      I think most people who've done a few rounds of hiring will easily note that people in that category simply don't have the required knowledge. Nor do they have the work ethic. A university degree certainly doesn't guarantee intelligence, but it does guarantee you that a person can make it through four continuous years of hard work.

      Another point of note is that I once worked at a testing center where they administered many of the popular IT certification exams. It became obvious very quickly that those certifications are designed merely as a money making tool for the companies that produce them. They give you an idea that the person you're hiring can memorize screens and their uses, along with a few technical concepts, and their applications, but that's all they do. (It's also fairly common to find bootleg copies of the exams on the internet).

      In the future if I see a long list of certs I'll probably just toss the resume away without going any further. There's no shortage of people out there, but there aren't that many good people, just more and more people with certifications and educations from silly little diploma farm colleges.

      I know that I'm not the only who thinks this way too... so yeah I'd say it could hurt.
  • It depends what you're looking for. If you're hiring based primarily on COST, go for the cert. If you're hiring based on PERFORMANCE- go for the degree holder. He'll cost you more per year- but less per project.

    In other words, this is the cheap labor debate all over again. Those who are short sighted (looking only at the money-per-unit-of-time number) will go for the cert still.
    • That's too generalised - I have seen some graduates (in Electronic Engineering and also in Computing) who 'have the theory' but were totally useless in the real world as they had never practised their art in the 'real world'. In contrast, I have seen college-level students who completed a mix of classroom work and work experience and ended up with 'only' a 'higher certificate' (UK) that could run rings round the grads.

      Certs can be the 'icing on the cake'. but provable practical experience can win hands down
      • Ah, yet another UK-vs-US difference. Certs in the US are usually vendor-based (like the Microsoft Certs) or trade-school based (like the Certified Ethical Hacker). The study for them doesn't even cover theory at all- just somebody's idea of what is needed to be an "expert" in that tool- most of it is about memorizing top-of-screen menus, keyboard shortcuts, and wizards. This in comparison to say, a real Engineering degree, where a student has produced two real-world-if-public-domain products (one with a
  • Re: IT Certs (Score:2, Informative)

    by Raisputin ( 681604 )
    I think it may depend on where you live. When I lived in NYC, it was more than enough for me to be able to demonstrate to them that I was able to do the work at the level that they expected or greater. However, where I live now, it is 100% about certifications and college degrees. Though I have worked at some large companies and been put in charge of multi-million dollar IT budgets through demonstrated experience, where I am at now I can't even get looked at without a Bachellors degree at a minimum and a p
  • by PIPBoy3000 ( 619296 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @05:34PM (#15240678)
    About ten years ago, I got my assorted MS certifications, taking 10 different tests at a cost of $1,000 total. I was new to my current job and found that while it didn't immediately raise my salary, it did get my foot in the door.

    Within six months, I was our company's first SQL Server admin. A year after that, I was the sole developer on the newly formed Web Services team. Long-term, the certifications were a very wise investment.

    Still, the bottom-line is that people were most impressed by my performance. Being able to study and pass ten different tests probably reflects on my sometimes insane degree of focus, rather than full comprehension. I barely passed my NT certification and only now fully understand the wacky security model.
    • "Foot in the door" is truly the operative phrase when it comes to certifications. By and large, they help get past the initial hurdles on the way towards getting a job, but once you're in there, it's performance that counts.

      Which, if you think about it, is the appropriate role for a certification. It says to an employer, "this guy has displayed X level of knowledge in Y subject," and gives them a better idea of your qualifications for a job. Once hired, however, they'll find out whether you're a slacker,
  • by finkployd ( 12902 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @05:35PM (#15240687) Homepage
    It all comes down to who is making the decision. I have found in research and university settings the people doing the interviewing and making the hiring decisions are well aquatinted with the details and technology involved. Thus, they can effectively interview someone and make an informed decision on how much competence that person may or may not posses.

    Contrast to many (not all) businesses, especially large ones, where techno-clueless HR reps or upper level management are handling this duty. They cannot tell the difference between someone who can BS a bunch of buzzwords and someone who actually knows what they are talking about, so certifications are their crutch.

    In hiring decisions I have been involved in, MCSE was sometimes viewed negatively. Not because of any anti-MS bias, but because generally people who cheerlead that aspect of their resume seem to have little else to offer.

    • However, the reality at most places is really in between. Due to the sheer number of resumes people get for a lot of job openings, they have to pare down the applicant pool somehow. There simply isn't enough time for the tech people to look at everyone. Therefor HR uses certain requirements to cull the herd as it were. Then the tech people look at the ones that remain and do the interview and make the final decision. Yeah, it's not the best system in the world, but remeber, for every diamond in the rou
  • I started out a little more than 10 years ago, with BSD, and the old Cisco and Livingston routers. I didn't know much about certification. Microsoft started doing their certification program shortly after that, and I don't know when Cisco started.

    Over the years, I've thought about getting myself RH or Cisco certified, and then thought better of it. I've seen people with Cisco certifications that couldn't route themselves off a one NIC host. I've met other certified people that didn't understand variable-b
  • by Karl Cocknozzle ( 514413 ) <> on Monday May 01, 2006 @05:38PM (#15240714) Homepage
    ...the value depends on the credibility of the certifying authority. Microsoft Certifications have become almost worthless because MS was printing money with the MCP program in the 1990's. Now the tests are (a little) harder, but the barrier to getting certified is still really low in the MS world. Result? MCSE is basically worthless to have these days.

    On the other hand, TFA points out the going-rate for certain Cisco certifications is on the rise. Not coincidentally, some of the Cisco certs they refer to are among the hardest to get. MCPs are easy to get, are more common, and thus do not denote any exceptional level of expertise.

    Of course, I'd rather hire somebody with a mile-long list of successful projects they've accomplished than an alphabet-soup of certifications. In every hiring scenario I've been involved in so-far, I have always put the people who have DONE something ahead of the certification monkeys. Of crouse, if somebody with experience and "hard" certifications comes along, it doesn't hurt matters.
  • popular after the dot-com bust, seem to be hurting careers now

    You just can't win in this game, it seems.


  • by brxndxn ( 461473 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @05:45PM (#15240770)
    When I was in high school, working at a computer store, I though maybe an A+ certification could help me get paid more and maybe look 'more experienced' to potential clients.

    Then I looked at the requirements.. It's a joke. To be certified in A+, you're basically acting like the sole set of computing solutions is the Windows platform. The example tests had questions that seem to attempt to lock you into the idea that only Microsoft products exist and all computer hardware is used to run Microsoft software. So, I decided not to waste my money to get certified.

    It looks to me that if someone is willing to waste their time to get A+, the lowliest of certifications, that they probably are not worth much for their time. I think about 80% of the average Slashdot readers could pass the A+ exam no problem just by taking the exam. So, imo, the certification doesn't say much other than you waste your time.

    I mean.. if someone put 'passed driver's license test' on his resume, wouldn't that maybe make you think he was 'special?' A+ is the 'special' persons' computer certification. It says, 'even though Bob doesn't look like he can function like a normal Internet user, he actually can because he's A+ certified.'
    • I mean.. if someone put 'passed driver's license test' on his resume, wouldn't that maybe make you think he was 'special?'

      Well, it's quite common to put it on your resume here in Norway, not because it's a big achievement but you got one. Maybe you're more crippled in the US but there's actually quite a few here that use public transportation and not all of them actually have a driver's license and employers would like confirmation on that. You get the same kind of sillyness sometimes with IT skills, where
    • by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) <> on Monday May 01, 2006 @06:44PM (#15241163) Journal
      Funny story. Once, at a job interview, I was actually asked if I was "A+ Certified"

      My response was, "No, but I don't really think that matters."
      They asked immediately (and in a snippy tone of voice), "Why not?"
      I shrugged and said, "I used to teach the course."

      If anyone asks for A+ for anything other than a simple benchtech position, they obviously have no idea what they need.
  • Skills (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @05:46PM (#15240781) Homepage Journal
    Skills and expirence always trump paper.

    But paper often gets you in the door for the interview.
  • I am currently in an undergrad degree program in Information Systems. I have been looking at getting one or two certs to suppliment my degree. The main reason that I am looking at getting a cert or two is to document my skills.

    But the other day I was talking to two people and it really blew my mind. He had all the Plus certs, a variety of MS certs, and was working on the CCNA. But what shocked me was when they recommended a good book. They said that I should buy a certain book because it would only teach me

  • Do people know anything about the OCP certification? Is there respect in the industry for it? I'm 2/5 through the process (DBA) and would like to know if it's worth the effort and $$.

    • Though I would say I did it less for becoming a DBA and more for being a developer or architect with strong DBA skills. I found the OCP has the problems that most paper certs do , and not everyone in the Oracle world respects them. But it's a good way to force you to learn the product (assuming you do spend time learning beyond the exam-cram stuff).

      Having said this, I took the cert before the course requirements were mandatory. If you're paying for this yourself, I'm not sure the courses are worth the th
  • In a sense, they do hurt careers. I am fighting for a career in the tech field. I have no certifications, but I can do the job better than every certified person where I work. Does this mean that those who get certified aren't that good? No, not at all. But what it does mean is that employers need to stop looking for the capital letters at the end of your name before they will consider your resume. Though I wasn't alive before 1981, employers used to hire someone based on a high school diploma. Now,
  • I'm no network engineer -- which is OK... I'm good at other things.

    I was at our colo the other day, and it occurred to me to wonder about some technical question, something about broadcast addresses, I think. Well, a fellow at the colo had just finished explaining to me that he knew a lot more than I did, because he was a "CERTIFIED CISCO ENGINEER."

    So I thought I'd ask him. I can't even remember what the question actually was. I just remember that as he answered, the stream of bullplop was growing wider a
  • by psykocrime ( 61037 ) <> on Monday May 01, 2006 @05:58PM (#15240853) Homepage Journal
    this discussion... EVERY time this comes up on slashdot, people make the same stupid assumptions and generalizations and trot out the same tired lines.

    ".. those who don't' have experience or can't "do", get certified...""

    Yes, I'm sure they do... but SO DO plenty of people who CAN "do." This is not an "either / or" situation people, where you either have experience, are smart/talented/whatever, OR you get certified. Some very smart, talented people realize that *some* employers do put significant weight on paper credentials, and choose to get certified as just one more part of the overall picture.

    Evaluating job candidates is, at best, very difficult... any tool that give an employer any visibility into a candidates abilities is a Good Thing, IMO. No, just being certified by itself doesn't mean you get the job... but if you have to weigh two otherwise equally qualified candidates, and one has passed a difficult certification exam and one hasn't, maybe that tips the balance. Or maybe you have a guy with 2 associate degrees, two relevant certifications, and 4 years of experience, vs. a guy with a bachelors degree who's just out of school... it's not an obvious choice... again, you have to look at the *whole* picture.

    Are certifications a panachea; for employers or employees? No, but to suggest that they have no value is just ignorant.
  • by Tim C ( 15259 )
    I've met a few people who have the certificates, but don't have the in-depth knowledge or experience to really cut it.

    I've also known a few people who have both of those things in spades, and still have the certifications too.

    (And of course I've known people fitting the other two possibilities)

    Contrary to popular belief round these parts, having certifications in IT subjects does not automatically mean that a person has no real useful knowledge or experience; it is entirely possible to have both. The submit
  • I decided once to go for an A+ certification. Figured it would be a snap, since I've been fiddling with computers since forever. But studying for it meant memorizing stuff like the stages of a laser printer print cycle (cleaning, conditioning, writing, transferring, fusing) and I soon used up my brain's capacity for meaningless crap. Oh well...
  • As an employer I've know this for years... as have those companies big and small I have worked with. Thats why 'Must Consult Someone Experienced' initials after a candidate's name always set alarm bells ringing.

    Jolyon (the only initials I proudly boast are for my Certified Unix Network Technician certificate)
  • I manage developers for a living, and for me, mentoring is the most valuable thing. Especially if someone doesn't have a whole lot of "on the job" experience. I would think IT would be the same way. But I don't think mentoring is really done much anymore.

    When I first started programming, I came into a company as a full-time "apprentice" programmer. I made *barely* 20k per year, but I was learning under incredible people. It was invaluable.

    As a manager now, I look to who people have worked with. Do I k
  • That tells you a lot about certification lol :)
  • Ok, ok:

    How do you get a Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician (MCDST) off your doorstep?

    Pay him for the fscking pizza, of course!
  • First of all, I have no certificate. Not a single one. Not even an ECDL.

    I still never had any trouble finding a (good) job. More often than not, I was not looking for jobs, jobs came looking for me. And more often than not, it came because someone who knew me already worked there.

    The reason for this is obvious (besides old fashion nepotism). During and after the dot-com hype, a billion companies sprung up that "certified" you for this or that, but the true value of those certs is quite uncertain. Mainly for
    • Re: rewarding people who bring good people into the company.

      Really. Of course, I just deposited a check for several thousand dollars (5K, after taxes), for just that, and it's not my first "hire" bonus. (grinning all the way to the bank, and halfway back home as well)

      If your company has such a program, it's a great way to supplement your income, help your buddies out, **and** raise the clue level inside your company. . .

      Win-win all around. . .
  • by Omega1045 ( 584264 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @07:17PM (#15241410)
    I think this "argument" has come up 10 times since I started reading slashdot. I had a recent opportunity to test what my certifications did for me. I believe they helped me, and please follow along as I explain.

    When I first decided to get certs, I was a college dropout. I had reached mid-junior level in a CompSci track, and taken a local developer job. I was working at a local company doing web application development. This was in the same small town (50k pop) in which I went to school, and was looking to be a well paid fish in a bigger pond. My route was the MCSD (Microsoft Certified Solution Developer) track. In 1999, that meant doing a track with 5 tests, two of which would be VB or C++ centric, a couple of electives, and the two hour "solutions architecture" test. Since I had done of ton of C++ in college but no MS C++, and had a lot of VB and ASP experience, I went the VB route. After passing all of the tests (self study), I soon found a well paying job out of state and took it. I was told that my certs got my foot in the door, and my interview and technical skills I demonstrated got me the job.

    Now it is 2006, and I have almost 9 years of professional software development experience under my belt. I take pride in the fact that I have continued my self education sans BS CompSci. Recently, things got craptacular at work and I decided I needed to look for new employment. I pulled the old .doc resume files out, and seriously thought about removing all of the old MCSD crap. However, I left it in. And it worked really well for me. I found that recruiters still look for this stuff. I cannot believe how many interviews started with questions or comments on my certs. It got my foot in the door, again.

    In the end, I am more than certain that it was my experience and my answers to some tough technical questions that got me my new job. However, I would recommend certs to anyone looking to prove their technical merit.

  • by puzzled ( 12525 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @07:34PM (#15241508) Journal []

      You can download most any current Cisco exam, cram it, and become a 'professional'. I got my CCNP and CCDP the old fashion way - worked, studied, worked, studied, worked, worked, worked, recertified, completed three of four exams for the CCIP, worked some more. Now you can just download 'em. Cisco resellers are required to have people with certain levels of different things and most jobs I see wanting Cisco qualify the position based on the ticket you need to have to get it.

      I've taken my first halting steps towards studying for the CCIE. Those words are in italics because I feel like I've just typed arranging a circle jerk every time I use them. There are so many guys six months into the process with no real skills and none of the talent needed who are circle jerking on their theoretical CCIE. Or worse, the guys who are six years into it, they've got their whole self esteem invested in getting those four letters after their names, and they just don't have what it takes. Its sad to see.

      Whatever the case, CCIE still has value, and my job puts me in front of everything on the exam except multicast and I'm slutting about taking multicasting jobs at half of market rate just so I can tune up for that area.

  • by walterbyrd ( 182728 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @08:13PM (#15241736)
    Does an MD guarantee a great physician? Does a JD guarantee a great lawyer? Does an MBA guarantee a business man? Need I go on?

    If somebody in high school (for whatever reason) wants to be a computer tech; 90% of the posters here on slashdot, would post that five years of experience is much more valuable than an A+ cert. Well duh, thanks for being so insightful, and all. But how is somebody supposed to get started?

    Practically every real profession relies on degrees, certs, licenses, and the like. IT has always been a major exception.

    Then the IT pros piss and moan about how their not treated like real professionals, and certainly not paid like other professionals. Imagine if a BSEE was optional for an electrical engineer.

    You can't just hire somebody off the street to fix your toilet, or clean your swimming pool. Those jobs require licenses, certs, etc. But, hiring somebody to write life-and-death critic software, whose only credential is that he's the PHB's nephew . . . hell, that's done all the time.
  • It is true (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HonerJetso ( 685034 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @06:23AM (#15243986)
    A number of years ago I was placed on a MCSE boot camp, the company was thoughtful enough to negotiate a cut price with the training company as a result of not including the actual certification but just sticking me on the course. At the time I was the Systems Administrator, 6 months prior I had migrated the Netware data centre to Windows 2000 as a result of political pressure. I wasn't too keen on attending the courses as I had numerous other projects running at the time but thought that it would be an opportunity. On my arrival I was greeted by three members of middle (non-tech) management from my organisation and a large group of Helpdesk operatives from an outsourcing company. The course bored me to tears and fortunately or unfortunately I was removed after 3 days to oversee an impromptu acquisition back at the ranch.

    Two weeks later the middle management returned, all having been certified. Upon questioning the certification I was told "It is not in the companies benefit to invest in your certification, you can do the job without the certification. Why should we invest in something you can already do?" The individuals who recieved the certification shot up the management chain and after a number of months left the organisation. I wouldn't have employed them to defrag a disk, yet their CV's were certainly much rosier than mine. From that point on I have always questioned certification, not one member of my current team is certified but they all have a proven track record and a degree...
  • by karlandtanya ( 601084 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @06:58AM (#15244049)
    In large corporations, HR doesn't give a crap about the facts; they want the documentation that protects the corporation from lawsuits. Legal protection is HR's sole contribution to the effort. Once that's satisfied, they'll let someone else (engineering department, IT department, etc.) worry about whether the person can actually do the job.

    In smaller companies (what's the limit now?--less than 25 folks?), significantly less restrictive employment reuglations apply. There's usually not an "HR" department because it's not necessary. Folks making hiring decisions can use more practical criteria, if they choose.

    If anyone beyond HR actually looks at the piece of paper, they'll be looking it as a promise. Whatever you present--degree, certification, license, etc. sets expectations.

    If you don't fulfill the expectations that your piece of paper sets, there's going to be disappointment.
    Once you're in, nobody cares if you satisfied the hiring requirements.
    Once you're in, nobody cares that the job is not what was advertised.
    In a technical field, once you show up, you just do the job. If you fail that, you can usually milk it for a year or two, by which time you'll have more experience to put on your resume (another piece of paper), and get hired by the next sucker.
    And, yeah, I know lots of guys that play that game, too.

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.