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What Certifications are Valuable in Today's IT? 185

ganjadude asks: "I am a twenty-something who took the CCNA classes back in 2001. College at the time was not an option, so I am mainly self-taught in the field. I was wondering if there were others on Slashdot who took this route, and what certifications they have found will best further their careers. Does college matter in the security field anymore, or are certifications the way to go?" What certifications would you recommend as the most pertinent in today's IT market?
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What Certifications are Valuable in Today's IT?

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  • A Few to Note (Score:5, Informative)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Friday October 06, 2006 @12:03PM (#16337425) Journal
    I'm going to list off the only ones I have heard my employer mentioning:
    • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
    • Oracle Certification Program
    • Sun's Java Certification Levels
    A few things I can tell you to steer clear of is Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer or Microsoft Office Power User. In my workplace, all I hear is people making fun of those certifications over and over and over again. I don't know if they are jokes but from what I hear, it's a stupid idea to pay for them.

    I think in order to get good answers from people, you need to break down what division IT is. I know the CISSP is very important to my employer due to a lot of our apps requiring major security. If you're a glorified secretary making powerpoints with click-actions then maybe "Microsoft Office Power User" is right down your alley? What job are you looking for? IT is a HUGE and now diverse term. It could mean everything from networks to programming to simply moving hardware.

    College at the time was not an option...
    That's a shame, with a name like 'ganjadude' I think you would have enjoyed college quite a bit.
    • A few things I can tell you to steer clear of is Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer or Microsoft Office Power User. In my workplace, all I hear is people making fun of those certifications over and over and over again. I don't know if they are jokes but from what I hear, it's a stupid idea to pay for them.

      (Emphasis mine)

      Just wanted to point out that this doesn't hold true for every employer. If you enjoy working for a PHB, go ahead and get those certs. In my case, the MOPU landed me a very decent p

    • Re:A Few to Note (Score:5, Informative)

      by MyLongNickName ( 822545 ) on Friday October 06, 2006 @12:23PM (#16337687) Journal
      I hold the Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer. When I went job searching, I had so many folks calling me that I stopped returning calls.

      Having said that, the credentials open up a lot of doors to interviews. However, once you get the interviews, you still have to prove the work experience and knowledge. The only places that accept credentials without verifying knowledge are companies I do not want to work for.

      Bottom line: Certifications help you to rise to the top in the first cut. Work experience, personal skills get you through the second cut. In depth knowldge gets you the job. Business skills get you the promotions.

      Ignore the certs if you want, but you'll have a harder time getting the interviews.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Ignore the certs if you want, but you'll have a harder time getting the interviews.

        I been in a few contracting situations where I show up with bunch of technicians to do a one-day job and I got treated with more respect since I was only the one who had certifications. Then again, maybe it was my ability to read the instructions. One place was doing a Token Ring to Ethernet network conversion. Each tech was supposed to remove the Token Ring cable and plug the Ethernet cable into the motherboard NIC. The t
        • by masdog ( 794316 )
          That has nothing to do with certifications and everything to do with working with idiots.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mattwarden ( 699984 )
      People make fun of MCSD? I don't know where you work, but I work at one of the 'Big Six' consulting firms, and this is about as untrue as it comes. We do .NET and J2EE development in our custom development practice. Surprisingly, no one cares about J2EE certifications. MCSD is big, though.

      In our architecture and infrastructure practice, certifications are huge (and probably required, although don't quote me on that). So if you are going into networking, make sure you do the typical certs (A+, etc.) That is
      • Re:A Few to Note (Score:4, Interesting)

        by zoomshorts ( 137587 ) on Friday October 06, 2006 @12:44PM (#16338025)
        I WORKED in several shops where the 'managers' thought certifications
        were the best thing in the world. Sadly, most of the people thet hired
        with 'Certifications - you name the cert' were simply test takers.

        We replaced EVERY one of those people within 2 months of their employment.
        WE ended up doing the work THEY were supposed to be able to handle.

        They can line their bird cages with certs.
      • Re:A Few to Note (Score:4, Informative)

        by ahmusch ( 777177 ) on Friday October 06, 2006 @01:09PM (#16338391)
        Certs are important to your bosses, because they're able to bill higher rates depending on the alphabet soup on your resume.

        Such billing differentials may or may not roll down to your salary.

        They're only important to you as a CONsultant because you're less likely to have to burn bench time if you've got more certs, because you can be placed in different roles on different projects.
      • by AuMatar ( 183847 )
        People make fun of MCSD all the time. THen again, I can't think of a single cert that I haven't seen insulted. The places I've worked having a cert on your resume would be cause for immediate rejection.
      • Would you say the MCSD is useful if you already have a BS from a good school? I graduated last spring and I work for a company that would pay for the training. I like working in .NET, but I'm trying to decide whether (a) I would learn anything and (b) it would be useful to me in this or other jobs.
        • It would be useful, but I wouldn't pay for it. If your company is not willing to pay for it, then they don't value it anyway.
    • Microsoft Office Power User? That's someone who knows the correct syntax for asking Clippy, right?
    • > A few things I can tell you to steer clear of is Microsoft Certified
      > Solutions Developer .... In my workplace, all I hear is people making
      > fun of those certifications over and over and over again. I don't know
      > if they are jokes but from what I hear, it's a stupid idea to pay for them.

      The Microsoft certifications, in general, have really been devalued by people trying to cash-in on marketplace demand. But even the less stringent ones, like MSCD, have some value in terms of employment.

      But you
  • Easy (Score:3, Informative)

    by gentimjs ( 930934 ) on Friday October 06, 2006 @12:13PM (#16337539) Journal
  • by Ankh ( 19084 ) * on Friday October 06, 2006 @12:14PM (#16337549) Homepage
    A good university degree should help you to learn and reason, and will teach you stuff you don't want to learn but that will later turn out to be useful.

    In some jobs, especially in larger companies, there's a ceiling, you can't be promoted above a certainl level without a degree.

    And yes, if you want to be a consultant, the contacts and the prestige of being associated with a well-known university are worth an awful lot, like it or not.

    In computer security you need to stay ahead. Certifications use a course curriculum which was set maybe a year, two years, even three or more years ago and updated; with a certification you'll always be behind the curve, ever so slightly. You need to learn how to be on top of reasearch, be comfortable reading research reports and know how to follow and understand citations. So there's a whole cultural thing that you may need to be part of.

    Yes, all if this is vague and hazy, and all of it is long term. By the time there's a concrete need for it, by the time you lose out on a contract or are passed over for promotion, and realize you needed a degree, you won't have one :-)
    • by timster ( 32400 )
      A good university degree should help you to learn and reason

      I live right next to a university, so I see college graduates everywhere. I try to tip them well...

      Seriously, while some people learn how to learn and reason from their university experience, I'd hardly consider it the general case. In particular, those who are self-taught may find the real educational advantages to be minimal. The social and networking advantages are usually more tangible. That's why I have a problem with:

      In some jobs, especia
      • by Ankh ( 19084 ) *
        Yes, you'll see people who didn't make good use of their time at college, and you'll see people who did make good use of it. It's getting the opportunity that matters :-)

        When I went to university the tuition, food and housing were all paid for by the government. Probably I wouldn't have gone, otherwise. You have to look at the promotion issue holistically -- we need to reduce the cost of education so that a greater proportion of people can benefit from it. Fighting the "old boy network" and the idea tha
  • MCSE + A+ (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Friday October 06, 2006 @12:14PM (#16337551) Journal
    = 7.50/hr job at Staples and moving back in with my parents. This was back in 2001 when the .com crashed and I had to compete with everyone with years and years of experience who were laid off.

    Also I had no job experience in IT at the time and didn't go to college. I figured the certifications would be a way to enter the field yet I was wrong.

    I am older now with some college as I continue to go back to school and the labor market is improving. With minimal certifications you can work at geeksquad or some help desk position for as much as $14/hr today to start out. I now repair computers but this came after a few years of taking bad jobs and getting my associates. But get your degree if you want to go anywhere. Colleges today have a record number of students in them compared to the past. Employers are taking note and requiring degrees for everything. The babyboomer generation only had %24 of those with 4 year degrees. Today generation Y has %70+ attending college!
    • by MrZaius ( 321037 )
      MSCE and A+/Network+ certs do count for something. They shouldn't, but they do. If you have a CCNA or both A+ and Network+, a bachellors degree or x years of experience, and US Citizenship, then you meet the requirements to do IT work for the US Dept. of State. Many other governmental agencies have similar requirements.

      A+, Network+, MSCE, and RHCE certifications don't carry much weight with people who are really qualified to judge the difficulty of the examination process, but they do provide an easy way
      • by hdparm ( 575302 )
        You are absolutelly wrong about RHCE certification. This one is almost impossible to obtain unless you really know what you're doing, since the exam is performance based. You sit on actual computer and you're supposed to fix whatever is wrong with it (first part of the exam). If you are not able to, you don't even get to proceed to the other part - configure RH server as per given specs (this may include any or all of the DNS, DHCP, Email, web, NFS, users, you name it services/functions).
    • Re:MCSE + A+ (Score:4, Insightful)

      by SoulRider ( 148285 ) on Friday October 06, 2006 @01:03PM (#16338307)
      Yes but the number attending does not even come close to the number actually getting degrees. Back in the 60's I would say that the number of baby boomers in college was pretty close to what it is today. If "generation Y"? actually gets a 70% degree rate then bachelors degrees will become worthless and you will need a masters (already moving in that direction). It doesnt matter if you have a phd with a 4.0 gpa, if you cant do the work you are unemployable. My guess is the vp that threw away the resume because the applicant didnt have a college degree is probably worthless as an employee (probably the CEOs brother-in-law or something).

      I dont have a college degree, no certifications and I have managed to keep a job in the IT industry for over 25 years, by the way I work for one of the largest outsourcers there is. How? network (who you know gets you a job), learn (what you know keeps that job), adapt (do the job that needs to be done, not the job you want to do), expect nothing but give everything (expectations only lead to disapointment, you work they pay you, you are even on that account, a little unpaid overtime at crunch time goes an extremely long way). In the end an employer will value you as an employee if you add value to that company. And unfortunately adding value usually entails doing the mundane, boring and unglamorous work that, that company has to offer.
  • this is going to be somewhat tangential, and i hope i don't ramble.

    as a recent college graduate with a degree in computer engineering, i found it difficult to find a job (i did, eventually, but i had a lot of frustrating interviews). why? because the philosophy of my degree, and i've found its similar among the same program in different schools, is that i'm taught to be an engineer. i'm taught to think well, and to be able to learn easily. i used a lot of languages, did a lot of things (with both hardwa
  • by sammy baby ( 14909 ) on Friday October 06, 2006 @12:17PM (#16337597) Journal
    (Note and disclaimer: I am not a security pro. I am a system administrator, and hold an RHCE. I also have a college degree, although I took a good long time to finish it up.)

    The CISSP [] is pretty much considered the gold standard of security generalist certifications. CISSPs rarely hurt for jobs for long.

    If you're interested in something Linux related, you may want to look at Red Hat's Certified Security Specialist program []. To get it, you need to complete the RHCE first (which looks good on a resume in and of itself), followed by an additional three exams covering network security, distributed authentication, and SELinux. Each exam is offered by itself, or on day five following a 4-day intensive course. Not exactly for the faint of heart, though, so if you're focusing on network level security without a lot of system administration, you'll probably want to give it a miss.
    • Most CISSP's I've encountered have been buzzword-spouting chimps. They're all about process and procedure, and making someone else do any actual work. Their chief function is to tell you why whatever you're doing is "insecure", at which point they get an attaboy from Management, and you get to double your workload.
      • At my work place I work as a software developer, and recently the management has been so very conserned about processes. So we have to follow a scaled down version of RUP. OK, some kind of structure of the development process is nice (filled with acronyms, and an endless sequence Powerpoint slides).

        Now, let me tell why I'm very sceptical of this: We do not have a working bug tracking system (be it an application or paper based). In bug trackin I include the entire process ;-) of reporting it, evaluate/cla

        • Heh. I note that you say "scaled down version of RUP," which is good, because if you were using all of it, you might have been cited for failing to create the appropriate "post to community discussion site use case scenario artifact inventory," or something. Come to think of it, I don't know anyone who uses "vanilla RUP." You either cut things out, or it's completely intractable.

          As for the bug tracking thing... are you guys using any of the Rational toolset? If you are, I predict that it's only a matter of
          • We are not using Rational toolset, or any similar tool. Use of unversioned Microsoft Word documents with a homungus amount of acronyms is mandatory...
            • We are not using Rational toolset, or any similar tool. Use of unversioned Microsoft Word documents with a homungus amount of acronyms is mandatory...

              Phew! That's lucky, then. Off you go.
      • Most CISSP's I've encountered have been buzzword-spouting chimps. They're all about process and procedure, and making someone else do any actual work. Their chief function is to tell you why whatever you're doing is "insecure", at which point they get an attaboy from Management, and you get to double your workload.

        Right. Which is why they're always in demand: anything that's wrong is never their fault. :)

        More seriously, that's part of the nature of the beast. They're usually brought in as auditors for big o

      • by Metzli ( 184903 )
        Not all of us. I actually do the actual firewall, IDS, pen testing, etc. work. I tell you why something is insecure, but I'm expected to help fix it.
    • by mbstone ( 457308 )
      Amen brother. A CISSP, you can take it to the bank.
  • I have been programming going on 10 years now, the last 4 or 5 mainly doing .NET C#/VB.NET stuff. I had this exact discussion with some other programmers the other day, and my boss chimed in as well. The general consensus was, if you are programming, certificates are about worthless in the MS world. My boss mentioned that not only does he not really care if someone is certified or not, he has noticed that those with certifications tend to not have the same amount of 'real world' knowledge as someone who is.
  • ...being certifiably insane helps you reach that coveted IT "prima donna" status.
  • No way to know (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mungtor ( 306258 ) on Friday October 06, 2006 @12:18PM (#16337621)
    In my experience, it depends on what your prospective employers are looking for.

    Me, I'm a UNIX admin with a MS in Engineering, no certifications and completely self taught. I've never (knock on wood) been out of a job, and right now I'm working with a bunch of people who put more value on what I could do and how I worked with a team than what certifications I (don't) have.

    A friend of mine is a great Windows admin. He knows his Active Directory stuff well and all the arcane Exchange best practices like the back of his hand. He has multiple MS certs and works in a shithole. The last place he interviewed at, everybody on the team loved him but when his resume got to the VP he threw it away because he doesn't have a college degree. Threw it away. Over the objections of all the people who actually talked to him.

    So, given that, gather a few of the cheaper certifications you can to get your foot in the door with the ignorant. They won't impress people who really know what the story is, but it will get you in the door to talk to them and impress them with what you really know.
    • he last place he interviewed at, everybody on the team loved him but when his resume got to the VP he threw it away because he doesn't have a college degree. Threw it away. Over the objections of all the people who actually talked to him.

      But he's probably better off for it. Seems to me that the VP is obviously someone who doesn't value the input of his staff, and doesn't make sure he has the best information before making a decision. Not the kind of person I'd want to work under (though I'm in that boat a

      • by mungtor ( 306258 )
        It's always good to put the best spin you can on it, but he really wanted that job. He could have been part of a team of 4 instead of a one-man show, always on call, etc, etc. And the people he works for now are no better really.
      • "Seems to me that the VP is obviously someone who doesn't value the input of his staff, and doesn't make sure he has the best information before making a decision."

        It also seems that there are a few people, who because they DO have a degree, look down on those who have the relevant experience in the field but do not have a degree.

        Seems to be either a case of class ego (they consider people without degrees "less worthy" of employment) or a misplaced sense of value.

        I mean i can understand that earning a degre
    • Both that and the opposite (similar situation except instead of certs, multiple degrees - still having everyone in person that interviews you like you but HR throwing away your resume because of no certs) piss me off to no end.
      Although in my case, most times I don't even get a chance to get an interview and I'm stuck in a rather crappy job.
  • That's the degree you need now to get a job in that field. :)
  • Unless there's a course these days that specifically covers outsourcing techniques, take a look at the management courses.
  • A lot of really good certs have been mentioned here, and most of them will help you get a really great job. I just want to point out that there are a lot of people with the "big" certs (like Cisco stuff) that aren't nearly as competent as their certs claim they are. Grabbing a few smaller certs as well can pad out your resume a bit and help you stand out above the guys who just study to the test.

    I have a friend who won't hire anyone, not even a database admin, unless they have an A+ cert (or something eqiva
    • by crossmr ( 957846 )
      and if that was his philosophy, I wouldn't take a job from him. I've seen way too many people with an A+ who think they have a clue and ultimately don't know A from B.
      If I have an MCSA, CCNP, Linux+, Security+, Server+ and some company wants to piss and moan about my not having an A+, I'll go elsewhere. But then I do live in a worker's market right now.
  • by otacon ( 445694 ) on Friday October 06, 2006 @12:29PM (#16337769)
    Personally I never had a desire to go to college. I started working at an ISP when I was 15 due to my desire to learn, not to mention Linux experience. I've had my share of crappy IT jobs working at a repair shop, or what have you. However all of that served as a good learning experience. I am 22 and currently hold a CCNA and MCP (I only did MCP because my ex-employer had an MCSE and I bet him I could pass an MCP without studying, and I won) I currently work in an environment where everyone else has a bachelor's or better. I'm a Network Engineer, dealing in a large enterprise Cisco network, I make about 25/hour when you break it all down without ever setting foot in a college. I'm not saying a degree is not the way to go, but it's not the only way to go.
    • I am sure that it ispossible to be successful in IT without a college degree. But suppose you decide you want to do something else? Your work skills will be worth zippo. Not to mention that there are a lot of quality of life plusses that you gain from attending college - there are many things in life that college can teach you to appreciate that are not part of what you get from job experience.

      I consider the time I spent in college to be very valuable - it opens many doors for me, it helped me with two care
  • Have any or all of them and $0.75 and you might be able to buy a cup of coffee at 7-Eleven. Seriously, I have a few, didn't pay for them myself, and wouldn't ever pay my own money for them, nor would I pay for one of my employees to go waste time there.

    If you missed the Dilbert about, 'I summon the powers of certification'... go find it, it hit this right on the nose.

    Hands on, reading the f*ing manual, figuring it out in YOUR network situation, calling tech support, etc. is better, cheaper and more worthwh
  • Depends on what field in IT you want to specialize... (this would have been helpful if you said more than you took the CCNA).

    Want to further your DBA career... look to Oracle/IBM

    Networking.. CCIE and it's various flavors (R&S, Security, SP, VOIP, SAN). IMHO this is one of the best as it requires you to pass a LAB exam in addition to the written. (BTW, the lab used to be TWO days and if you didn't pass the first day, you couldn't come back. Also, proctors would often 'break' your setup during lunch :)
  • Does college matter in the security field anymore, or are certifications the way to go?

    Let me put it this way - College won't teach you to think like a geek. It gives someone who already has the right mindset a huge toolbox with which to work. If you need to ask "should I go to college or take a cert", go to college.

    That said, you can still graduate college an idiot. Even in the engineering disciplines. Certs demonstrate to a potential employer that a particular group has accepted your proficiency
    • by Aladrin ( 926209 )
      Well, isn't that like saying 'Would I learn more in 4 years or 3 months?' Of course the 4 yr degree is going to hold more clout and you'll learn more.

      I think the real question is 'Can I get away with just certs, or do I -need- a college degree?'

      I definitely agree that colleges don't teach people to think like a geek. But then, they couldn't teach me to think like an artist either, so it's all relative. 'How to solve problems' and 'How to be creative/artistic' have got to be the hardest things to teach, e
  • by Foofoobar ( 318279 ) on Friday October 06, 2006 @12:36PM (#16337897)
    The only people I know who get certified are those who feel they need something to prove they can walk the walk. This usually comes out when you ask then to talk the talk. Mainly a certification only helps those who need help; those who know what they are talking about and know what they are doing rarely get certification and generally don't need them. At least this is from all the interviews I have been in. It's usually experience that is the big qualifier and not certifications.
    • by xappax ( 876447 )
      those who know what they are talking about and know what they are doing rarely get certification and generally don't need them.

      I dunno, it seems like if you submitted a resume that said:

      "I'm new to the computer industry, but I'm such a totally confident, skilled, and versatile programmer that I didn't go to college or even bother to get any certifications!"

      That wouldn't fly too well. Employers usually want some kind of third-party verification that an applicant knows what they're doing. A cert can
      • It's usually more like "Hi I'm certified in this and that and this and that and this and have 6 months experience" vs "Hi, I've worked in the idustry for the last 8 yrs doing exactly what you are doing". These are the resumes I tend to see and the poin I was making. If you have to have a piece of paper saying you know something, you probably don't know it that well. It's the difference between spending 8 years to get that PHD and 8 years in the industry; that piece of paper from your college sure is nice b
    • When I'm interviewing somebody for a position they do have to have something to prove. A cert, depending on which cert, lends a little 3rd party credibility to that. But you're still going to have to convince me. Certs also help where you end up in the pile, If I'm interviewing you for a J2EE position, the bozo with the SCBCD and/or SCWSCD will end up higher in the pile than somebody with similar qualifications. So I don't know where you want to end up in the stack or how competitive you are for jobs, but a

    • On the technical side, I tend to agree with you that people pushing their certs are usually the people who can't push something experience. But that isn't necessarily a Bad Thing -- e.g., I had many years of experience as a C developer before migrating to Java. Sun certs showed that I was making a serious effort to transition, not just grabbing a copy of "Teach Yourself Java in 24 Hours" and assuming that that was enough.

      But businesses are not driven by the techies.

      HR? They have no way to prioritize the
  • by cornjones ( 33009 ) on Friday October 06, 2006 @12:37PM (#16337925) Homepage
    I have no certs but here is what I find:

    Certs are a nice bump when the guy looking doesn't know what they need at all. College is useful b/c it shows you can complete a long term project. Good professional projects are their own certification (another reason I like project work). Being able to speak lucidly on working X problems through with Y technology and Z constraints is the most useful point to any employer and many will recognize that.

    That said, if you don't know what you want to do, certs show that you know the domain of a technology. MS certs are not as useless as they used to be and are probably the most marketable. Just, never, never, never put your certifications at the top of your resume. As a rule of thumb, if the certs are the thing you are most proud of, I don't need to read the rest.

  • "I am a twenty-something who took the CCNA classes back in 2001. ... Does college matter in the security field anymore ,or are certifications the way to go?"

    You got a CCNA 5 years ago and feel that qualifies you to work in the security field?

    The short answer is that college does matter. Often, the stuff you learn in college doesn't matter but if you want to work in the corporate world then people like to see that piece of paper. Also, the CISSP is the hot cert to get now. Keep in mind that it has many prere
  • by PaulMorel ( 962396 ) on Friday October 06, 2006 @12:46PM (#16338061)

    Most of these posts are utter nonsense. If you have a college degree, even if it's not in the branch of technology that you're applying for, and even if you didn't go to the best college, it doesn't matter what certifications you have. The only thing that matters is WHO you know.

    If you have been friendly to recruiters, to professors, and to peers/colleagues, then one of them will suggest you for a job, and you will get it, no matter how unqualified you are. I speak from experience. Why?

    Because a smart person can be trained to do anything, but a jerk will always be a jerk (for the most part). If an employer can find out that you aren't a jerk ahead of time, then you're gravy.

    I worked as musician when I came out of a good college with my CS degree. I finally broke into CS because the guy I was interviewing with happened to have been a poker buddy of my father's ... 15 years ago. Major coincidence, but since my father had a good rep, he thought that I would be ok too. In less than 2 years following that, my salary went up by $15k.

    So, quit worrying about your certification, nerds. Worry about your people skills.

  • Not sure about this, because I've never had a resume come through that did it, but this has been my thinking for some time: Apologize for your certs.

    Lower-end certs hurt you with techies. Most of us think that the lower-end certs are goten by people who cannot get jobs, and people who cannot get jobs are people who don't blow away prosspective employers or have working friends who can help them in, or who do have working friends whom they do not impress.

    That means, if you have a cert in A+ or Security+ or
  • Every position requires a degree. No positions even mention certs.

    I have no certs, nor am I interested in them. I have 2 degrees, a BSCS and an MBA.

    The only guy around here who had a bunch of certs also had a degree, and ended up on Dateline. Now he is waiting for his court case to come up, and he doesn't work here anymore.

    So, as far as we are concerned ---> Certs = loser

  • The Cert of Hard Knocks.
  • by GuyverDH ( 232921 ) on Friday October 06, 2006 @01:48PM (#16338981)
    I am a 30 something, who started in the field in '86 while still in high-school. Everything I know is self-taught. Experience is the key. Too many short term memorizations have made certifications not worth the paper they are printed on.

    List your experiences, and areas on knowledge.

    In most cases that's as good as or better than college / certifications. If someone out there won't even interview you because you don't have a college degree, or certifications, then they are an idiot, and you wouldn't want to work for them anyway.

    I've been continuously employed in enjoyable and enriching positions (2 for the entire 20 year period). It took me all of 3 days to find a new position when I tired of the old company.
  • At least the Canadian federal and provincial governments love them


  • I look at CVs by the bucketload and the limiting factor on how many I can interview is without doubt articulacy and literacy. The American's aren't bad at all, at least not on their actual CVs, but the Europeans and developing nations REGARDLESS of first language write something in between 'semi-literate English with random capitalization and punctuation' and 'word salad'.

    The average quality of spelling, grammar, and above all intelligibility is actually higher on Slashdot, and I'm not interviewing for McJ
  • by plcurechax ( 247883 ) on Friday October 06, 2006 @04:20PM (#16341189) Homepage
    More knowledge and skills is just about always a good thing, but to most technical managers that have been doing their job long to have lived throught at least one failed project, knows that actually experience is worth more.

    The next most important thing is to understand the hiring process. If you are employed, look at the process itself about how you got hired, and how they hire others in the IT department. HR people hire differently than a IT manager, start-ups have different priorities than Fortune 500 companies. For a resume to get past a HR desk on an advertised job, realise it is one of hundreds if not thousands of resumes in the pile. The first cut is a broad quick cut intended to weed out the random and boiler plate submissions. Most IT managers want to look at no more than 20-50 resumes to make their own short list of who to interview. If you get an interview in my experience it tends to come down to making sure you did not lie, and seeing if you would be a good fit with the existing staff and manager. I've seen good candidates not hired because they were more like a hippie and the group had a bunch of ex-military employees already, so the manager wasn't confident that they would gel. A 40 year old security expert with a MBA may be past over by a 32 year old security manage who is self-taught, if he feels his job security threatened.

    I prefer (4 year) university degrees for two reasons: a) commited 4 years to learning about one subject, this weeds out a lot of people who just expect to be paid lots of money because they say they are in IT - for a career level job I want someone with a passion for technology. b) They have more general (theorical) knowledge which makes migrating to new technology easier / quicker for because in my experience they have a better understanding of the foundations of what the change is about, and are more experienced at learning as a skill onto itself. The candidate is not as limited to button-ology style learning. Neither of these are exclusive to university education, but in my own experience more frequently found in someone with a four year degree in Computer Science or similar area (Math, Physics, Pre-Law, Philosophy, Music, Engineering).

    For a computer security career, I would seriously recommend a degree, because it is a rapidlly changing field, including some programming experience, some business or management knowledge / skills, and you need on-the-job IT experience to form a well tuned BS detector (from vendors, managers, users, and infrequent attackers).

    For certificates, look at the SANS' various certs for an idea of what people are looking for, but whether they are worth the cost is another question I can't answer.
  • by bwcbwc ( 601780 ) on Friday October 06, 2006 @05:12PM (#16341883)
    ...seem to prefer certification of residency in India or China. And they're willing to pay accordingly.
  • Get a cert or two related to whta you want to do. If you have littel or no experience they could help you get in the door for that job. Build up your experience. Your next job will look much more favourably on 5 years experience doing x, then seeing those old certs you have.

    If you get 10 certifications, that may raise a red flag to someone who may decide you're just a test taker and not even bother with you.

  • The IT field needs more mechanical engineers actively involved in programming and CAD.
  • He took some classes. He doesn't say he ever took or passed the tests.

    Secondly, the CCNA is only good for 3 years, so if he had taken and passed the CCNA test, then he's 2 years expired unless he either renewed it or went on to a Professional level certification (CCNP, CCDP, CCVP, CCSP etc.).

    A CCNA would be just the first step, with the Cisco Certified Security Professional as the next logical step if he wants to stick with Cisco gear.

    Cisco spells it all out on their site: []
  • For the past 8 years I have been a contractor working for a large company who farms me out, focusing on database admin and developement(primarily web) and switch jobs a few times. Based on job descriptions you saw the following requests: pre-98 no cert needed. 99-2001 large amount of certs being asked for primarily mcse few in database and development. 2003 wide spread for databasse some developement; primary system admin needing it. 2006 far fewer requests for certification or very generic.
    That said I h
  • Security used to lack quality academic training for it, with some exceptions.

    Certifications filled a gap then.

    Now though, that is no longer the case.

    Many universities, including my own, have partnered with the NSA. []

    My professors have included the head of the NSA's red team, another senior IA guru at the NSA, and senior network defense people from DoD branches. I've met professors from other schools at conferences with the NSA partnership, and I was similarly pleased
  • When I'm looking for someone to hire, certifications don't even enter into it. All it means is you can take a test. Degree's are helpful, but really only to get HR to adjust salaries upwards. The main thing that most people miss are experience. I've had people who just graduated from college with an IT degree but their work history includes Papa John's and bartending - but they assure me they really like working with computers.

    My favorite is an applicant for a position we had - a student applied, very
  • I'm not a big fan of certs, having relied on being able to demonstrate my expeience in any interview. That said, without the certs, it's harder to get an initial foot in the door. I'm fine with that, since I don't want to set foot into a company that hires based on certs. I did take one cert, mainly because it was free since I was an expert invited to "test the test." Since there are only 200 people certified, it does come with some prestige. I've also heard from people who take it that it is difficult,

"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor