Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Certification-free zone

I have an opinion that doesn't win me a lot of respect among my IT friends and colleagues, but - there you have it. I'm not a big fan of certifications. Let that sink in a little.

Why do I have a problem with certifications? Because they don't mean what the industry presumes them to mean. In my opinion, all that the possession of a certificate proves is that you can retain information. Enough information to pass an exam. With all of the cram guides and books available for every IT certification exam out there, it only really takes good memory retention to pass them. That's a very strong assertion to make, yeah? I don't make it lightly. I have seen countless people get hired into IT positions who were 'certified', but could not perform the most basic of tasks or solve mediocre problems. Therein lies the problem. Getting certified is similar to other types of training in that it gives you theoretical knowledge. But getting certified is missing one vital component that is provided by regular school courses - practical knowledge. Lab time. Real world troubleshooting.

I do not possess any IT certifications. I never have and I probably never will. This does not appear to have had any effect on my ability to work in IT roles. Whenever the topic of certification comes up, my answer is the same. I don't have any, but if you would like to present me with a task or a problem, I will be glad to work it through to its resolution. Test my ability to do the work, don't ask me to show you a plaque on a wall. It means very little.

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