Certifications have been in the tech community for quite a while now. CCNA, ACT, MCP, MCSD, CompTIA+, CCP-V, and a whole slew of other acronyms are certifications you can get by going through specialized training and passing an exam (or 3) each vendor offers with their technology. You don’t need a college degree to get them either, but are they worth it?
I’ve always flip-flopped on the merit of certifications. Some have a reputation for easily being attained. Most of them require one or more tests, and those tests aren’t cheap either. Then comes the renewal process every year or two (depending on certification) which can cost more money and more time. With the ever increasing “github resume” (show me your projects and/or code contributions) and plenty of people earning degrees in computer science out there, it seems like getting a certification is a needless exercise.
However, there are a lot of businesses out there that use certifications as reference for hiring. A college degree definitely means a lot, but the varying levels of education can leave somebody in doubt. The CCNA standards are well known and acknowledged, and can easily serve as a baseline when you need specific expertise. There are also perks and a bit of prestige to be able to wear that “badge” of accomplishment as well.
…but are they worth it? Admittedly I’m still on the fence. But that said, if a person was fresh out the door into the programming world and didn’t have a college degree, spending the time to get a certification could potentially give you a leg up when your resume is still a bit short in the experience department.
With that in mind, I’m starting out a little later this month to get my MCSD certification in web applications. There’s a mixed bag of perk, necessity, and prestige involved in all of this. One of the perks of the MCSD is that it allows us to enroll our company in the Microsoft Partner Network, which gives us more exposure to potential clients as well as some MSDN licenses that we can use for software development. There’s pros and cons to all of that as well.
While my 12+ years in .Net land gives me a sense of confidence I can pass these exams (there are 3), the sheer “certification” nature of it all makes me a little nervous at the same time. I’ll be taking some “test prep” type courses to refresh my knowledge on what is expected on the exams and to make sure I haven’t accidentally been hiding under a rock when it comes to new .Net technologies.
Hopefully in a month or so there will be a nice little badge in my sidebar. 8^D I’ll keep you posted.