Enterprise IT Watch Blog

Sep 16 2010   6:07AM GMT

What are certifications worth? Much less than you think!

Kevin Beaver Kevin Beaver Profile: Kevin Beaver

In our current situation with the economy and people going back to get their certifications to increase their value, I thought this post from my Security On Wheels blog was fitting: What’s your IT certification worth? Nothing.

The psychology behind certifications is interesting. A piece of paper showing that you’ve passed a test is a worthy accomplishment, but without practical experience and a whole slew of other skills, a piece of paper is merely that.

It’s easy to be book smart. Study long and hard, memorize the material, and you can pass tests, convey it to others through teaching and so on. But when the time comes for actionable expertise in the real world, such knowledge doesn’t go very far.  There are a handful of certifications that are exceptions to the rule (Cisco’s CCIE comes to mind), but they’re few and far between. Keep all of this in mind if you’re on the other side of the equation working as a hiring manager.

The reality is: Certifications can create a false sense of value. More certifications don’t automatically make a prospective employee more valuable. It could just mean that they’ve accumulated a lot of debt and don’t have much hands-on experience to show for it.

Bottom line: As a hiring manager, you have to look past certifications and see what else the person brings to the table. And as an IT professional, you have to pad your skill set with more than paper. Being successful in IT and information security requires so much more.

Kevin Beaver is an independent information security consultant, expert witness, author, and professional speaker with Atlanta-based Principle Logic, LLC and a contributor to the IT Watch Blog. You can reach Kevin through his website at www.principlelogic.com and follow him on Twitter at @kevinbeaver.

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