Recently, I received a comment from a reader on my August 18, 2008 blog entitled “Understanding What Drives IT Salaries,” from an astute young reader named Ronald Moore. He observed that it makes sense to choose an academic computer science or MIS program that prepares students for multiple certifications as a way of jump-starting one’s assault on the workplace with both degree and certifications in hand. He goes on to mention earning a CS degree that prepared him for a whole laundry list of certs, including A+ and CCNA plus various Microsoft and Oracle credentials as well. Very interesting!
For those considering such options, I’d urge you to factor the certs mentioned against their age and planned obsolescence. Ron’s not in bad shape, even if he does decide to go after an MCSD in .NET or an MCDBA credential. But with a new version of Windows Server now on the drawing board for 2011, certs based on Server 2003 (such as the MCDBA and the MCSD) are nearing their expiration dates. It doesn’t make sense to tout preparation for a cert that won’t be around for too much longer, but given the sometimes glacial speeds at which academic programs move along, that’s a possibility that prospective candidates must ponder when choosing any kind of training program that involves certification, academic or otherwise.
I’d urge prospective students (and their parents) to quiz the admissions folks about how programs adapt and evolve to accommodate new certifications as old ones age out of the picture. I guess an outdated cert may be better than no cert, but isn’t worth anywhere near as much as a current one. If the idea is to help degree holders to get an edge into the job market, it’s best to make sure that the edge stays sharp and provides a way to cut through the red tape into the short list of “real job contenders” when the time comes to enter the workforce.