I got the following e-mail this morning from long-time certification guru and occasional collaborator Anne Martinez of GoCertify.com:
I am curious as to your opinion on the current state of the IT certification industry. From my perspective, I felt as if it was picking up a year or two ago, but a slump seems upon it again. It seems that most of the formerly active IT certification websites are largely idle or very minimally active. It is almost as if when the economy first really nose-dived, interest in certification picked up, but now as the economy has not significantly rebounded after time has passed, interest and activity related to IT certification have dropped off again. Do you have any insights on this you would be willing to share/discuss with me?
Here’s how I replied to this inquiry, in brief:
The short, brutal response is that IT certification tracks IT hiring and promotion/raise budgets. With little hiring, and even fewer promotions and raises to go around there’s little incentive for people to get certified right now. As the economist on NPR this morning said about consumer confidence, most people and businesses are still in “wait and see” mode.
To amplify a bit on Anne’s observations, I’ve noticed that CertCities.com is pretty much quiescent, and that CertMag.com is likewise pretty spare on posting, new content, and activity. But sites with a definite axe to grind — including, both the various vendor sites (Cisco, Microsoft, Citrix, Sun, and so forth, all with active certification programs) and the big organization sites (CompTIA, PMI, LPI, and so on, ditto) — have kept on keeping on during this same period with nary a hiccup.
What does this all really mean? Those who have their own reasons for you to get certified are not letting up a bit, while those who serve the market that consists of individuals actively seeking certification, and employers interested in hiring certified professionals, or steering their best employees into certification, are falling off, sometimes severely. And yet, certain areas where jobs available exceed qualified applicants — namely, IT security, storage, SAP, and other high-demand specialties — continue to go great guns. Draw your own conclusions: I’m confused, just like the pundits, prognosticators, and regular Joes out there. Sheesh! How’s a reasonably intelligent, decently aware guy like yours truly supposed to make a living in such turbulent times? Good question, eh? Now, only if I had some more answers…