IT Career JumpStart

Dec 23 2009   7:42PM GMT

One Key to Certification Interest Levels

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

In a recent article at CertCities, long-time certification maven Emmett Dulaney makes the observation that Amazon sales rankings for certification-related books provide an accurate if also volatile cue toward the most popular certifications at any given moment. The story is entitled “Measuring Certification Hotness” and lists the following credentials as the top five as of Monday, December 21

1. PMP, which occupies 2 of the top 3 certification books slots
2. Windows 7 (which points to numerous credentials in the MCTS and MCITP tracks, to be sure, and claims 3 of the top 25 slots)
3. A+,  which is recently enough revised that not all related titles have hit the shelves yet, but which still take third place after PMP and Windows 7 topics.
4. CCNA claims the number one spot as I re-run the query this afternoon (12/23/09) and appears in 4 of the top 25 spots (see screencap below this list for my take on the query Dulaney might have used to produce this info).
5. CISSP takes 2nd place, but appears only once in the current top 25.

Here’s the query I posed using the Advanced Search in Amazon Books to produce the kind of results I believe Dulaney was talking about:

Query to elicit top cert titles (and interests)

Query to elicit top cert titles (and interests)

This is certainly an interesting way to gather information about certifications of interest, but as an author of numerous books who’s tracked sales over time on Amazon, I have personally observed that rankings can swing wildly over the course of a single day, and even more as the time window for data collection widens. It’s indisputable that the top rankings will remain focused on what’s hot and will ignore what’s not, but position within those rankings is less significant than it might appear. You’d need to build an application to gather this data at hourly intervals, then average and interpolate the results over a week to a month to get a real sense of what’s going on and how items rank. Nevertheless, it is worth knowing about, and using to your advantage when you see fit.

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