Posted by: Ed Tittel
Career planning, IT careers, IT certification, soft skills, Work background
In my previous blog, I started digging into a recent article from Redmondmag.com entitled “IT Salaries on the Rise.” Here, I’m going to continue that excavation by exploring and commenting on the section in the story whose title is the same as the title for this blog.
Let me start by saying that I agree with the basic premise that certification does indeed matter. This leads naturally to the first point in the article, which which I also agree–namely, that “…certification hasn’t had the cachet it used to have with readers in years past…” I’d extend this to note that certification doesn’t have the cachet it once enjoyed with employers and hiring managers, either, and note that all of these phenomena are tightly related.
The next points about certification are more substantive and potentially more interesting:
- that certifications help to prepare IT professionals for many of the tasks and activities they’ll encounter on the job
- that certifications provide a substantial indicator of intellectual curiosity, an interest in learning, and a drive toward accomplishment
- that certification does provide indirect benefits, in the form of better annual reviews, higher raises, possible promotions, and even occasional job offers
- That some certifications offer much more substantial earnings opportunities than others (the authors of the story don’t connect the dots, but my own experience and time in the industry convinces me that relative scarcity, degree of difficulty, perceived value, and outright demand for skills and knowledge related to specific certs all have roles to play in this phenomenon)
Beyond the content of the article, I’m still inclined to believe that for many IT professionals, certification is in itself rewarding because it also provides a mental (and sometimes even physical) break from the daily grind, lets them dig into new areas and technologies they might not otherwise have the time and opportunity to explore, and helps them broaden their horizons as well.
Though I also remain convinced that calculating ROI on any IT certification is an important step toward committing to pursue one, it’s perfectly OK for that return to be intangible and based on personal development, professional satisfaction, and outright enjoyment of the learning process that occurs on the way to more letters in your personal bowl of alphabet soup.