Are certifications becoming a “racket”?

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I have a friend with an impressive résumé and various certifications.  But he doesn't have a job. A+ Cert, CISCO Cert, Oracle Cert... ad nauseum. They cast a fortune.  Is it becoming a cash-cow and a rip-off? What do you think?

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ASKED: November 6, 2010  5:57 PM
UPDATED: May 31, 2011  6:12 AM

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Your friends first problem (based on the list that you provided) is that he hasn’t specialized in anything. You can’t be a master of all technologies, there is simple to much to learn. Does he want to do hardware (A+), Networking (Cisco, Network+), Databases (Oracle, MCITP), Windows Administration (MCSE)? If you have all of them you show that you are a good test taker, and that you have some knowledge of each but you certainly aren’t a top level person in any of these.

Companies have lofty reasons for offering certifications. They say that they want to ensure that there is an easy way for people to show that they know the product or technology, etc. In reality certifications are a profit center. If the companies weren’t making money on the certifications they wouldn’t offer them.

That said, certifications can be useful if you use them correctly. They won’t get you a job, but they will get your resume a little extra attention over someone who doesn’t have them.

You may think that he’s got an impressive resume, but if it isn’t an impressive resume to the HR people then he isn’t going to get in the door. How many interviews has he gone on, how many companies has he sent his resume to?

Someone with an impressive resume (like mine) shouldn’t take long to find work. I got laid off 7 weeks ago, did consulting in the mean time, did 4 interviews and got 4 offers. It wasn’t the certifications that got me the interviews (or the jobs) it was my well documented skills.

<b>Answer:</b>

Certifications help you gain knowledge in certain area and thus prepare you to do a particular tasks. Though certifications are valued by employers, they may not be sufficient. In order to excel in your career, what you really need is a Degree.

While certifications can get your foot in the door, a Degree can help you excel. People constantly underestimate the value of <a href=”http://www.cc-sd.edu/information-technology”>computer degree programs</a>; not only do they prove to your prospective employer that you have the skills, technical and theoretical knowledge and persistence required to complete this degree, but they also give you the training to successfully complete the aforementioned certificates. Maybe your friend should consider enrolling in a good computer degree program.

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  • Matt Mather
    IMHO experience and a proven track record counts for much more than certs alone. I have come across so many people who have passed exams using test kings and the like and know nothing about how things work in a production environment. At presents there is no mechanism to protect against these sorts of serial exam passing useless engineers either and this scenario devalues any type of cert. On the flip side though, a cert that has been achieved in the correct fashion is highly desirable to potential employers and as such is a must for any cv. I feel for you friend but also wonder is his lack of employment not also down to potential location, expected earnings and experience or lack of?
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  • Matt Mather
    .......and in answer to your original question (sorry about ranting), I would say that there is an element of them being a large revenue stream for vendors but they are essential.
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  • FrankTheTank
    Experience combined with a degree is good and all but certain certifications will boost the likelihood of getting hired for a certain job. Like if you put in for a Cisco job working with their voip they want you to be certified and is usually required by Cisco. It is like a perk to a resume it helps and I wouldn't write them off as worthless
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  • Shilpa Venkateshwaran
    it really depends..... if u have good knowledge and certification tat suppport tat knowledge.. then its a win-win. But there could be situations when you are now over qualified. So you really have to play with it when applying for jobs.
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  • FrankTheTank
    Yeah get certifications in what you want to do. Don't go out and get SQL certs when you want to be a Cisco guy.
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  • adelgadom
    Well, From my point of view it depends if you want to be hired for a services company, or for a final company. Many service companies looks for certified people, meanwhile final companies are interested in your experience and knwoledge. Also, if you want to be certified, get the certificates for the job you are looking, not as much certificates as you can. Try to focus on one technology, get expertise in a particular area. If you are a crack on a specific area, you'll get better paid.
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  • Subhendu Sen
    Shillu is well said.... Over qualification but less responsible job may reduce competency of any employee ! Also the time frame is factor and how u utilize ur certs also !
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  • Shilpa Venkateshwaran
    Adelgadom has a good point. No use in trying to get all the certification out there. It shows you are confused and not as focused in your career as you should be. Its best to have a career development plan and work the certifications in that are relevant to that big plan.
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