In the wake of a particularly contentious entry I recently posted on the value of SAP certification, SAP careers expert Jon Reed has re-opened the debate by arguing that SAP’s new three-tiered certification strategy can be of value to the SAP ecosystem.
The new tiers, according to SAP, are Associate Certification, Professional Certification, and Master Certification. Becoming an Associate is simply a matter of being tested, but becoming a Professional “requires proven project experience, business process knowledge, and a more detailed understanding of SAP solutions.” Becoming a Master “involves demonstrating an expert-level understanding of a specific area of SAP software and the ability to drive innovation and solution optimization through in-depth knowledge and vision. Certification at this level requires broad project experience, comprehensive SAP product knowledge, and the ability to create a future IT vision within complex project environments.”
SAP certification is available for NetWeaver, Enterprise SOA, CRM, ERP, PLM, SCM, Oil & Gas, Retail, SAP Business One, Small and Midsize Enterprises (SMEs), and SAP Solution Manager. Within each of these product areas, certification is available for applications, development, and technology, opening the door to everyone from development techies to business-level consultants.
If you’re going to get certified in SAP, there’s little point in getting the credential from anyone but SAP itself. However, the mere act of becoming certified does not immediately confer better career prospects on an aspiring member of the SAP ecosystem. The better way to approach the process, as Jon mentions in his entry, is as education, not only in the sense of learning something from certification tests but also, more enduringly, collaborating with peers at your level in order to improve yourself. Sadly, this message will go right over the heads of the tens of thousands of “freshers,” the term used in India for new technology workers, who see certification as a way to fool employers and insinuate themselves into projects. The idea is that certification allows SAP credential holders to vault past people with greater experience, which is why freshers will often pay more than a year’s wages for certification.
I don’t necessarily support SAP’s claim that becoming as Associate allows certifications holders to “Gain an externally-recognized mark of excellence that clients seek,” because it’s doubtful that potential employers are clamoring to see certifications. Experience, rather, is the name of the game. But on the whole, SAP’s marketing of its own certifications is fairly modest compared to the frankly deceptive practices of third-party certification programs operating in East and South Asia, where the message is that getting certification is tantamount to being employed in the SAP world.
In our credentials-obsessed world, it’s easy to forget that education is about improving yourself and making a long-term investment in your life and career. Sadly, people are more concerned with lying, bluffing, and cheating their way through the process. If SAP certification is approached as a legitimate part of an educational journey, it could be very worthwhile — and lucrative. But the get-rich-quick crowd will be disappointed, and out of a lot of money, if they mistake the purpose of SAP certification.
Demir Barlas, Site Editor