40+ Pros and Cons of IT Certification

The value of certifications is a widely debated topic in the IT industry. Can’t say about other.

There are many benefits associated with obtaining an IT certification. I’ll list some below. I gathered those within responses of my colleagues, comments in social groups, comments to the related articles.

The question still remains:

“Is the money and time spent acquiring an IT certification worth it in the long term?”

Some are strongly against certification, saying nothing can replace experience while others see it as one thing that can improve your odds for being hired or promoted.

For sure the differences are when we are talking about vendor-oriented or vendor neutral certification, beginner, mid-career or a professional.

Everyone has the reason set to be or not to be certified. For my CCSK I had mine 🙂

Let me generalize …

The points below are not applicable in 100% options, but some of them should. Just take a look on the employer point of view as of 2015.

When may you consider professional certification?

Hiring. Shiny resume

  • Certifications make a great first impression.
  • When it comes to recruiting the right people, certifications can (to an extent) ensure that the person in question has a higher probability of being aware of the fundamental concepts as opposed to someone without certification.
  • Organizations who hired a certified job candidate do not have to worry about training that person.
  • Gives people a quick and relative marker to your knowledge level in the subject.
  • it is a pre-requisite for certain jobs. when hiring manager gets hundreds of resumes, you are left with the mercy of keyword search for PMP, CISSP, etc. Your resume gets picked up in the first round of selections because it has the keyword in it.
  • It can help pre-screen the right set of people, but it cannot be a substitute for a detailed discussion or interview.
  • IT certification can help to get that first foot on the career ladder.
  • Certificates look good on paper, especially if you don’t have a lot of work experience.
  • Certificates decorating the resume can be great talking points during an interview. And the more you can talk yourself up, the better.
  • It merely indicates a level of mastery of stated theoretical content and should be used accordingly.
  • A certification should be recognition of a certain minimum level of understanding, and ability to successfully apply, the concepts and tools of a given body of knowledge.
  • Shows commitment to learning the subject.
  • Shows you can at least learn.

“91% of employers believe IT certifications play a key role in the hiring process and that IT certifications are a reliable predictor of a successful employee.”

IT Certification statistics 1

Promotion. Increase income

  • With certification, those who has less work experience and skills are liable to get the chance to prove their competency.
  • Certification is a good baseline validation of what was learned that can be looked at against employee’s performance post certification.
  • It helps people market themselves for professional growth.
  • Change and/or enhance expertise in the job stream.
  • Sometimes in order to get a raise or promotion you need to prove you deserve it. Certification programs can be the difference between moving up or staying put.
  • It allows to learn new technologies and build some milestones in your career path.
  • Is a way to obtain current skills that may be of greater value to an employer.
  • May add new skills to an already-established career.
  • Adds to the resources of the holder, may not know the answer but will know where to look.
  • Vendor, system integrators benefit from having certified people on staff.

IT Certification statistics 2

Self-improvement. Stay in the know. Personal goals

  • Encourages to learn material about the subject matter that you may not know or should know.
  • Study new approaches, best practices, look at something you can implement on your work.
  • It helps to develop the ability to think about the matters at all angles, hence your personality develops.
  • The core driving idea behind certification is to ensure a grasp of the fundamental concepts of the domain in question.
  • The more you challenge yourself and work to improve upon your skills, the better you’ll feel about yourself and your abilities.
  • Certificate programs can help update skills and refresh memories.
  • Certification helps increase your confidence.
  • You have a specific education budget.
  • Customers request it

IT Certification statistics 3

The Cons

  • IT Certification almost always has a limited shelf life.
  • Cost. Certificate programs still cost money you might not have.
  • Time. Many people work full time and have families which make it hard to prepare.
  • Relevance. Sometimes a certificate won’t help you get in the door or move up in the company. Know what it will do for you before you put the time in.
  • They do not guarantee a job.
  • Certifications are not as strong unless backed up by experience.
  • It’s not a substitute for real world experience, education or skills.
  • A person’s experience, skills, overall education and personality are worth more than a piece of paper that says they passed a certification exam.
  • Those trained only in a vendor-specific technology may be less capable of evaluating alternative approaches to a problem.
  • A vendor-specific certification program trains within a single set of technologies. It’s useful in the immediate sense, but less so in the broader context. In short, training through certification addresses an immediate symptom, while education gets to the root cause.
  • But within a few years at most, vendor-specific certification will be replaced by a hot new vendor and product.
  • The testing process is sometimes not inline with real world situations.
  • It proves only that the person is book-learned and knows what was on the test – not what the person actually knows or is capable.
  • You knew enough at one point to pass the exam which doesn’t mean you know it now.
  • Certification proves only that you have good short-term memory.

What’s next?

I do agree on the fact that certifications alone will not make someone a professional and that can’t be a substitute for effective recruitment.

Obviously experience and skills are worth more than certification.

But if you can learn a few things from studying and certifying yourself, why not do so? From an industry point of view, vendor certification provides a measurable amount of accomplishment and ability that college degree programs in engineering and computer science no longer convey.

It’s mean that a person is interested in investing time in themselves and advance the profession via continuing education and participation in certification programs.

Feel free to add more Pros and Cons in comments below.

Here on the switchonthebrain.com blog, you’ll find tons of useful information that will help you shorten your certification preparation, enhance your study skills and keep your knowledge longer.

Work on your study skills. Get ahead!