What Are Your Thoughts on Certifications?

by yosis
29 replies
I've heard differing viewpoints on certifications. Some developers claim they are entirely useless because most (if not all) are vendor specific. While some, swears by these tests.

For example, Zend offers the Zend Certified Engineer for PHP. If you're a programmer, have you taken tests like it or the ZCE? Do you feel it has truly helped you?

If you are looking for developers, do you favor candidates that have a certification in a particular language?
#certification #php #technology
  • Profile picture of the author Aronya
    If you're looking for a job, especially in the corporate world, certifications are important. If you're promoting yourself as an independent developer/programmer, those people who will consider hiring you are normally more interested in results than papers. They want to see examples of your work, not your grades.
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    • Profile picture of the author yosis
      Originally Posted by Aronya View Post

      They want to see examples of your work, not your grades.

      I agree. I find certifications most useful in the corporate world when the person hiring may not have a tech background so they look to entities such as Cisco and Zend to evaluate the candidate for them.
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  • Profile picture of the author unintuitive
    Originally Posted by yosis View Post

    I've heard differing viewpoints on certifications. Some developers claim they are entirely useless because most (if not all) are vendor specific. While some, swears by these tests.

    For example, Zend offers the Zend Certified Engineer for PHP. If you're a programmer, have you taken tests like it or the ZCE? Do you feel it has truly helped you?

    If you are looking for developers, do you favor candidates that have a certification in a particular language?
    There are two equally important perspectives on certifications:

    1. IT Managers - They typically do not place a lot of importance on certs unless they are high-level and specialized. Experience rules everything else, and education comes a close second. The best IT people will demand you can "walk the walk," so to speak.

    2. HR Managers / Hiring Managers - These people are often (but not always) clueless about what certifications represent. HR people are all about covering their butts primarily, and protecting the company if possible; the more "keywords" you can stuff into your resume, the better. This gives them plausible deniability in case you screw up badly. They can just say, "Well, he said he was Cisco certified. How am I supposed to know he would do THAT..."

    Do you need certifications? No.

    That being said, having a cert is not going to hurt your chances in the majority of situations. And, in some cases, having relevant certifications can improve how you are perceived by the people who are in charge of hiring.
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  • Profile picture of the author ehicks727
    If you work for a consulting firm, then you need certs. If you are freelance, then you don't need certs, but you need either history/portfolio or good salesmanship. If you work for corporate and want to stay put, then you don't need certs, if you work for corporate and expect to move "up" (meaning around, or up in salary with each new job) then you need certs. It's pretty much that simple.
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  • Profile picture of the author yosis
    Well said Unintuitive. I think we're all on the same page here. There is usually two camps and it just depends on where you would like to go with your career.

    Another interesting point is that Certifications may help you if you are pursuing your education and want credit for Experential Learning. There are many colleges that evaluate Adult learners based on Certs and Portfolios.

    I like the blog Who's Your Alma Mater? which provides a thorough listing of legitmate Continued Education programs in the US.

    Thanks for everyone's insightful comments.
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  • Profile picture of the author Adaptive
    There are two reasons to get a certification.

    First, as others mentioned, it could help you get a job or a consulting assignment.

    Second, the certification programs are usually pretty thorough about the technology. If you study enough to pass the test, you will have a good idea how to use all the features. Without the certification study outline, you might overlook some functionality.

    Technology certification does not say anything about whether you have good business sense. Or are easy to work with. Or creative, or good at troubleshooting.

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  • Profile picture of the author ehicks727
    I remember back in the early 90s, I got my NetWare certification. At the time, a cert actually meant something because only serious people were getting them. However, once everyone started jumping on the bandwagon, the cert meant nothing. There were just a lot of out-of-work people getting the cert with no real-world experience.

    I remember interviewing NetWare certified people trying to get a job with my company, and I'd ask them what backup software they had experience with and they would usually have a confused look on their face. That clued me in that they had no idea what they were doing, as installing backup is one of the first things you learned to do as a network administrator.

    Now that I'm in programming (moved out of networking into programming in 1998) I still see these people (again, usually laid-off, re-trained) with certs who couldn't write an app if their life depended on it. Thankfully there are companies who will train, but don't expect a higher salary just because you have a cert.

    I agree with poster above... people skills coupled with coding skills is in HIGH DEMAND right now. If you are one of those pompus butt-hole programmers, your options are very small these days.
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  • Profile picture of the author mywebwork
    Certification has it's place in the corporate world.

    In the 1990's I was both a Novell CNE and a Microsoft MCSE, I was fortunate in that I worked for the Alberta Government at the time and they footed the bill for the training and exams. The CNE didn't do much for me, but with the MCSE I went on to make 6-figures as a consultant (boy I miss the 1990's dotcom boom!). The MCSE was also a factor in getting this frozen Canadian a consulting position in sunny Hawaii 8 years ago, and I'm still here!

    Now days I work for myself and therefore certification is irrelevant.

    It really depends upon your career path. If you plan on working for a large corporation or taking on many corporate clients as a consultant then certification can mean something. But if you're an independent working on your own stuff or for other small business owners it probably isn't worth the time or money.

    As one of the previous posters mentioned certification is no guarantee of quality. Back when I was with the government we hired many people based upon their MCSE certification. Some were great, a few of them didn't know which end of the mouse to hold! Their primary skill was the ability to study for a certification exam. I suspect many of them went on to great careers in the construction and fast food industries!

    Bill
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  • Profile picture of the author tunasalad
    Certifications boost your confidence. If you can pass a standardized test for your subject area, you will feel like you have that knowledge down. You can always back up to your experience when needed, but having a cert on your resume cannot look bad, unless you've got like 12 of them
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  • Profile picture of the author hire_us
    Believe it...it really makes difference when you are working in a Company...also boosts your CV...
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  • Profile picture of the author SummitBloggers
    Most employers are only interested in your current skill set. There's a saying in corporate IT departments - you're only as good as your last project.

    If you already have years of experience, and a good code portfolio, then your skills will find a market. Otherwise, certs will help establish that you at least know the basics. I was an IT manager in the past and didn't care about certs, membership in organizations, etc. My concern was to hire people that could hit the ground running, and also fit into the existing department culture.
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  • Profile picture of the author hire_us
    ^^^^
    I totally agree with you.
    Then I think certs will be helpful for Freshers like me.
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  • Profile picture of the author o_brient
    Personally, in my IT career I have qualified in several disciplines, from Java Developer through to Certified Information Systems Security Professional (and a good number of others).

    Certifications are of course important - for specific proprietary software, they can be seen in two ways:
    #1 If the certification is for attendance, it can be seen as less credible than an employer would like
    #2 With examinations associated, a level of proficiency will help sway employer opinion.

    And more formal standardised examinations/certifications are given kudos too.

    All things being equal certifications will get you "in the door".

    What I mean by that is they will get your CV pushed to the top of the pile. They will not get you the job, how you perform on an interpersonal level with a prospective employer coupled with how good your references stack up will hold a lot more sway.

    Cheers,
    Tom
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  • Profile picture of the author garyk1968
    Personally I think there is limited emphasis on them, *especially* if you are freelance where because you are costing more its *all* about experience and nothing else.
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  • Profile picture of the author andreasnrb
    Honestly I don't think certifications are that great. Good reference and some example projects goes a long way. What looks better reference project or a certification?
    In my experience my completed projects have gained more attention than my education.
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  • Profile picture of the author Safade Billy
    Most time I think people get cheat sheets and get certified . I'm not saying everyone is like that.A certification will be good on CV and will get an interview
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  • Profile picture of the author yaji
    Why do you need to be certified by others?

    You prove to others by your hard work, your web site and your blogs - meaning your professional blogs covering all technical aspects of your expertise, or your books.

    I would rather spend my time writing my books instead of preparing for others tests.
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  • Profile picture of the author Soflyy
    I have coded multiple very successful and widely used PHP scripts - as in, scripts used successfully on tens of thousands of sites.

    I couldn't pass a certification test if my life depended on it.
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  • Profile picture of the author summerm
    When I hire developers, I usually think less of a candidate with certifications... especially Microsoft certifications. Stellar candidates rarely have certifications; the majority of resumes with certifications represent mediocre developers. (No offense meant to anyone... I myself got Java Developer certified)
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  • Profile picture of the author clubvikram
    Banned
    It does help in making a good first impression.A resume with a zend certification,JCP,microsoft certification and OCP has better chance in getting short listed.In case of freelance jobs also non geek employers do prefer an employee with a certification but after making that good initial impression if you could not deliver then obviously all your certifications go waste.
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  • Profile picture of the author dizen
    they add more weight to your resume but waht is most important to an employer is what project you have done in the past
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  • Profile picture of the author locpicker
    There are also broader certifications you can get such as Certified webmaster. WebYoda is a good place to get this and you can test out just by the knowledge you have already gained.
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  • Profile picture of the author haikuangel
    Certifications are crucial if you want to make it in the corporate arena. Although yes, they are vendor specific most companies will consider it a plus if the applicant is certified on a specific system or technology. It is an advantage and may prove to be the tipping point when it comes to deciding between you and another applicant.
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  • Profile picture of the author articlemaddness
    I agree Certifications will help get your foot in the door but most companies will have skills and prior to hiring. If you have Testimonials, Referrals and previous work to show that can help close the deal.
    Find a few companies that you are interested in working with and see if you can find out company values and mission statement.
    Good luck
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  • Profile picture of the author garyk1968
    certifications are no substitute for 'real' commercial experience in one or more disciplines.
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  • Profile picture of the author n7 Studios
    I hire people - and have been hired - on the strength of my work and real world experience. I build that experience from doing work and reading on the latest trends / best practices specific to my areas of work.

    Most clients don't look for specific technological qualifications. Most don't know their HTML from their PHP. Clients look for someone who can do the job well, at the right price.

    Qualifications mean little. They just show you studied something. In reality, you'll always be studying, reading and learning new things as you progress in your job.
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    • Profile picture of the author LibertyUnc
      Personally, I don't have much use for them. In fact, when someone claims to be certified in x, y, and z, I become a bit leery due to past experience.

      If non-technical people are doing the hiring, certs can help a lot, especially due to the cya bit.

      If technical people are doing the hiring, then knowing your stuff does wonders. Knowing the right lingo can help as well...and a certification or two can help depending on the one hiring.

      Half the people I know can study hard, pass tests, and then forget everything they studied in a week...
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  • Profile picture of the author Damien Roche
    I don't think you *need* certifications, BUT they are great for you CV if you are looking to follow a career offline.

    If you are smart, and work for yourself, certifications are fairly useless, though they can help make you stand out a little more.
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  • Profile picture of the author Marcel Pamphile
    Got no experience ? Get a certification
    Got experience ? get recommendations and improve your people skill
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