As the Datanauts Nerd Rocket hurtles through space on its continuing mission to bust silos, ambitious crew members are wondering how to climb the career ladder.
You know how to run a level-3 diagnostic in your sleep and modulate shield frequencies with one hand behind your back, but how do you get the chief engineer to notice that you’ve got the chops?
You could reroute all ship controls to your console and hijack the vessel, but all that would get you is a court martial.
So what about certifications? There’s an idea! Crack a few books, run through some labs, sit for an exam, and presto! An official organization prints your name on a sheet of paper, assigns you your very own serial number, and now you’ve got credentials that say “I know what I’m doing! Give me a better job!”
Right? Well, sort of. On today’s episode, Drew Conry-Murray beams aboard to probe Chris and Ethan (with questions! just questions!) about the wild world of IT certifications, their value (both real and perceived), how the certification system works, what it gets right, and where it drives them crazy.
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Part 1 – Certifications For Dummies
- What are the most common certifications in your respective disciplines?
- What other certifications carry weight in the tech industry?
- Is there a hierarchy of certifications ? Like, cert X makes you a padawan, cert Y makes you a Jedi, and Z means people have to call you ‘Master’ and you can come back from the dead as a hologram?
- The certifications I hear most about, or see in people’s bios, are tied to Cisco, VMware, or other vendors. Are there vendor-neutral equivalents?
- Do different IT disciplines regard certifications differently? My impression is that in the security industry, or among software developers, demonstrable knowledge and hands-on ability carries more weight than a certification.
Part 2 – What’s In It For Me?
- What does a certification mean to you? If you meet someone and you don’t know anything about their background or technical ability other than that they have X certificate, what do you assume about them?
- How do certifications compare to other credentials, like academic degrees, or book authorship, or open source contributions, or an active Git repository?
- If you had one candidate with a CCIE, and another with a master’s degree in computer science or a related discipline, and they each had similar work experience, which one would you pick?
- Aside from the acquisition of knowledge, what tangible benefits did you gain from earning certifications? I’m talking about things like pay raises, advancements, being given more responsibility in an organization, etc.
- Do you get a sense of personal accomplishment from certifications?
Part 3 – Frustrations And Recommendations
- As an estimate, how much of your own time and money have you put into certifications?
- Is it possible to game the certification process? Are there tricks or shortcuts to get the cert without doing the work?
- Let’s imagine you’ve just staged a coup and overthrown the certification regime. Are there things about certifications you’d change? Things you’d generally keep the same?
- On balance, would you advise young or even mid-career IT professionals to pursue certification?