Certifications: Worth It or Not? - Page 2
There is one major exception, Lubert points out -- on the channel side. VARs, dealers, integrators, resellers, et cetera. Here, customers want, often mandate, that people providing services be certified. "So resellers almost always wants the people to be certified, because that's the foot in the door."
"Sometimes, when you have a disaster, it's people without the certifications who can do it, because they understand what's happening at the network level, not just the vendor and API level," points out Mark Lesswing, VP at the National Association of Realtors' Center for Realtor Technology. "I look for people who had been in a shop that had undergone a paradigm change while they were there, such as taking subnetting a corporate network, or moving to a new vendor or technology. These are fundamental changes you need to understand. I look for people who have lived and survived changes like these."
A Prerequisite In The Employment Process
Regardless of whether they mean someone will be a more valuable employee, certifications are often in the employment criteria.
"Requiring a candidate to have the certification can be used as a high-level discriminator to help a hiring manager quickly cull out some people. However," Lubert cautions, "Some of those culled may be highly qualified individuals who don't believe in certification or who haven't gotten them yet."
"Having a certification often pigeonholes someone," points out Jason McKinney, a independent network administrator previously in charge of the networks and systems for a small multinational corporation. "The argument can be made that the major value of it is to provide search engine fodder, e.g. to enable a person to be found by the hiring manager, so that they get an interview."
The Life Cycle of Certifications -- And Knowledge
The 'life cycle' of the certification is also a growing issue. Ernest Lilley, an independent network engineer, previously Director of Operations at Synaptic Pharmaceutical Corp, points out, "Though corporate buyers and consumers alike are rebelling against the short OS and Software product cycles that we've experienced for the past decade, software developers aren't going to give them up without a fight. As a result, the useful lifespan of any given certification is often no longer the period it takes to acquire it."
A similar argument can be applied to the amount of experience, though.
"Two to three years of applying a technology is enough," states Howard Marks. "Frequently, five to seven years becomes two to three of experience and then more of it over again." On the other hand, though: "The only people who can do something like design a Win2K network are those who have done it three time. The first cookie is always burnt, and the second cookie is always underdone. The third time is the charm."