My Thoughts On Certifications, Explained

posted on 12/22/07 at 09:00:01 pm by Joel Ross

I saw a link to Stevey's Blog Rants in my twitter feed, so I clicked it and started reading through his archives. One of his recent posts is about tips for a good resume. No, I'm not looking for a job, or even to improve my resume, but it's still valuable to see what others are saying.

Anyway, he brings up the topic of certifications.

Certification is for the weak. It's something that flags you as a technician when you really want to be an engineer. If you want to be a television repairman, you can become certified in TV repair. If you want to work for Sony and design their next big-screen TV, then you clearly don't need a busy-working-adults course on how to repair the fugging things.

Same goes for tech certification. It means you had to take a course to learn something you could have read in a book. If you know something, just say you know it, and then be prepared to answer questions about it during your phone screens and/or interviews. If you feel compelled to add that you're certified in said skill, it's just broadcasting that you lack confidence in your own self-assessments, which doesn't help you in the slightest.

That's not totally my view, but it's close. Whenever I'm asked about my view on certifications, I usually respond with a question of my own: Who would you rather have on your project? The developer who is always busy - so busy she doesn't have time to get certified, or the guy who's on the bench a lot, so he has time to study to get certified?

As is the case most of the time, it's not a hard and fast rule for me - I'm an MCP, so I have a certification of my own - but someone with a lot of certifications is usually a sign that something's amiss.

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