Do Certifications Matter?

I got my OCP 9i three years ago jsut to keep my job. Did it really matter? No. I was laid off the next year. In combination with my cert I had 4 years solid experience with Oracle. Did the company I was contracted to care? A big, solid NO. Now, I am working in a COMPLETELY Microsoft shop (except for tools not made by MS). Is my Oracle cert doing any good now? No.

The best thing about my cert is I didn’t pay for it.

The way I look at certs is it should be used to ENHANCE your current skills or to show you know what you already know. But, obviously that is abused. That is a “perfect world” scenario where everyone is honest and not deceptive.

I really like the PMP cert. If only there was an i in Project. You could have certified PiMPs… (Thanks for the smirk, Dave Markle!)

Other than that, I’m still jealous of Jeff’s office.

How many of the folks expressing negatives about certification actually hire people? Sure many of you interview, but do you sign ze papers? For a hiring manager a certification is never a negative. The prospect may have plenty of other negatives but the cert itself is not one of them. On the other hand, for a borderline candidate, the fact that they took the time and trouble to get certified may make the difference in getting hired or not.

Certification, of one type or another, has existed for most of recorded history for most trades and crafts. Get used to it, it’s not going away.

Being now middle-aged, I’ve reached the point of “Senior Architect” who’s been programming for 25+ years. Many languages, platforms, etc., (including current ones.) Tons of experience (good and bad).

Did all this experience, knowledge, and expertise help when I got laid off during the dot-com bust? No, because no one would look at my resume. After I found work via networking (always the better path, but can take a long time), I tried an experiment: I added a certification acronym to my resume. Next thing, I’m getting called back for the first time. (I didn’t interview with those companies.)

The impression I ended up with: Many hiring out there think if you don’t have certifications, you must not be serious about your career. Or worse, if you’re older and don’t have certifications, you must be out-of-touch with current development technology and tools.

I’m seriously considering getting some certifications. The primary reason is that it should help me both ‘stay in touch’ with the latest development gizmos, while also providing a tangible record that I’ve done so.

Microsoft now has a new and interesting certification level: Microsoft Certified Architect. MCA is a peer-review (and expensive) certification process, which sounds like it could be something much more than just a framed certificate. Has any of you readers gone after MCA or other advanced certification?

Oliver, your right in that case purely theory wouldn’t be enough. But if in 5 years time you apply (with experience gained in that time) A certification as well might make you stand out compared to a similar candidate without the cert.

Even experience isn’t perfect look how long we’ve been writing yet people still can’t spell.

I have been consulting for decades without finishing college or getting any certificates. I have to turn away work due limits on my time, have started multiple software companies and am the first person my peers go to when they need a question answered.

Yet, there are some companies that can’t see what I have done because of the lack of a degree and certs. Instant disqualification. The good news: this is a great way to filter out places I wouldn’t be happy working in the first place. If a portfolio of successful implementations isn’t enough, they probably have a similar closed group-think in other areas that would just be annoying in the long run.

However, I’m not sure that I will be able to do this forever. So far the efforts to put “software engineer” barriers to entry have failed, but I am a member of both the IEEE and ACM specifically to weigh in on “no mandatory requirements for the field” side of the fence. Trust me: if you are self taught, you should consider joining these organizations so your voice can be heard… there is intense pressure within these organizations to get laws passed that would require mandatory education and certification levels to work in this industry.

Certifications should be a good thing, but “certification” as a concept has been devalued by the companies that are so keen to offer them. The worst offenders (Microsoft I’m looking at you) made the certifications too easy to learn by rote, and the spate of “cribbing” sites hasn’t helped.

That said:

  • Certifications can be a good thing if you’re doing it to learn something rather than just get the letters.
  • The Offender (Microsoft) seems to be growing up. The MCA is a good start, certifications are starting to get more simulation-based, and it is getting harder to cheat.

About 5 years ago I did my MCSE and MCSD. The MCSD I did the “bad” way (rote learning and cribbing), and I gained nothing from it. The MCSE I did the right way - courseware, then the study program from the Transcender tests which was fantastic, then more studying, and I learned a lot from that. Certification is no substitute for experience, but experience is no substitute for Experience + Education.

Well, the argument here isn’t whether one can gain any useful information from certification programs. I think most people here would say that what you get out of a course or a certification is heavily dependent on the student.

My perspective is that most certifications probably aren’t terribly useful from the perspective of hiring. Unless that certification has a reputation or an association with effective people, (probably gained through both theory and practice to get said certificate) it’s just a test that you’ve passed. Otherwise, for people who take tests well, like Aaron, (no disrespect, Aaron), this may or may not translate to skill. That ambiguity makes certifications unreliable.

i have my BS and working as senior software engineer for almost 4 yrs now…
currently on .NET but had projects on Coldfusion and a full life cycle J2EE project these last 4 years…
Can any one suggest me …
MS or Certifications or…
just to make sure that im not lagging behind or become one among the crowd…

thanks in advance…

I’m enrolling in an A+ course next month. I’m going after this to get out of retail and make enough to finish my degree. Right now, I can install almost any piece of hardware (in PC-type machines, don’t know about Macs), almost any OS. And, I never had any formal training. That certification is just a way to grab a prospective employer’s attention. Now, I just need to find some classroom-style training for a PHP cert. Again, for the documented proof.

You can save a lot of money on actual certs and just buy a couple more reference/study books, if it’s a field outside your main interest. The studies, experience, and practice tests are what are important; the cert is just validation to people who probably don’t care. Whether you list those on your resume (“Certs studied for”?) is up to you.

The biggest problem with certs is how easy it is to get them and then let the skills rust for years. You don’t want to come in on a big critical project just to realize you’ve forgotten everything and don’t have time to brush up.

Certifications should be exactly like a degree (I have both). By that, I mean they both speak of the START of understanding, not the end. Having a cert does not mean “you have arrived.”

Both degree and cert can help you get an interview at an ENTRY-LEVEL POSITION and not necessarily a job. (Of course, there is at least one obvious exception: CCIE should be given more weight.)

A degree means you are willing to study, spend four+ years on a project, and are presumably ready to enter the professional workforce. The better the degree, the better the perceived preparation.

Certifications means you have studied and tested on specific subjects and may be ready for a starter job. The tougher the cert, the more work you presumably spent on it.

A good body of work means you are a professional and can do X job. This is where the paper-certified folks are separated from the actual professionals.

BTW - Haven’t developed web stuff for a while, but HTTP GET passes data and args over the request string ((.*?).com?page=requested_page) and HTTP POST passes stuff in the body of the request. Unless I have that backwards. :slight_smile:

Time Magazine had a great article about how schools are changing, it said that in some progressive schools they recognize that memorizing facts that are easily found on google/wikipedia is pointless in this day and age. Instead they are incouraging the kids to work in teams and explore the theories and the ‘whys’ of things.

I think the same applies to certifications, if they are all multiple-guess (A+, Security+ any MS test, etc) then the cert is worthless, but if it’s hands on like a CCIE or apparently the RHCE then it’s likely worth more. Some certs (PMI) require that you have worked in the industry for 1000’s of hours, those I think are definately worth something.

When you ar elooking to hire someone it pays to know what getting the certification involves.

Funny this exact subject was on /. last week, but I’ll repost my refined opinion.

Real experience is the the thing ALL professional positions desire above anything else. The problem is for physicians, engineers, and a great many other professions, the experience can come at a fairly significant cost.

The shortcut is to go to school, learn from other people’s experience, and the school will vouch for the fact that you learned it. This is much more practical for physicians than prescribing medication for their neighbors for 10 years and learning from the one’s that died. It’s certainly cheaper than building skyscrapers for 10 years and then learning from the one’s that didn’t collapse.

Of course, it is certainly possible to be a self-taught physician or engineer, but most people won’t hire you because it’s a huge risk, mostly a liability issue. On the other hand, except for in nuclear power plants and things like that, software rarely carries the same risk of liability. Sarbanes Oxley may remedy that, but it remains to be seen.

I’ve come to the conclusion that, for any job, the best thing is to be able to “get things done”. I’ve met and worked with plumbers, electricians, physicists, actuaries, mathematicians, physicians, and even architects. The “good” ones all have the same characteristic, they get things done. Some jobs can or must be learned in the field, some in the university, and for some it doesn’t matter. The bottom line is, if I’m review 100 resumes I need a way to quickly filter them, a certification is better than nothing.

I can say for sure, a cert won’t get you hired (if it does, that company most certainly sucks), but it might help get you an interview. When I’m interviewing, it’s easy to tell who gives a shit and can get things done, and who thinks that showing up most of the time warrants a paycheck.

“you should be spending your time building stuff, not studying for multiple choice tests”

Couldn’t agree more. If you can pass a certification without studying for it, by all means go for it. That means you already have the knowledge the test is looking for. To study for it and then pass it is really a facade on top of what your real skills are.

 Boy is this ever an age old question! I once asked a boss who hired   me over a dozen pre-specified candidates what would they value more a certification or college degree (in related field). He actually said certification, I then went on to find out he had no idea what half the certifications actually meant. To him Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) sounded much more technical than a plain jane B.S. in Computer Science. 

 This led me to believe to common non-technical folk a certification is probably preffered. So if your going to work for yourself, or be a consultant or perhaps want to post your resume and work within a big organization have certifications ask as keywords might be the best course of action. 

  However, to us technical folk we know that just because a person  posses a cert doesn't mean they actually know much about what thier certs in. Case in point, when attaining my College Degree I took MANY courses in different subject areas. In order to pass these courses I had to pass a test. I simply memorized text from a book and when asked a question during test I'd repeat what I memorized, did I remember all this information? NO. 

  My wife, who knows squat about IT could take and pass any IT cert course and still be useless out in the field. The point is the value is in the experiance and not certification.

I worked for a certification bootcamp back in 98-99, and I can tell you that an MCSE is worthless. We had an agreement with the local unemployment board to re train the unemployed. If I had a cut of the money we recieved to turn cabbies and plumbers into “Network Technicians” in 3 months…wow, life would be sweet. In any case, ever since that eye opening experience, I place little or no credentials in the Microsoft Certs.

I wouldn’t mind a non corporate/business affiliated body putting out something with the equivilent of a CPA exam, with the requirement of say 5 years industry experience as a prerequisite to even sign up for it. I have 10+ years of ms coding under my belt and wouldn’t mind the distinction, more as a way of separating myself from the rifraf that have invaded the industry than anything else. Certified Public Programmer, it has a nice ring to it.

Stephen Pattern:
idempotent? I don’t know about the word specifically, but the page you linked included the quote:

" If the processing of a form is idempotent (i.e. it has no lasting observable effect on the state of the world), then the form method should be GET. Many database searches have no visible side-effects and make ideal applications of query forms.
- -

If the service associated with the processing of a form has side effects (for example, modification of a database or subscription to a service), the method should be POST.


A great example is that Google, of all companies, misuses GET a lot. I can craft a URL that you can click on (triggering a GET) that changes your google language to Gaelic until you clear your google cookie or find a way to change it back.

Until you clear the cookie or change your settings, every time you visit google with that browser, the page will be in Gaelic and all your results will be Gaelic-weighted.

The method that gets called is NOT idempotent - it has a lasting effect, therefor it should only be possible to trigger it via a POST, partially to prevent people from crafting that URL into their page and having it triggered by javascript or something so that just visiting a page that isn’t related to google at all will change your google settings without your knowledge.

This is just one example, completely unabashedly stolen from a Slashdot comment I stumbled upon a long time ago(yes, he included a demo link, and yes, it really did change your language).

That’s a very low-importance example though… but people put databases online behind web interfaces that allow you to modify data from your browser. what happens if you’re logged into one in one browser window, and visit a malicious website that attempts to send a GET request w/ a SQL statement that adds a new SQL user? That isn’t possible if you make it only use POST. Granted, they could craft one and POST it, but most browsers put a lot more restrictions on how you can POST without warnings and other issues. Sure you could check referrers, blah blah blah… the bottom line is, a malicious GET can come from a LOT of sources, a malicious POST is harder to get at. (You can embed misleading links in IM, email, .url files/shortcuts, etc… POST has to be triggered from within the browser session in all browsers that I know of. No, it isn’t a huge massive security hole(usually), just a small annoying one that could be almost completely avoided by following the standard!)

“How do I tell the good from the bad?”

A portfolio of successful implementations and word of mouth recommendations? That’s how my company works.

Lots of dodgy comments by brash young brats here dismissing certifications.

For the more mature among us, CERTIFICATION ARE A DIFFERENTIATOR.

Kids, you won’t be able to coast on attitude and experience in your 30’s and 40’s. Hiring Managers want to be assured that you are “current”. Certs are that currency.

If you let only dictate who you hire you will get nothing but salesmen that talk about 7 habits and repeat the same damn bullet points, at least with certifications you know the person can fucking learn something and most jobs don’t give a FUCK how much experience you have it that you can LEARN what it takes to do the job and then do it!