Many people have told me that it’s tough to get a job in IT unless they have a certification. However, I have had people that I have met that have 2-3 certifications but can’t seem to land a job. So what’s going on?
The thing that people need, and what employers want, is experience. Nothing comes into play more than experience. You can have 5 certifications, and a BS in Computer Science, and still not be qualified to do a job due to lack of experience.
As an IT recruiter we have plenty of requests for IT consultants and I don’t recall the last time that a client asked for someone with a specific certification. It’s been a preference, but not required. I wonder if employers use certs for screening purposes. When using a firm they have us vouch for the lack of certification.
That doesn’t mean that certifications have no weight. As people apply to the same jobs and have similar qualifications, certifications may help decide which candidate to choose for the role. Not only do they test a person’s knowledge, but it also shows that the person took the initiative and money to take the exam. There is no cash refund if the person fails, which deters many people from taking a certification exam.
Is there a cert that holds more water than others? Not necessarily, but there are some that seem to have a reputation behind them. Take the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) for example. This certification is highly regarded for experts in this specific field of network engineers. One must not only pass a written test, but a hands-on labs portion as well. A six-figure income can be expected from someone that holds the knowledge of a CCIE and the respected certification. Cisco doesn’t even recommend anyone to take it unless they have 5+ years of experience in the field. Cisco certification exams are known to be challenging. They have a vast question and answer base.
The A+ certification is a good foundation for those that are trying to get into the IT industry as a help desk or desktop support professional.
It’s hard not to talk about certifications without mentioning the plethora of Microsoft Certifications. If you take one of the many approved MS exam and you may be considered to be a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP). Taking one exam and becoming MCP does not distinguish one MCP from another. However, Microsoft (MS) does have cert tracks that tests a person’s knowledge of a variety of MS products thus expanding the initials from MCP to others like MS Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA) or MS Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE). Many years ago MS would have a question and answer bank that would be randomly taken and inserted in to the exam at the time of testing. Later they implemented the adaptable method of questions. The adaptable way takes into consideration a person’s answer to a question, right or wrong, and based upon that response supplies the next question. This takes the test taker’s knowledge in to consideration. Exams may also have more or less questions as the aforementioned fixed, non-adaptable, exam method.
I mentioned it earlier, certification can be important, but nothing trumps experience.