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IT Certifications, Are They Worth The Money And Time?

I get this question from IT folk at all the time, should I get certified in (fill in the blank). My answer is usually pretty vague and starts with “yes but…”.

Employers tend to use it as a part of their hiring requirements. They also tend to pay more to those who are certified, particularly those from the likes of Microsoft and Cisco.

But I also know a lot of IT folk who get certified but still do not know what they are doing but it looks good on their resume. They also take lesser known tests and do it online with some fudging going on. I think that’s why I am lukewarm on the certificiations.

So maybe I need to caution employers and not the candidates.

Here is an article from Computerworld on networking certifications that backs up my thinking, Networking certification: Are those initials worth it?

Where to get certifications from:

Beyond that, there are vendor certifications, such as from Cisco, Novell Inc. and Microsoft Corp,, and vendor-neutral certifications, such as those offered by CompTIA or the Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals (ICCP) in Des Plaines, Ill. Anderson said that vendor-neutral ones are useful mostly for those starting out, with financial benefit mostly arising from the vendor certifications.

Impact on pay:

His latest figures show that the possession of a networking certification results in an average pay premium of 9.2%. The average for all certifications is 8.2%. Noncertified networking skills result in a 7.1% premium, barely above the 7% average for all noncertified skills. (The best premium he found was 14%, for project management certification. The worst was 5% for a general certification, which was lower than the premium for any of the non-certified skills he tracks.)

The article points out benefits to employers for offering paid training including a 25% drop in turnover and on the computer network side of things reduced failures and outages.

They also give the caution I mentioned above:

"Having that piece of paper is proof that you have the baseline knowledge," agreed Cody. "But it would be foolish to hire just based on certification, since you also have to make sure they know what they are doing. It's possible to have a good career without certifications, but certifications make it easier to get in the door."

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