Twice in the last week people in IT have asked this question of me. My answer has been it depends. When I first started my career I hated certifications. This is mostly because in college I attended a Microsoft certification course. This course was a memorize the content don’t worry if you don’t understand type of test/course. It seemed pointless to me… I passed the test and still had never worked with half the stuff I was tested on. The memorized information was soon lost and nothing other and a piece of paper was gained. This tainted my view toward certifications. For many years I did not see the point and avoided them. A few years ago an employer encouraged me to get a VMware certification. They also offered to pay. So I took them up on the offer and got the VCP certification. The required course for the certification was good because it allowed a lot of time for question and answer sessions. The instructor knew the material very well. It was a good course. With a little additional study I passed the test and had another IT certification.
What did I learn?
Knowing I was going to have to take the VCP test made my course learning more meaningful. I was able to learn with intent. I now realized that certifications might not have value but the knowledge did… So since that time I have used certifications to motivate myself to learn.
Wait… certifications should translate into more money right?
While it is true my jobs continue to pay more as time goes along I do not believe this is because of my certifications. I think it’s because of what I learned while doing the certifications. Will certifications ensure more money? Not always. But more knowledge and skills will translate to more ability to do.
So you convinced me … what certs should I do?
Well here is the tough one. I can tell you what certifications I see a lot of resumes and job postings:
- ITIL – This one is on every resume. Buy a book off Amazon and take the test… it’s not hard and people want it a lot.
- VMware certification – Virtualization is hot… but only a few places have virtualization only admins.. VCP is normally enough. VCAP and above are not seen much on job postings. (Don’t get me wrong I am all about geeking out with VMware certs… as shown by my VCDX but in translation to jobs VCAP will not help you more than VCP… VCDX will but it’s a long journey) Best fun test on that journey VCAP-DCA (it’s a live test that makes you do it’s so much fun)
- RedHat certification (normally RHCE) redhat is still the leader in enterprise linux and their cert is a practice test that requires that you do things not just know them.
- Windows Certification – They are a lot better than they used to be and look great for Windows jobs
- PmP – if you want to get into technical project management this is the cert.
- CCNA – If you are interested in networking start here… even if you don’t have Cisco in your shop.
My final note is a shout out to all testing systems that require you to work with a real environment like the VCAP-DCA, CCNA or RHCE. These tests require you know how to do things and are awesome. No pointless memorization required. We need more IT tests like this…