Why is everyone so focused certifications?

BlackBeretBlackBeret Member Posts: 684 ■■■■■□□□□□
I know I'm going to get flamed, but I have to ask anyway. Why is everyone so focused on getting certifications? Every certification I have or am working on is a job requirement, that's it for me. I can study and learn without spending money on specific programs and buying paper. The only certification that I have studied specifically for was the CISSP because it covers so much it touched on areas that I haven't worked. I work and study topics, then get certified because my company requires some sort of proof that I know what I say I know.

I see a LOT of people coming on here and asking for advice on certifications, what to get, what the cert is for, what they need to know for it, etc. People are focused on the certifications and not learning the material. The whole point in my opinion is to certify that a person knows the subject, not that they can pass a test. I understand first hand that some need them for compliance with jobs, especially gov jobs where they don't actually need to know what the cert covers, but most seem like they have no idea what they want. What happened to the times when people studied and worked in their field before trying to prove they were experts of X topic?
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Comments

  • Jon_CiscoJon_Cisco Member Posts: 1,775 ■■■■■■■■□□
    I see certifications very differently. I have never believed that passing a test can confirm someone is an expert.

    My personal view of certifications is that they show that you have been exposed to the material and will probably be teachable.
    The thing I like about certification is they can provide focus and there is often material readily available.

    As to being flamed. It's a valid question. However posting it on a site dedicated to certification testing is probably not going to provide you with much unbiased feedback.
  • gespensterngespenstern Member Posts: 1,243 ■■■■■■■□□□
    That's obvious. To pass HR filter, that's it.

    If you have a job that you like and you worked there forever and you don't see how you quit it -- then it's clear why you wonder.

    Now suppose that there's a new boy in a big city, he knows nobody, nobody knows him, he has to find a job to support his family, how does he prove himself? Without connections and/or certs he's going nowhere even if he's more than capable and genius.
  • tahjzhuantahjzhuan Member Posts: 283 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Multitude of reasons. Justifying my current salary, increasing skill set, filling knowledge gaps, future proofing myself. It started off when I was transitioning into a new role. Now, a number of my certs have aged and still reflect an entry level status. I came back to certs in an effort to 'step my game up' in another transition and to show professional development. I do it for the knowledge more so than anything, but need to maintain market competitiveness and I see it as being an investment in myself. Certs are essentially smiley faces of confirmation for a certain level of mastery in the covered domains.
  • OfWolfAndManOfWolfAndMan Member Posts: 923 ■■■□□□□□□□
    It depends on the person. Sometimes it's for a job requirement, promotion, maybe they're trying to break into the industry, some do it to show that they could, but those who truly wish to learn a wealth of knowledge out of it, or understand the conceptual framework rather than the hands on, are another sector as well.

    You can do a job all day and call yourself "experienced", but at the end of the day, if you can't explain to me a plan of execution that not only outlines your understanding of the technology, but also the process, what good are you to me if you are only familiar with the repetitive tasks a monkey could do? Learning the knowledge is one thing, and so is planning and project participation, but all three are essential for any IT employee to thrive.
    :study:Reading: Lab Books, Ansible Documentation, Python Cookbook 2018 Goals: More Ansible/Python work for Automation, IPSpace Automation Course [X], Build Jenkins Framework for Network Automation []
  • ITHokieITHokie GXPN | GPEN | GCIH | GPYC | CISSP | CEH | MCSE | CCNA | Others Member Posts: 158 ■■■■□□□□□□
    BlackBeret wrote: »
    People are focused on the certifications and not learning the material.

    Gigantic assumption. And we all know what assumptions do.
  • MTciscoguyMTciscoguy Member Posts: 552
    When I was in the Military, I could filter people who were trying to move up in rank, based on what they said on their request statements, if I had a person who wanted to work in IT security, but his/her record did not show any experience, then it was a waste of my as well as their time to even talk to them until they got those certifications. I used to hand pick my teams and I didn't have time to mess around with those who had not at least taken the time to study the material and pass the test to list on their statements of request(Resume)
    Current Lab: 4 C2950 WS, 1 C2950G EI, 3 1841, 2 2503, Various Modules, Parts and Pieces. Dell Power Edge 1850, Dell Power Edge 1950.
  • NetworkNewbNetworkNewb Member Posts: 3,298 ■■■■■■■■■□
    BlackBeret wrote: »
    Every certification I have or am working on is a job requirement, that's it for me.

    I think most people on here like to go above and beyond than only what they are currently only required to do. My company doesn't ask or make me to take any certifications/training and won't even help pay for any education. Am I suppose to be stagnant and not do anything because no is making me?

    People also want to know the best path to become successful as possible in their career. So they ask what certifications other people done, and what has helped them. I think it's smart to ask these questions and learn from other's experiences. I don't know about other people, but I work at small company (I'm pretty much the whole IT Dept) and I don't have anyone I can turn to and ask questions regarding my career or anyone to give me any recommendations on what I should focus on. So I come here and ask people their opinions. Has definitely helped me.

    Also, another intangible that has helped me is just communicating with other people who strive to improve themselves. Reading about other people getting new jobs and who are focused on increasing their knowledge definitely helps me. Helps me push myself to improve.

    (I guess that last part wasn't about certifications at all, but just wanted to say it icon_thumright.gif)
  • N2ITN2IT Inactive Imported Users Posts: 7,483
    I'm pretty much done with them myself, but I like the community.

    I'll be honest I don't know how people keep up with it. It's a thankless rat race that never guarantees anything.

    From what I have seen it's who you know. However........ I personally think one big one is a nice feather in your cap, such as CISSP, TOGAF, MCSE, CCNP etc. But to go wild and get a bunch IMO is goofy.
  • GForce75GForce75 Member Posts: 222
    It's a combination of reasons as other mentioned. Some of the exams have pretty dumb questions also that an experienced person would fail due to the way that questions are worded (cough... CISCO)
    Doctoral Candidate - BA (33/60hrs) ~ MBA/Project Management ~ BA/Business-IT
  • anoeljranoeljr Member Posts: 278
    Certs aren't a bad thing, as long as you can speak on and apply what you've learned. I got the certs in my profile only because school required them. Most of the knowledge I already knew except for the Linux+ cert. Right now I'm trying to focus on valuable skills that should help me in the future, like Powershell. I'm hesitant to take certs right now as many are multiple choice tests and I don't really think they're a good measure of what you've learned. I think more vendors should take the approach of the Red Hat exams and do performance-based tests as I think those would present problems you'd more likely face in the real world. To be honest I'm not sure when I'll take another certification exam, but you will find me studying every now and then trying to learn new things and apply them.
  • DoubleNNsDoubleNNs Member Posts: 2,013 ■■■■■□□□□□
    It seems like certifications become less important once you already have experience, especially if you're not actively looking for upward progression or a promotion. But for me so far, I couldn't get my 1st job until I got certs the frustration was what prompted me to join this forum in the 1st place. Since then it's also helped me to aggressively move up in responsibility and compensation.

    Every single cert has taught me something I never would have learned otherwise.
    For some reason, I've never felt like I was learning much on the job in any of the IT positions I've had thus far - I've only felt like I was improving my skill after-hours when I was reading, labbing, consuming videos/podcasts, and frequenting sites like this.However, using exams as a guideline and knowing I need to know a topic in order to succeed on the test gives me motivation to preserve and go a bit deeper on topics I initially find difficult to grasp and/or boring.

    I'm looking to make a move over to Linux Administration. I firmly believe changing directions in my career will be much easier w/ certification than w/o. If the transition is successful, I might put less emphasis on certification and more on simply learning to satisfy my personal curiosity - skimming thru books because I think they might be interesting and not because they are an objective on a test.
    But it's funny -- soon I'm going to have to start deciding how to handle recertification of the exams I've already passed..
    Goals for 2018:
    Certs: RHCSA, LFCS: Ubuntu, CNCF CKA, CNCF CKAD | AWS Certified DevOps Engineer, AWS Solutions Architect Pro, AWS Certified Security Specialist, GCP Professional Cloud Architect
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  • tahjzhuantahjzhuan Member Posts: 283 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Some people work in IT, but aren't really about the lifestyle of constant reading and knowledge acquisition. I took a 10 year break from certs to focus on OJT knowledge. Mastered my role and also incorporated elements of other roles. I also don't believe that lower level certs are a waste of time or focus too much on immediate ROI. Trying to build a solid foundation/baseline. Just like defense in depth, I believe in knowledge in depth, so I welcome redundancy as a way to hammer in information.
  • twodogs62twodogs62 Member Posts: 393 ■■■□□□□□□□
    professional growth.
    Focusing and learning new material
    The challenge.
    Resume material
    Keeping current and relevant.
  • SolitonSoliton Member Posts: 49 ■■□□□□□□□□
    I can understand where it can seem like a waste of time and money, but all the points given by others are valid. It is a great door opener, can help justify a salary or raise, transition into another position, etc.

    For me, I personally look at certs for all those reasons, but also enjoy getting them for the knowledge. Even if you don't actually go and certify, at least reading a Security+ study guide or maybe doing CBTs gives you a good foundation. It's great because there is a framework already laid out. If you end up liking the material or think it'll be of benefit, you go certify. Personally, I love the hunt for free or really reduced price certifications (not all, but ones that interest me obviously). A great example was when Microsoft was offering the free Hyper-V certification, it was a great credential to have and was great knowledge on not just HyperV but Virtualization in general. I never finished due to priority of other projects, but that alone would have helped prove to any employer that I understood it on some level.

    Overall, getting a bunch of certs is mainly useful for those starting out w/o experience or education, and those who actually work within all those facets. For guys like me, I'm chasing the CISSP, Mobility+, ITIL, CCNA, and any cheap or free certs I find that may be useful.

    In all my experience, every employer has always admired the fact that I was looking at so many different areas. They liked the interest, pursuit of knowledge, and showed that I could learn many things quickly.
    ~ A+ - Passed ~ CCNA - In Progress
    Your Recommended daily dose of security and privacy -> My Blog
  • Codeman6669Codeman6669 Member Posts: 227
    Well.. this is just in my experience and isnt always true...

    But i prefer a person with certifications then a bachelors in i.t. Because atlease i know with certs they studied specific material to what they are trying to learn. With a degree they proved they can sit in highscool classes all over again plus a little that actually has to do with what they will work with. I find people with certs are typically more competent in their job then the degree types. Thats not Always the case, but usually.

    Also it opens, doors, leads or helps to promotions, gives you personal goals and something to strive for, knowledge. etc. Yah we want to pass the cert, but we also want to learn the material just as well. But the end goal is to have another cert on the resume and the brain to back it up.

    If your job is making you take certs dosnt that tell you something?
  • RemedympRemedymp Member Posts: 834 ■■■■□□□□□□
    But i prefer a person with certifications then a bachelors in i.t. Because atlease i know with certs they studied specific material to what they are trying to learn. With a degree they proved they can sit in highscool classes all over again plus a little that actually has to do with what they will work with. I find people with certs are typically more competent in their job then the degree types. Thats not Always the case, but usually.

    All I can is -wow-. icon_rolleyes.gif
  • E Double UE Double U Member Posts: 1,654 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Certs aren't required in my position, but the CISO does encourage them. Since he has a budget for training plus reimburses for books and exams, I don't see why I wouldn't take advantage. Studying for the certification reinforces what I'm learning daily and teaches me new things. This guy already had a six figure salary, CISSP, CISA, and GCIH when he went for GCWN. And he will go for more SANS training so this guy has definitely motivated me.
    Alphabet soup: CISSP, CCSP, CISM, CISA, GDSA, GPEN, GCIA, GCIH, GCCC, CEH, Azure Fundamentals, etc

    2020 goals: AZ-900, AZ-500, GDSA

    "You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try." - Homer Simpson
  • NetworkNewbNetworkNewb Member Posts: 3,298 ■■■■■■■■■□
    wow yea Remedymp, that comment gave a me a little chuckle this morning.
  • the_Grinchthe_Grinch Member Posts: 4,164 ■■■■■■■■■■
    I always felt that certs were really the prize inside the box of knowledge. I mean you put a lot of effort into learning about a topic, you want something to show for it right? To be cynical, you're competing with a ton of people for very few jobs so anything that can give me an edge I will do.
    WIP:
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  • niba10niba10 Member Posts: 54 ■■■□□□□□□□
    its like to say why we need exams in school ...
    the point of the certs is to improve your self that you studied well and know the concepts
  • AwesomeGarrettAwesomeGarrett Member Posts: 257
    It's a calling card, period. You can be an IT genius but no one is going to call you with career opportunities without keywords on your resume.
  • ClaymooreClaymoore Member Posts: 1,637
    I started with certifications to prove my knowledge because I didn't study computers in college. Once I got through my first couple of jobs, I stopped pursuing certifications because I had the experience to prove my knowledge. Then my employer announced a new junior admin position under my senior engineer position. We had 3 internal candidates, so to make it fair we required they attain the 2003 MCSA. It didn't seem fair to require a cert for them that I didn't have, so I updated my MCSE to 2003 and hosted classes to train them for the MCSA. Then I added Exchange for the MCSE:Messaging. Then I updated to 2008 when it was time to look for a new job.

    That job was with a Microsoft partner, and that job required certifications. We need certifications for our partner status, and I need certifications to be able to deliver certain funded engagements. Both the status and funding requirements change so we need to keep our certifications current to meet the requirements. As long as I am in a consulting role with a technology partner, I will continue to certify.
  • PC509PC509 CISSP, CEH, CCNA: Security/CyberOps, Sec+, CHFI, A+, Proj+, Server+, MCITP Win7, Vista, MCP Server 2 Oregon, USMember Posts: 801 ■■■■■■□□□□
    Learn new stuff, personal goals... A little of it is for employment, but if anything it's just for the resume.

    I enjoy learning new stuff. I can do this at work, but then I'm just learning as I go. Certification lets me dig deeper and validate my knowledge. It's not the end-all, though. It's a beginning. I earned the cert, so I know the basics of what I've been working with. I know how to do things I haven't done yet in production (VM's, sure). I could do it all without the certification, but that cert kind of gives me a goal to work towards. Just "I want to learn Server 2012R2" is pretty vague. So, I want to earn the MCSE for Server 2012R2 gives me more direction, and a set track that I can use for learning. At the end of that, I'll have a good VM lab going, certs earned, and a lot of knowledge. I'm not just going for certs. I'm going for the knowledge that goes with the certs.

    Yea, I see a lot of people that just want that piece of paper at any cost, and they don't really 'learn' the material (throw in some oddball situation that isn't much off from reality vs the cert material and they flub up, even if it's just a bad subnet address...). But, most of us are actually LEARNING the material.
  • networker050184networker050184 Mod Posts: 11,962 Mod
    There are two approaches. The sit back and wait for it to be a job requirement like yourself (and the vast majority of people in IT) or be proactive and build your credentials. The nice money that comes along with the better jobs doesn't hurt either.
    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made.
  • markulousmarkulous Member Posts: 2,394 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Well.. this is just in my experience and isnt always true...

    But i prefer a person with certifications then a bachelors in i.t. Because atlease i know with certs they studied specific material to what they are trying to learn. With a degree they proved they can sit in highscool classes all over again plus a little that actually has to do with what they will work with. I find people with certs are typically more competent in their job then the degree types. Thats not Always the case, but usually.

    Also it opens, doors, leads or helps to promotions, gives you personal goals and something to strive for, knowledge. etc. Yah we want to pass the cert, but we also want to learn the material just as well. But the end goal is to have another cert on the resume and the brain to back it up.

    If your job is making you take certs dosnt that tell you something?

    I can't say I agree. I'm not saying anyone with a degree is awesome and they have gold, but I think you're downplaying a degree too much. It's a valuable thing to have.
  • DigitalZeroOneDigitalZeroOne Member Posts: 234 ■■■□□□□□□□
    For the most part, I only care about my certifications if they are directly connected to my current job, or future jobs. The only certification that I plan on keeping current is my VCP, and I don't plan on obtaining a higher level VMware cert unless I see the potential for a lot more money. To clarify, I'm not in IT for the money, I absolutely enjoy the field, and when I started out, I never even questioned my salary, all I wanted to know was what I would learn, or what new technology I would work on.

    Now that I have enough experience, I do focus on salary more, but I wouldn't leave a job simply because I received an offer for more money. I think newer people in the IT field focus on certifications because so many job posts list them as either requirements or preferences, so you do what you need to do to stand out, but after awhile, taking tests gets old.

    I will admit, when I received my A+ cert "back in the day", it did feel great, I remember feeling like I really accomplished something, and I did, but that feeling isn't there anymore when I pass exams, and that's fine. I get that feeling of accomplishment now when I write a very useful script, or when I figure out a complex problem.
  • CyberscumCyberscum Member Posts: 795 ■■■■■□□□□□
    to pass HR screens.
  • mataimatai Member Posts: 232 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I pursue them mainly to squeeze every penny from my employer
    Current: ​CISM, CISA, CISSP, SSCP, GCIH, GCWN, C|EH, VCP5-DCV, VCP5-DT, CCNA Sec, CCNA R&S, CCENT, NPP, CASP, CSA+, Security+, Linux+, Network+, Project+, A+, ITIL v3 F, MCSA Server 2012 (70-410, 70-411, 74-409), 98-349, 98-361, 1D0-610, 1D0-541, 1D0-520
    In Progress: ​Not sure...
  • praminpramin Member Posts: 138 ■■■□□□□□□□
    That's obvious. To pass HR filter, that's it.

    If you have a job that you like and you worked there forever and you don't see how you quit it -- then it's clear why you wonder.

    QUOTE]


    Spot on as to why the need for certs.
  • ChickenNuggetzChickenNuggetz Member Posts: 284
    As many have said the reasons are varied. In my opinion certs usually accomplish a few things depending on what situation you're in:


    For entry-level and junior level:
    • It's a good way to show initiative and interest in the field. I know from my own personal experience as I'm a career switcher and switched into IT from a completely unrelated field. The CCENT helped me land my first gig.
    • For junior level folk, it's a great way to increase skills in other areas that you may not have the opportunity to work with in your day job. Amply applies to the help desk folk that want to break into network or systems administration.


    For mid-level:
    • It's a good way to validate experience already acquired. For example, a network admin whose got a few years experience wants to start job hunting to a new and better position might find something like a CCNA or CCNP useful to get past HR filters and grab a higher level (and better paying) position.


    For senior/expert level:

    Again, experience validation applies but less so. Although, I dont have experience at this level and cant completely comment, generally I see one of two reasons:
    • 1) Their employer wants them to do and is willing to pay for it all.
    • 2) They're attempting to reach the pinnacle of their particular field and the expert/architect level certs will get them that. They'll be able to more easily land the more interesting and best paying positions their particular sub-field has to offer.

    There's other reasons stated earlier, such as:
    • Some people just like to learn new things
    • Some people are required by their employer/contracting agency to stay compliant

    I wouldnt go as far to say everyone on this forum is obsessed with the cert and not the knowledge; I actually find it the other way that the majority of people are looking for the knowledge, the cert is just a way to validate that knowledge; it says "Look at what I learned and accomplished!" Sadly, this world is full of many people who dont care about the knowledge gained and only care about the piece of paper they get. Those are the people that, in my opinion, tend to give certs a bad name and devalue the overall worth of some certifications.

    If you think all certs are a joke (if this is the case, honestly why are you on this forum, haha) then I'd implore you to look at some of the expert/architect level ones. They take a CONSIDERABLE amount of knowledge, experience, time, and dedication to accomplish and are really a feet of intellectual prowess if they are obtained. Look at the CCIE, RHCA, or the VCDX; these puppies are not easy to get and, justifiably so, are very well respected in all areas of the IT industry.
    :study: Currently Reading: Red Hat Certified Systems Administrator and Engineer by Ashgar Ghori

    Certifications: CCENT; CCNA: R&S; Security+

    Next up: RHCSA
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