Too many certifications?

GregDGregD Member Posts: 25 ■□□□□□□□□□
I'm curious if anyone here thinks it's possible to have too many certifications.

I ask, because I'm almost addicted to getting certified - the rush you get when you hit the submit button, the anticipation while you wait for your score, the proof that you knew enough about the subject to become certified on it.

And then you look at things like the Cisco certification program - after you finish your CCNP, it's only two more exams to become a CCIP, and if you took your CCDA, it's just one more to become a CCDP. And by now, the CCVP is just four more exams - another 8 months or so of studying and learning and lab time, and yet again, more under your belt, and a huge foundation for pursuing a CCIE of whatever track interests you most. And you know, the theory is still the same behind Juniper stuff, so why not take a bit of time to learn the specifics, and then get your JNCIE?

Or, how if you take the correct set of exams, your MCSA is also half of your MCSE.

Things are almost set up to draw you in and think "Hey, I'm this close already - why not go that last mile?"

And then if you go "You know, even though Microsoft dominates the industry, I'm a linux guy at heart. I should brush off some of the dust, boot up my RHEL server, which coincidentally is virtualized on my ESX box, study up on it, and then knock out the RHCT or RHCE. And since I know some vmware, I should attend some classes, build on that knowledge, and get certified there, too"

Obviously, I haven't done all of this - but I can feel the draw to, and given the years needed to do it, I could very easily see it happening. I've got a long way to go, though, from my current position of being in the middle of my CCNP.

Part of the problem is that my roommate and best friend is also in the IT industry, and we're both pretty competitive. If one of us is going to get a cert, the other one is going to too, just to not be outdone. I suppose the upside is that splitting the cost for equipment is pretty nifty.

But is there really a point? If you cram that much knowledge into your head, you're probably not going to remember it all - though, learning something once, and remembering the theory, makes it much easier and faster to pick back up on.

But are employers going to shy away, wondering if you're a jack of all trades, master of none, and pass you over for someone who seems more focused?

I dunno. I'm not exactly sure why I made this post - I guess I had just been marveling at how so many certifications and learnings seemed to link together, making it pretty easy to keep taunting yourself with the tune of "Just a bit more.", and wondering if there would really be a downside to just giving in, and pushing yourself to achieve something again.
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Comments

  • ajs1976ajs1976 Member Posts: 1,945
    Both my current manager and a past employer had similiar thoughts about people with a lot of certifications. With all of the testing and studying, do they have time to get any work done?
    Andy

    2017 Goals: 1 of 5 courses complete, 0 of 2 exams complete
  • GregDGregD Member Posts: 25 ■□□□□□□□□□
    ajs1976 wrote:
    Both my current manager and a past employer had similiar thoughts about people with a lot of certifications. With all of the testing and studying, do they have time to get any work done?
    Well, I figured it would likely be more of a worry of "With all of that testing and studying, how do they have any sort of balanced lifestyle?"

    For me, I just don't really sleep that much. I'll go to bed at midnight, wake up at 4am, fully rested. That gives me a handful of hours where I can't really do anything besides read/watch TV/surf the internet, whatever. So in the early morning hours before having to do anything, I can study undisturbed.
    CCNA - Complete
    CCNP - BCMSN, ONT Complete.

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  • rossonieri#1rossonieri#1 Member Posts: 800
    ajs1976 wrote:
    Both my current manager and a past employer had similiar thoughts about people with a lot of certifications. With all of the testing and studying, do they have time to get any work done?

    hmm.. almost the same thought aj icon_wink.gif

    but - if i have a lot of practises and the exam still have the corelation with the job -
    like i mainly focus on the infrastructure - so i might go with ccnp, or mcse, or rhce
    i can cut approximately 50% of exam study time - so why not?

    just my opinion.

    cheers.
    the More I know, that is more and More I dont know.
  • JDMurrayJDMurray MSIT InfoSec, CISSP, SSCP, GSEC, EnCE, C|EH, CySA+, PenTest+, CASP+, Security+ Surf City, USAAdmin Posts: 11,664 Admin
    Only put the certs on your resume that are relevant for to the jobs you are applying for. I've personally tossed resumes from people that had an arm's-length of certs and/or a Ph.D because I knew they wouldn't find the position I'm trying to fill challenging enough. I also know that people will have certs on their resume that have expired or they have not earned.
  • Gabe7055Gabe7055 Member Posts: 158
    For me certs are an excuse to study. I mean I need to learn this stuff anyway. Why not take a test and get a nice piece of paper for the trouble?

    Everyone starts out in help desk type work and than becomes an IT generalist but after that you start to realize what your niche is and you begin to focus on that extensively.

    In my opinion once you got to that point just focusing on the certs that are related to your niche is enough to keep you competitive and are probably going to be of an advanced level where you don't have time to study a bunch of other certs that don't pertain to your interests.
  • blargoeblargoe Self-Described Huguenot NC, USAMember Posts: 4,172 ■■■■■■■■■□
    To me, it depends on the situation.

    If I saw someone with no experience in their early 20's with a string of cisco certs, mcse, etc., that would be a negative for me. Someone that has been working for years in networking, a bunch of certs would only serve to reinforce their market credentials.

    Also depends on the employer and what they are looking for in a person. Some companies look for uber geeks that eat, drink, breathe IT, and others don't. I could see a million certs maybe indirectly influencing opinion about a job candidate along those lines. In most cases I wouldn't see it as a deciding factor.
    IT guy since 12/00

    Recent: 11/2019 - RHCSA (RHEL 7); 2/2019 - Updated VCP to 6.5 (just a few days before VMware discontinued the re-cert policy...)
    Working on: RHCE/Ansible
    Future: Probably continued Red Hat Immersion, Possibly VCAP Design, or maybe a completely different path. Depends on job demands...
  • networker050184networker050184 Mod Posts: 11,962 Mod
    In my opinion you should get certified in what you have experience with (except for maybe the A+ and N+). I never undertstood how you can be certified on a technology you have never used in a real situation. How can you be an certified systems engineer if you have never engineered a system??? If you get certified in things you know and are experienced in you can never have too many in my opinion. If you go just read a book and get a cert while it is still fresh in your head and then forget about it and move onto another book, one is probably to much.....
    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made.
  • GregDGregD Member Posts: 25 ■□□□□□□□□□
    In my opinion you should get certified in what you have experience with (except for maybe the A+ and N+). I never undertstood how you can be certified on a technology you have never used in a real situation. How can you be an certified systems engineer if you have never engineered a system??? If you get certified in things you know and are experienced in you can never have too many in my opinion. If you go just read a book and get a cert while it is still fresh in your head and then forget about it and move onto another book, one is probably to much.....
    I both agree, and disagree. A good portion of things you learn in certifications are very rarely used in the real world, so even with experience, you are doing a good amount of book study. In many cases, it's also quite possible to simulate real world setups inside of a lab environment.

    But simply learning things from the books, I agree, is no way to go about getting certified.

    I suppose the part I take issue with is "real situation", as I feel that a lab can provide quite a bit of worthwhile experience. It won't prepare you for everything - but neither does working on the equipment.

    I suppose a good example would be ONT - it is hugely a look at theory and basic configuration of VoIP, QOS, and Wireless. There is very very little in the material that can not be learned proficiently in a lab environment. There's no real difference in me using SDM to set up QOS on a production router and one that is sitting in my rack at home. Knowing what it looks for, and what commands used to apply things are the same universally.

    And then there is Juniper's current push to get Cisco certified people also certified with Juniper routers. Their material in this is pretty much solely explaining the differences between the Cisco IOS and JUNOS. It's no difficult task to setup an Olive and make that practical knowledge, and then allow you to go get the JNCIA-ER, even without "real situation" experience.

    Having real situation experience is invaluable - if something goes wrong, you have a much more practical knowledge base to use, and experience in dealing with the matter, so I am certainly in no way discounting it.

    But while I've never actually deployed a Cisco WLC solution, I do know how to do it, and I have real world experience with Cisco equipment, and lab experience with the Cisco wireless stuff, and I would feel completely confident if asked to do so.
    CCNA - Complete
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  • TeslTesl Member Posts: 87 ■■□□□□□□□□
    JDMurray wrote:
    Only put the certs on your resume that are relevant for to the jobs you are applying for. I've personally tossed resumes from people that had an arm's-length of certs and/or a Ph.D because I knew they wouldn't find the position I'm trying to fill challenging enough.

    From this I would say its a good reason why a person should put them all on their resume. If you toss it because you think they wouldn't be challenged, then your probably right, and have done both of you a favour.

    Or are you suggesting that you take off some certifications so that you can get a job you don't find challenging? Doesn't add up to me.
    Gabe7055 wrote:
    Everyone starts out in help desk type work

    No they don't.
    blargoe wrote:
    If I saw someone with no experience in their early 20's with a string of cisco certs, mcse, etc., that would be a negative for me.

    IMO this is completely ridiculous. If a person is that young its almost impossible to have experience, so what is the next best thing? Your saying you would rule someone out because in their extra time they have been learning everything they can, clearly have a passion for IT and have taken the exams to prove it??

    Sure, maybe for a particular position you're right. I may choose a 35 year old guy with 15 years experience over the 22 year old with tons of certs, but for a more entry level position are you going to hire the guy with qualifications or the guy who has none?

    The idea it could be at all negative is ridiculous IMO.

    Anyway, to answer the question. I think you should learn as much as you want and as you find interesting, whilst trying to live a balanced life. Of course, if your happy living an unbalanced life then thats not necessary a bad thing either.

    For me I was in an interesting position when looking for my current job. I'm young, have quite a lot of networking knowledge (picked up the CCNA too) and a lot of Unix knowledge (I could probably pass the RHCT fairly comfortably atm) and yet, I was applying to work as a programmer (where most of my skills are). This meant that people I spoke to didn't know what I really was, a coder, a network technician or a Unix administrator. But when it came down to it, the guys I was hired by loved the fact that my IT knowledge was so well rounded, and it was clear that I really breathe tech and love it through and through.

    I get the feeling that your quite similar to myself in those aspects. I'd say that there are fewer "hardcore" IT folk than otherwise, and the more you know and the better your skills are the more in demand you will be. Hell, maybe even not from a resume perspective (if you happen to be interviewing with blargoe here) but your going to be able to learn new things and pick up new concepts *very* quickly compared to most other people. Half the reason things like networking theory "clicked" with me was because of my understanding of programming and how a computer works at a lower level, and knowing more about how Unix works makes me a better programmer still.

    Don't sell yourself short, and don't be average. Learn as much as you can whilst your enjoying it, but don't worry too much about taking a break from time to time when necessary ;)

    Best of luck.
  • GregDGregD Member Posts: 25 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Tesl wrote:
    IMO this is completely ridiculous. If a person is that young its almost impossible to have experience, so what is the next best thing? Your saying you would rule someone out because in their extra time they have been learning everything they can, clearly have a passion for IT and have taken the exams to prove it??
    For me, it's largely been "Hey, I know this stuff. I've been renting dedicated servers and doing this kind of stuff as a hobby for years. Sure, I'm new to the field, and don't have a whole lot experience, but I know a lot of this stuff, and a lot of what I don't is vaguely familiar to what I do know, so it's easy for me to grasp it."
    Sure, maybe for a particular position you're right. I may choose a 35 year old guy with 15 years experience over the 22 year old with tons of certs, but for a more entry level position are you going to hire the guy with qualifications or the guy who has none?

    The idea it could be at all negative is ridiculous IMO.
    I agree here. Yeah, experience says you know how to do it, and is going to get you preferential treatment over those who only show the promise of probably being able to do it, but a cert shows you at least know more about the subject than an applicant who is lacking one.
    Anyway, to answer the question. I think you should learn as much as you want and as you find interesting, whilst trying to live a balanced life. Of course, if your happy living an unbalanced life then thats not necessary a bad thing either.
    Well, up until high school, I was a pretty big geek - not very social, spent most of my free time (Which I had a lot of during class) reading, etc. In high school, I became the opposite - out partying and socializing all the time. I still kept up with my real hobbies, which were all geeky, but mostly I just stopped sleeping to make time to cram everything in. Since then, I've gotten a lot more balanced, but every now and then, like before I take an exam, I'll spend a week or two locked down in cram mode, and then the next half of a month after that I'll be out partying in celebration. Though, I'm sure eventually that partying will be to take my mind off of failing an exam, because I doubt I'll keep up my 1:1 ratio for forever.
    For me I was in an interesting position when looking for my current job. I'm young, have quite a lot of networking knowledge (picked up the CCNA too) and a lot of Unix knowledge (I could probably pass the RHCT fairly comfortably atm) and yet, I was applying to work as a programmer (where most of my skills are). This meant that people I spoke to didn't know what I really was, a coder, a network technician or a Unix administrator. But when it came down to it, the guys I was hired by loved the fact that my IT knowledge was so well rounded, and it was clear that I really breathe tech and love it through and through.
    I figure a healthier understanding of how computers and networks tick can't do anything but good for a programmer, so more power to you!
    I get the feeling that your quite similar to myself in those aspects. I'd say that there are fewer "hardcore" IT folk than otherwise, and the more you know and the better your skills are the more in demand you will be. Hell, maybe even not from a resume perspective (if you happen to be interviewing with blargoe here) but your going to be able to learn new things and pick up new concepts *very* quickly compared to most other people. Half the reason things like networking theory "clicked" with me was because of my understanding of programming and how a computer works at a lower level, and knowing more about how Unix works makes me a better programmer still.

    Don't sell yourself short, and don't be average. Learn as much as you can whilst your enjoying it, but don't worry too much about taking a break from time to time when necessary ;)

    Best of luck.
    This really struck a chord with me - I do love IT. I find my job fun, I find learning about IT related things fun, and I find working towards bettering myself, in certifications and knowledge in general, to be a gratifying pursuit. Part of why I enjoy it so much is that it all makes sense to me. I don't do so well listening to instructors in classes, but let me sit down with the equipment in one hand, a book covering the why in the other, and left to my own devices, I'll end up with a strong understanding. Regardless, it's always nice to find people who have a similar drive.

    Best of luck to you, as well.
    CCNA - Complete
    CCNP - BCMSN, ONT Complete.

    Up Next - ISCW, BSCI
  • networker050184networker050184 Mod Posts: 11,962 Mod
    I just think a lot of people go about certifications the wrong way. A person with no experience may be able to lab up a situation, but as we all know a lab with no users and traffic behaves a lot different than a production network. Maybe it is just me but I don't think you should be "certified" in something you have never worked with.
    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made.
  • GregDGregD Member Posts: 25 ■□□□□□□□□□
    I just think a lot of people go about certifications the wrong way. A person with no experience may be able to lab up a situation, but as we all know a lab with no users and traffic behaves a lot different than a production network. Maybe it is just me but I don't think you should be "certified" in something you have never worked with.

    Rather than trying to qualify myself, I'll make it short and say that I've worked on equipment in a production environment with traffic higher than most businesses, and the configurations and problems encountered a no different than what I experienced in a lab before that.

    The only really unique issue with the setup was that Cisco made some horrible design decisions with their 3750s - when you make a stack of them, the stack only has one IP, and no way to report if only a single switch has failed. So you might have the bottom switch, which only has 4 or 5 users on it, die, and since you only have a handful of people complaining, and Orion says that all of your switches are up, the thought doesn't really occur that a switch has died.

    Yes, problems occur more often in a production environment. But the Cisco material offers you quite a bit of knowledge on how to troubleshoot them. You miss out on some stuff - Yeah, the Cisco material doesn't really go over the 4500 series, etc. But the quirks between different series of switches and routers aren't that large, and the documentation lets you get up speed quickly.

    If a healthy amount of lab experience didn't provide you enough knowledge to work in a production environment, albeit in a junior position - And the CCNA is a junior position sort of certification! - you really should have done more labs.
    CCNA - Complete
    CCNP - BCMSN, ONT Complete.

    Up Next - ISCW, BSCI
  • sprkymrksprkymrk Member Posts: 4,884 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Lots of good points on both sides of this discussion. I think the OP really presented us with 2 questions:

    #1
    GregD wrote:
    But are employers going to shy away, wondering if you're a jack of all trades, master of none, and pass you over for someone who seems more focused?
    In the earlier days of certifications (not so long ago really) if someone had more than 5-6 certifications he was suspected of either being a dumper or professional test-taker. And by 5-6 I mean a real mix, not the natural progression of something like CCNA, CCNP, CCSP, etc. or if they were all within the same field like MCP, MCSE, MCSE+I, etc. Now a days that doesn't seem so much to be the case since many IT pros are getting the vendor neutral stuff first (A+, Net+, Sec+) and then moving on to either MIcrosoft or Cisco, sometimes both - one as a "major" and one as a "minor". So it's very possible for a guy/gal with less than 5 years experience to have no less than 5 certs going in. So unless your certs are scattered to the 4 winds without a major focus area I don't think too many certs will ever hurt.

    I think it might just be a matter of prudence. If you are applying for a job at an all HP shop I probably wouldn't list my Dell certs, since most everyone knows they are just filler anyway.

    #2
    GregD wrote:
    I guess I had just been marveling at how so many certifications and learnings seemed to link together, making it pretty easy to keep taunting yourself with the tune of "Just a bit more.", and wondering if there would really be a downside to just giving in, and pushing yourself to achieve something again.
    I don't see a downside for those that really learn in the process. For those that just do enough to pass the test and then forget it all, the downside might come when you are expected to complete a task because you used that certification for leverage to get the job or promotion, but then can't perform when it comes time.
    All things are possible, only believe.
  • tomtechtomtech Member Posts: 39 ■■□□□□□□□□
    I'm addicted to certification as well. I'm 23, a senior in college, and graduating this semester. I have 3 years of IT helpdesk experience (T1/T2 for 300 users) and I'm working toward my MCSE right now.

    I am always going to study, train, and get as much experience as I can on technologies, and that will lead to more certs in the future.

    I don't think having too much certs is a bad thing, but you don't want to fill half your resume with that and have little experience to back it up.
  • tjcassertjcasser Member Posts: 38 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Addiction is a good way to put it. Then again, I'm the one who got a jacket at JavaOne for being the most certified person in the room... (and some would argue most certifiable...)

    I suppose some psychiatrist would say my push for the letters is probably some kind of compensation for something else in my life. Personally, I go for the certification whenever I have to learn something new for work, or if I learn something that's potentially useful down the road. There's no reason not to get credit for the self-education, and it gives my boss something new to list when we have to justify why we want to do a project in a specific manner. (For instance, as you can probably gather from my intro, I work in a Java shop. BUT, we have to interconnect with a SharePoint instance, and having a C# developer is handy on those not-quite-frequent occasions where we need to create custom web parts or the like, so this keeps the work in-house. The certification makes the argument to our client to not bring on another contractor easier.)

    On the other hand, maybe I do just like the snazzy lapel pins and plastic cards...
    MCTS: .NET Framework 2.0 Windows Applications
    MCTS: .NET Framework 2.0 Web Applications
    MCTS: .NET Framework 2.0 Distributed Applications
    MCPD: .Net Framework 2.0 Enterprise Applications
  • PlantwizPlantwiz Alligator wrestler Mod Posts: 5,057 Mod
    Good comments. I would say too that too many is bad, but that's easily tailored by only including relevant info on a resume (a general good rule to follow anyway).

    If a person has the experience and the cert matches their position, then it's worth having. If the work being performed never includes Cisco equipment, it's not relevant (IMNSHO) to go for Cisco certs unless it's simply an interest.
    Plantwiz
    _____
    "Grammar and spelling aren't everything, but this is a forum, not a chat room. You have plenty of time to spell out the word "you", and look just a little bit smarter." by Phaideaux

    ***I'll add you can Capitalize the word 'I' to show a little respect for yourself too.

    'i' before 'e' except after 'c'.... weird?
  • blargoeblargoe Self-Described Huguenot NC, USAMember Posts: 4,172 ■■■■■■■■■□
    If you get certified in things you know and are experienced in you can never have too many in my opinion. If you go just read a book and get a cert while it is still fresh in your head and then forget about it and move onto another book, one is probably to much.....

    That about sums it up for me
    IT guy since 12/00

    Recent: 11/2019 - RHCSA (RHEL 7); 2/2019 - Updated VCP to 6.5 (just a few days before VMware discontinued the re-cert policy...)
    Working on: RHCE/Ansible
    Future: Probably continued Red Hat Immersion, Possibly VCAP Design, or maybe a completely different path. Depends on job demands...
  • techleetechlee Member Posts: 7 ■□□□□□□□□□
    If you know the stuff and you got many certifications, to me it's a good thing. I have a lot of certifications, but I also have 12 years actual work experience. There are guys that worked with me that have more certifications than I do(including MCSE 2003) and have no clue on how to work with Windows 2003 server. I am currently training 2 of them on Network Connectivity. 1 of them has 23 certifications from in CompTIA, Microsoft, Cisco, and others and is not PC savvy at all. So, studying the cert stuff and getting the certs is not always a good thing.
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