Is it a bad strategy to only do certifications your employer pays for/or recommends?

N2ITN2IT Inactive Imported Users Posts: 7,483
The new environment I just joined this week really seems to use that philosophy. While I was at lunch with a few co-workers we dicussed training and the certifications came up, and when I mentioned that I had did a few on my own I received blank stares. In fact one of the ladies said no way she would do training outside of work. She is a PM with her Six Sigma black belt and according to her she attended courses during office hours and received her ASQ BB cert. One of the software support guys did something similar with visual basic. I just found it interesting and exciting. I really don't want to spend my free time reading IT manuals and attempting certifications. I just recently found a change management course I am going to take through my company and so far it looks like it going to be approved. Thoughts? I am starting to get sick of the idea of studying certs for free.

Comments

  • EveryoneEveryone Member Posts: 1,661
    I don't know how others on here will feel about it, but that has been my approach, and most people I've worked with everywhere that I've worked have felt the same way. I don't have many certs, because I've only ever gone out and done the ones my employer required and paid for.
  • TackleTackle Member Posts: 534
    Everyone wrote: »
    I don't have many certs, because I've only ever gone out and done the ones my employer required and paid for.

    That is the only reason I have mine. Needed it to keep the MS partnership. I was studying for the A+ right after college but see no need to take it now.
  • networker050184networker050184 Mod Posts: 11,962 Mod
    If you only do the ones your current employer wants then you are just preparing yourself to stay put. I do certs to move on to bigger and better things, AKA the ones the next job will want. I've always had cert reimburesment where I've worked, but never had a job where they made me get a certain cert.
    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made.
  • EveryoneEveryone Member Posts: 1,661
    If you only do the ones your current employer wants then you are just preparing yourself to stay put. I do certs to move on to bigger and better things, AKA the ones the next job will want. I've always had cert reimburesment where I've worked, but never had a job where they made me get a certain cert.

    I knew someone was going to say something along these lines. ;)

    The few certs I do have, were required and the ONLY ones that would be reimbursed. Everywhere else I've worked has not offered reimbursement for certs, only for tuition. So you're lucky.

    While there are some companies that require you to have certain certs before they'll hire you, there are plenty that don't. Experience and the ability to demonstrate your knowledge are still king. Even those companies that require a cert for a position will hire the right person without one, generally with the caveat of "must acquire cert within 6 months of hire", etc.

    Certs don't hurt, but they aren't the golden ticket people want to pretend they are either.
  • N2ITN2IT Inactive Imported Users Posts: 7,483
    If you only do the ones your current employer wants then you are just preparing yourself to stay put. I do certs to move on to bigger and better things, AKA the ones the next job will want. I've always had cert reimburesment where I've worked, but never had a job where they made me get a certain cert.

    I can see why you would think that and it makes some sense, but I don't think is entirely accurate. For instance for my situation a formal change management course would be awesome. This course is outside the scope of my software support job however I am still allowed to take the course and learn the best practices of Change Management.
  • networker050184networker050184 Mod Posts: 11,962 Mod
    Everyone wrote: »
    I knew someone was going to say something along these lines. ;)

    The few certs I do have, were required and the ONLY ones that would be reimbursed. Everywhere else I've worked has not offered reimbursement for certs, only for tuition. So you're lucky.

    While there are some companies that require you to have certain certs before they'll hire you, there are plenty that don't. Experience and the ability to demonstrate your knowledge are still king. Even those companies that require a cert for a position will hire the right person without one, generally with the caveat of "must acquire cert within 6 months of hire", etc.

    Certs don't hurt, but they aren't the golden ticket people want to pretend they are either.

    Well yeah, certs aren't required, but they do help. Same with a degree, but people don't wait until they get a job to pay for it (some do I suppose).

    The way I see it is I enjoy reading about this stuff and definitely enjoy playing around with it. Might as well get certified while I'm doing it that can put more change in my pocket and advance my career.
    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made.
  • JDMurrayJDMurray MSIT InfoSec, CISSP, SSCP, GSEC, EnCE, C|EH, CySA+, PenTest+, CASP+, Security+ Surf City, USAAdmin Posts: 11,664 Admin
    Taking control of the direction of your career sometimes means paying for your own certs and degrees. Don't let an employer control your career by deciding what and when to train you. They are only think of what's best for their business and not necessarily what's best for your future earning potential either there or with future employers.
  • EveryoneEveryone Member Posts: 1,661
    JDMurray wrote: »
    Taking control of the direction of your career sometimes means paying for your own certs and degrees. Don't let an employer control your career by deciding what and when to train you. They are only think of what's best for their business and not necessarily what's best for your future earning potential either there or with future employers.

    While I agree that you shouldn't let an employer control your career, I don't agree with the rest of this. It is this mindset that produces the thought process of "If I obtain XX degree or XX cert, I will make XX salary" which is often followed by "I got XX degree or XX cert, but I'm having a hard time finding a job that pays what I think someone with XX degree or XX cert should make."

    I don't understand why people think they have to go into debt before they can realize their earning potential. Why start out behind? You don't have to pay someone else to teach you something in order to gain knowledge.

    I firmly believe that I do not need a piece of paper to validate my existence.
  • TurgonTurgon Banned Posts: 6,313
    N2IT wrote: »
    The new environment I just joined this week really seems to use that philosophy. While I was at lunch with a few co-workers we dicussed training and the certifications came up, and when I mentioned that I had did a few on my own I received blank stares. In fact one of the ladies said no way she would do training outside of work. She is a PM with her Six Sigma black belt and according to her she attended courses during office hours and received her ASQ BB cert. One of the software support guys did something similar with visual basic. I just found it interesting and exciting. I really don't want to spend my free time reading IT manuals and attempting certifications. I just recently found a change management course I am going to take through my company and so far it looks like it going to be approved. Thoughts? I am starting to get sick of the idea of studying certs for free.

    You are now at a level where nobody does study outside of office hours unless that is formally recognised by the company. Your company will invest in training on workstime on things they feel help their bottom line. Thats all you need to know. If you choose to study on your own time then ensure your company recognised this commitment from you and rewards you for it. If you choose to study on your own time and your company does not recognise this commitment or reward you for it then seek alternative employment but ensure what you are studying for has a demand out there!

    Beaware. It it sometimes MUCH better to work out of hours on *real work* of value to your company than to expend time, money and energy on certifications.
  • networker050184networker050184 Mod Posts: 11,962 Mod
    Everyone wrote: »
    I firmly believe that I do not need a piece of paper to validate my existence.

    I agree with this 100%, but unless you are hiring yourself its a moot point. Companies want people with qualifications including certs, degrees and experience.

    Besides, if a couple hundred bucks for a cert exam puts you in debt you are in some real financial trouble.
    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made.
  • TurgonTurgon Banned Posts: 6,313
    I agree with this 100%, but unless you are hiring yourself its a moot point. Companies want people with qualifications including certs, degrees and experience.

    Besides, if a couple hundred bucks for a cert exam puts you in debt you are in some real financial trouble.

    It really depends on the role. For a senior role your portfolio of experience will get you an interview, from there its really how you handle yourself face to face. You can have all the qualifications in the world but if you do not come over as someone who is bright, someone who can handle things and someone you can do business with in person you are totally hosed for a senior role. There are no qualifications or certs in these things.
  • EveryoneEveryone Member Posts: 1,661
    I agree with this 100%, but unless you are hiring yourself its a moot point. Companies want people with qualifications including certs, degrees and experience.
    It's only a moot point if you're trying to break into an IT career field. I know that's a tough thing to do these days. Experience still wins out every time. I beat out candidates with all kinds of certs and degrees with my experience alone.
    Besides, if a couple hundred bucks for a cert exam puts you in debt you are in some real financial trouble.

    Debt would more come from a degree than a cert. For certs, why spend the money if you don't have to? That's a couple hundred I could use for something else.

    Besides when you get to the level I'm at, a cert that would actually mean anything to anyone costs thousands, not hundreds. I don't need an MCITP to get a job, my resume shows I have experience at and above that level, and I can back it up in a technical interview.
  • TurgonTurgon Banned Posts: 6,313
    Everyone wrote: »
    It's only a moot point if you're trying to break into an IT career field. I know that's a tough thing to do these days. Experience still wins out every time. I beat out candidates with all kinds of certs and degrees with my experience alone.



    Debt would more come from a degree than a cert. For certs, why spend the money if you don't have to? That's a couple hundred I could use for something else.

    Besides when you get to the level I'm at, a cert that would actually mean anything to anyone costs thousands, not hundreds. I don't need an MCITP to get a job, my resume shows I have experience at and above that level, and I can back it up in a technical interview.

    Correct on all counts.
  • shodownshodown Member Posts: 2,271
    Everyone wrote: »
    It's only a moot point if you're trying to break into an IT career field. I know that's a tough thing to do these days. Experience still wins out every time. I beat out candidates with all kinds of certs and degrees with my experience alone.



    Debt would more come from a degree than a cert. For certs, why spend the money if you don't have to? That's a couple hundred I could use for something else.

    Besides when you get to the level I'm at, a cert that would actually mean anything to anyone costs thousands, not hundreds. I don't need an MCITP to get a job, my resume shows I have experience at and above that level, and I can back it up in a technical interview.



    While that is great it depends on the employeer. You would get passed on if we had a cert review coming up with vendors for someone qualified. Getting Certs matters at partners a lot. If you plan on being Inhouse IT you will be find, it you work for a company who makes it a business to sale solutions having the certs matters a lot.
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  • N2ITN2IT Inactive Imported Users Posts: 7,483
    Turgon wrote: »
    You are now at a level where nobody does study outside of office hours unless that is formally recognised by the company. Your company will invest in training on workstime on things they feel help their bottom line. Thats all you need to know. If you choose to study on your own time then ensure your company recognised this commitment from you and rewards you for it. If you choose to study on your own time and your company does not recognise this commitment or reward you for it then seek alternative employment but ensure what you are studying for has a demand out there!

    Beaware. It it sometimes MUCH better to work out of hours on *real work* of value to your company than to expend time, money and energy on certifications.

    Absolutely!

    I hope I didn't paint a picture that all these people had dozens of certs while getting paid at work. In fact I was under the impression most of them didn't have certifications or if they did they were "in-house ones". The software support guy had a MS VB certification and the PM had the Six Sigma BB. Those are the only two at lunch that mentioned anything. A lot of the employees did leverage the 80% tuition reimbursement. That is for bachelors and masters. I am a contractor however so I only get in scope certication training. At least in my department and I am cool with that.
  • cisco_troopercisco_trooper Too many Member Posts: 1,443 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Yeah, I study certs that will put me in my next position with or without reimbursement from my current employer and I only study for certs that I have an active interest in. I won't study for something if I'm not interested. I have never been forced to acquire any particular certification, but if I were I would only do so on company time and company dollar and even then I would probably reject the notion. It's a bad idea to force certification on people and bad ideas lead to bad responses.
  • docricedocrice Member Posts: 1,706 ■■■■■■■■■■
    My new employer hasn't required or mentioned certifications to me since I started a few months ago. It's not much of a concern for me if they never offer it. I don't look at certs as a job-qualifier - just a path to become more enriched as a capable professional. We just interviewed a CISSP yesterday and when we saw the well-advertised display of his credential on his resume, we shrugged.

    Most of my expenses related to certification studies came out of my own pocket. Zero regrets. For one thing, I can't wait for an employer to warm up to a budget approval. I'm simply not patient enough. At my previous job, the kind of focus I wanted to step into wasn't my primary day-to-day role, so I had to take action. In my current job, I need to accelerate my studies even more because looking at what I don't know is like watching an avalanche rumbling towards me. It doesn't have to involve certification specifically, but it does involve lots of studying and practice. A cert is a nice bonus for this shallow ego on one of my shoulders.

    Given where I am in life, I would continue this trend because I can't seem to get enough of it. The area of industry that I'm currently in is pretty demanding and for me to stay relevant (and to satisfy my desire to just make sense of it more), I'll fork over the money since I like things being spoon fed to be on the first round because I'm relatively stupid. Once I have those fundamental concepts into my head, then I can start applying them. This has just been the most efficient strategy for me given how my slow-moving brain works.

    It hasn't been cheap, costing me tens of thousands over the last couple of years. I did get a nice return on investment given career opportunities that opened up for me which I'm certain partially came from me being more knowledgable. I didn't go further into debt because of it though. I just sacrificed a lot of things most people take for granted. However, I've gotten a lot of fulfillment from learning the material and having better insight into things. That's the real payoff for me. When you can start seeing blonde and brunette and things start to make sense, it opens up a whole new world. That's fun.

    I'm sure I'm more of an exception than the rule. Not many other people like spending their weeknights, weekends, and holidays doing this kind of work. I guess "nut case" might be an appropriate descriptor.
    Hopefully-useful stuff I've written: http://kimiushida.com/bitsandpieces/articles/
  • DarrilDarril Member Posts: 1,588
    I've been in both situations and for me the correct answer is different for different people in different situations. As an in-house trainer, I was frequently reimbursed for certification expenses and it was just a part of the job to learn new technologies and keep up certifications. In this position, I can't remember ever pursuing a certification that wasn't paid for by my employer.

    In a different job as a contractor, the CISSP kept appearing in my research and reading, but my employer wasn't willing to pay for it. I earned it anyway and combined with other knowledge, experience, and certifications, it opened many doors that just wouldn't have been available to me without the CISSP. During the same time, another contractor with the same company pursued SharePoint certifications that weren't reimbursed and he since moved on to Microsoft. For us, earning other certifications was the right thing to do.

    Being a contractor is also consideration. Typically, an organization values full time employees much more than contractors and if times get tough, contractors are often the first to be let go. As a contractor, I am much more willing to invest in myself to stay prepared for other job opportunities.

    Darril Gibson
    Security Blog
  • blargoeblargoe Self-Described Huguenot NC, USAMember Posts: 4,172 ■■■■■■■■■□
    At this point in my career I'm more selective with the certs on which I spend my valuable time. If there's a real "cornerstone" certification that I feel that I really need I would not be opposed to paying out of pocket if my employer would not pay for it, but thus far I have not had that problem, save for my first IT job at a small integrator where the owner was a huge cheapskate when it came to his business and taking care of his employees.
    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...)
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  • JDMurrayJDMurray MSIT InfoSec, CISSP, SSCP, GSEC, EnCE, C|EH, CySA+, PenTest+, CASP+, Security+ Surf City, USAAdmin Posts: 11,664 Admin
    Everyone wrote: »
    While I agree that you shouldn't let an employer control your career, I don't agree with the rest of this. It is this mindset that produces the thought process of "If I obtain XX degree or XX cert, I will make XX salary" which is often followed by "I got XX degree or XX cert, but I'm having a hard time finding a job that pays what I think someone with XX degree or XX cert should make."
    This is only true of people who make baseless assumptions without doing hard research, or blindly accept the uninformed opinions of people on IT certification discussion boards. icon_lol.gif
    Everyone wrote: »
    I don't understand why people think they have to go into debt before they can realize their earning potential. Why start out behind? You don't have to pay someone else to teach you something in order to gain knowledge.
    Some people realize the difference between good debt and bad debt. Debt that is an investment in your family or yourself that can provide a positive return (e.g., education, home mortgage, supporting someone who may support you later in life) is usually good debt. Typical bad debt is buying disposable junk using a credit card. ;)
    Everyone wrote: »
    I firmly believe that I do not need a piece of paper to validate my existence.
    As someone already pointed out, in this regard it doesn't matter what you think; it only matters what the manager hiring you thinks. If you really don't like being defined by paper, you'd be tearing up your birth certificate, passport, Social Security card, and credit reports too.
  • Chivalry1Chivalry1 Member Posts: 569
    If I only studied for certifications that a current employer would pay for I am confident I would have no certification. Most past employers, including former consulting companies I have worked for, give you the run around when it comes to training and certification. However I have not had a position that 'required' for me to obtain a certain certification. But you can bet it was highly encouraged just not on the companies dime.

    In addition my brain does not allow me to sit idle. I am always reading something certification and non-certification related.
    "The recipe for perpetual ignorance is: be satisfied with your opinions and
    content with your knowledge. " Elbert Hubbard (1856 - 1915)
  • swildswild Member Posts: 828
    My employer has an Educational Assistance Policy. While it says that it will reimburse for all courses in which your earn a B or better, including degree programs, certifications, and other, the only thing they will reimburse me for is college tuition. They said that they will not get any return from paying for my certifications. I get the feeling that the only reason they are reimbursing my tuition is because they would be in legal trouble if they didn't. That did change my certification timeline completely and wind up costing them more money. Instead of the few hundred here and there, they are paying the full $5250 a year. I asked if it would continue into MS or PhD studies and they said that it would. Fine by me. I will be squeezing all I can out of them now.
    That is also another reason I went with WGU, it includes the CCNA and CCNA: Sec in the degree. I am considering their MS program because it includes the CEH, which I would like. They will pay for my certs one way or another. (evil grin)
  • hennrizzlerhennrizzler Member Posts: 23 ■□□□□□□□□□
    There seems to be a lot of people thinking that people learn certs for certs sake (like the generalisation that people seem to only take certs to boost their salary).

    Yes certs are useful and yes they can provide the salary improvement even if it's not clear cut that x cert grants x salary. What certs do is provide partners discounts and bonuses that companies love as well as show that employee at least has some knowledge in that area of expertise.

    I'm not saying that experience is only valid with a cert, far from it. Yes true work experience is 10 times better than someone who's only labbed stuff but what if you're in a position that you cannot get that experience? Certs are useful. They give you a structure to learn against if it is a topic you are weak in/have no knowledge in or just plain interested in.

    In topic with the OP, it would depend on what the company is asking you to study. If they are paying for it, why not. It's free experience and a free cert. If it's off your back pocket, then it should at least be something you are interested in or something you know you'll need to gain experience in in order to move your career forward. It doesn't necessarily give you the right to be placed in your "dream job" but it'll move you in the right direction.

    I would say that certs are useful and whether to do one would be on how worthwhile it is to spend your time on it. What is the net benefit you think you can get out if you put x amount of your time into learning and achieving that cert. Does the potential reward and benefits (knowledge, bonuses, other factors) outweight the loss of time you'll put in to learn and get that cert?
  • jonenojoneno Member Posts: 257 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Besides, if a couple hundred bucks for a cert exam puts you in debt you are in some real financial trouble.[/QUOTE]

    I laughed really hard when I read this. This is how I look at it, if I could spend $50-70 partying in DC. And $50 on some games, why can't I spend a few 100 buck on my career.
  • QHaloQHalo Member Posts: 1,488
    If someone is willing to pay, great, but I don't let that stop me from getting what I want out of my career. I recently paid for the ICM5.0 class for VMware on my own dime because I have experience in VMware but I don't do it currently as a job. I know it won't open up a dream career but it should help show someone that I'm taking control of my career path.

    Paying for certs/degrees/etc on your own is all about taking control of your career and putting down the path you want it to go down and not letting someone else control your destiny. Bottom line.
  • UnixGuyUnixGuy Are we having fun yet? Mod Posts: 4,147 Mod
    My employer pays for any certifications if I pass the exams. The require us to do certain certs for partnership purposes. However, it's my career path, so I do take additional certs that I think would help me improve my career path (I'm not wedded to my employer)
    Goal: MBA, Jan 2021
  • eserfelizeserfeliz Member Posts: 134
    Some people need certs, for whatever reason. Some people don't. For whatever reason.

    To address the OP more directly: if you're in an organization that values continuing education (for lack of a better term) only in situations that support business operations, and your co-workers plan on staying there, then I agree, they don't need to do much more than what they're doing right now.

    Now, if the company has a huge loss in market cap that triggers layoffs, or if your co-workers decide they want to move to a different city, or they're tired of coding VB applications, maybe a cert might make them more marketable. Maybe it won't. Everyone seems to have an opinion, but no one can really say; it really depends, as others have stated, on who exactly is doing the hiring for some company that has its own organizational culture to adhere to.

    I wish you all nothing but luck.
    MCP, HDI-SCA, MCDST, Network+, MCTS: W7C, MCITP: EDST7, BS: MIS

    In progress: MCSA (70-290 & 70-291), CCENT, CCA XenDesktop 5
  • powerfoolpowerfool Senior Member Member Posts: 1,647 ■■■■■■■■□□
    If your employer is willing to foot the bill, take it. My employer will cover many. I don't think I would limit myself to some list my employer would provide, however... just as was said earlier, it certainly helps you in your current job... maybe not so much for the next job. In my view, I make a list of what I want to have based off of my own reasoning. If I can get the employer to cover it, then I will. If not, then I will figure out how to do it on my own.

    My employer has been rather flexible in this regard, though. They have a formal training budget of $5k/year for each employee where half can be used for certification (with additional funds if approved), or the entire amount can be used for tuition reimbursement. Outside of that, they have courses provided by our internal training department and those are considered "free" by my boss. Also, we are able to wiggle lots of things through our normal expense system. I self-study most things because I can usually expense training materials and exams. I was able to expense the $1k VMware course through UCSC, so that worked.

    They do require certain certification, so those are always priority.

    Steer your own ship, however, or it isn't your ship.
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