Are certifications the norm?

N2ITN2IT Inactive Imported Users Posts: 7,483 ■■■■■■■■■■
I've worked for several different companies, some as a consultant and others as a FTE. In my experience certifications are very rare. Usually if a person gets one it's a company initiative like ITIL or Six Sigma, (these are real world scenarios I have seen). What have been your experiences? It says two things to me. Certifications aren't important to get jobs or if you have certifications you can get jobs more easily. Thoughts? I just find it rather bizarre that I have worked for 5 large companies and 1 small company and certifications never seemed to be the norm.


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    networker050184networker050184 Mod Posts: 11,962 Mod
    Most of the junior and mid level guys I've worked with don't care too much about certifications. The vast majority of the higher level people I have worked with seem to have more certifications though. Usually expert or professional level Cisco or Juniper. I guess if you have the drive to learn enough to get to that high level you usually take the time to get certified as well. It is also a lot more competitive at that level so the qualifications help set you apart.
    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made.
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    emerald_octaneemerald_octane Member Posts: 613
    You can get by without them. For me , without a doubt 100%, getting certified has helped me know "what I don't know" since you get exposure to a variety of feature sets with the given technology and start to apply that to the business. My stature within the organization has increased substantially.

    The only problem, as I increase the number and more advanced certifications, some of my coworkers expect more of me which is good. "Oh, you're a VCP, you should know this!" :D
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    FloOzFloOz Member Posts: 1,614 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Out of the 3 companies I have worked for in the past couple years no one has actively pursued certifications on their own time. The only time people would go for certifications is if the company sent them for training or were required to get it.
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    UkimokiaUkimokia Member Posts: 91 ■■□□□□□□□□
    I think it basically boils down to. Certifications are there to help you learn and expose yourself to a lot of things, and help seperate you from others you may be competing with for high level jobs.

    Otherwise lower level and mid ranged jobs with not a whole lot of competition may not be too interested in certifications.
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    devils_haircutdevils_haircut Member Posts: 284 ■■■□□□□□□□
    For entry-level folks like myself, certs are the only way to set myself apart as somewhat who is both committed and interested in studying IT-related topics. They also help prove what I know.

    Without them, I'd probably still be throwing boxes around in a warehouse, or even worse, still in the Army (gasp!).
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    olaHaloolaHalo Member Posts: 748 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Certs are not the norm at any company I have worked for.
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    ally_ukally_uk Member Posts: 1,145 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I havent got any got my foot in the door and worked my way up, The Linux vets who I work alongside also have no Certs and they are like gods when it comes to technology
    Microsoft's strategy to conquer the I.T industry

    " Embrace, evolve, extinguish "
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    darkerzdarkerz Member Posts: 431 ■■■■□□□□□□
    What's separated my skill set, aptitude and marketability has been certs, passion and experience.

    I hope the fact no one around me pursues them stays the norm.

    It pays well.
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    ande0255ande0255 Banned Posts: 1,178
    At the MSP I work for, I think everyone in Tier III roles have certifications in their area of expertise, they are the ones who work large scale issues and projects. The Tier I and II who just take incoming phone calls in a help desk capacity don't seem to work towards, or have any interest in certs or specializations.

    The people above me like engineers hold mainly CCNP certs, as we mainly sell and manage Cisco equipment. It's so, sooooo nice to finally work with certified individuals, and be able to talk Cisco with my coworkers.
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    docricedocrice Member Posts: 1,706 ■■■■■■■■■■
    You'll probably see quite a few certified individuals at VARs, partially because they need to know what they're selling, but also so it looks impressive on a card. They also get better discounts from vendor partnerships if that have a minimum number of certified xyz on their staff.

    It's interesting that certification in a technical business environment is less common than one would think, but then again on this forum that's all we practically talk about so we get used to it. At my company, we have several individuals who are certified, particularly GIAC ones, but that's not too surprising since it's a security company. Based on what I've seen, I probably the one in the entire organization who has the most certs, but ultimately I think most would just dismiss it as meh-material (for a good reason).

    I've seen a few people at other companies I've worked at who have certifications, but my experience reflects what others have said here. Most people seem to just want to do their 9-to-5 and then go home to their families. They don't necessarily have a driving passion with high-octane interest into the subject matter they work on enough to invest time into studying for the next hotness and gaining the paper to hang on the wall. Nothing wrong with that, mind you, as we all have different priorities.

    Plus, there are plenty of people who are passionate about what they do and are very, very good at it. And they don't need no stinking certifications to prove themselves.
    Hopefully-useful stuff I've written: http://kimiushida.com/bitsandpieces/articles/
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    eansdadeansdad Member Posts: 775 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I would suspect that those people either have been with the company awhile and moved up and/or they are not technicians/admins but more of an analysts type job with possible expanded job roles. I don't see why an admin would get Sigma Six but not CCNA.
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    N2ITN2IT Inactive Imported Users Posts: 7,483 ■■■■■■■■■■
    @ docrice you make some good points. I for one think certifications have pulled my career up at least one level but notice that a lot of people don't use that strategy. You mentioned passionate people and IMO that is the closest correlation between a person and how well they do the job. Coming in a very close second would be aptitude. From my experience certifications don't correlate to how well a person is going to do a particular job. I have been in the game too long and have seen from one side of the spectrum to the other.

    doc I also noticed that people who had solid degrees seem to possess enough to continue to move up. If these people decide to go for continuing education it seems like they go for a masters degree and pass on certifications.

    I will always keep an eye out for certifications that could help my career, but realize that the return is very subjective.

    @eansdad These employees I referred too getting Six Sigma worked for a manufacturing company and consisted different roles within the company. Admins, techs, analyst, etc. It was the LEAN version not BB or GB.
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    MAC_AddyMAC_Addy Member Posts: 1,740 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I think if you're set at a job and don't plan on leaving, then you shouldn't get any certs unless they require you to or if you're granted a promotion if you gain a specific certification. On the other hand, if you're at a company where you know you won't stay forever, then go and get as many certifications that you're interested in, or what you're most experienced in. Certifications are very good resume fodder. If you're looking for a job and post your resume on a site for potential employers to look for then list those certs! Sometimes when companies are looking for people, it's not the IT department searching, it's generally HR and they're given a list of what to look for. At least, this is what we do for the company that I work for. HR will go through a list and pick people with the most experience in the field along with individuals that have certifications.

    Now, I know that sometimes people get certifications when they haven't been in the field for that long, and that's exactly what HR is for. If you find a resume for someone that has CCNA and CCNP with 10+ years of networking experience, you'll know that person is more than likely a good candidate. You'll know if they're a good candidate if they fail the first interview. Which personally, should always be a phone interview for a few basic technical questions asked by HR.
    2017 Certification Goals:
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    N2ITN2IT Inactive Imported Users Posts: 7,483 ■■■■■■■■■■
    I think not getting one or two well placed certifications is silly to be honest. 2 months worth of effort and the return can be huge. Like MAC mentioned if you have the experience and a CCNA that is much better than just having the experience. I can see where someone would only want to do one or two though. Cost, time etc.
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    Jon_CiscoJon_Cisco Member Posts: 1,772 ■■■■■■■■□□
    I am currently preparing to switch careers and have started studying for my CCNA which I expect to obtain by the end of the summer. When I read posts on this site it makes me wonder if the certifications will help me stand out at all. Everyone seems to have a list of certs and current goals.

    Post like this remind me that it is a sampling bias and in the real world my certifications will help me stand out against an average citizen.
    I imagine that once people find a role they enjoy studying for the next best cert just seems like to much effort. I personally enjoy learning and like the structure that certifications can give. I expect I'll at least get my CCNP before I burn out.

    Great post very relevant to members like me.
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    ajs1976ajs1976 Member Posts: 1,945 ■■■■□□□□□□
    After 15 years and my recent experience at a fortune 100, i'm scaling back on my certifications. After a point the ROI of maintaining certs decreases to much. Should I spend the time learning obscure features of Windows 2008 that I will never use or spend the time covering the basics of Windows 2012 and vSphere that will help me do my job today and in the immediate future.

    2020 Goals: 0 of 2 courses complete, 0 of 2 exams complete
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    ande0255ande0255 Banned Posts: 1,178
    I would be bored if I were not pursuing new certifications and skill sets, someday that may change, but I'm not sure I've ever be that comfortable in a job that I'd be ok doing that same job role the rest of my life.
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    --chris----chris-- Member Posts: 1,518 ■■■■■□□□□□
    I have worked 1 IT job and interviewed at 4. Of those 5 places, certs were required/expected on 3 of them.

    Interesting, of those 5 only one encouraged certification. They also paid for passing the certs, gave you a CBT nuggets sub and allocated about 2 hours a week to "self improvement" time on the clock.
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    N2ITN2IT Inactive Imported Users Posts: 7,483 ■■■■■■■■■■
    @ Chris I worked at one place that had a government contract that was about to expire within 6 months. Since the government at the time was going crazy for ITIL they somehow got us access to skill soft and had us train on that for about 2 hours a day for 3 weeks. We then took the exam and if we passed they paid us if we didn't they still paid us but gave you grief, I know a few people that failed. They were expected to go through additional training and take the exam at a later date. They all passed the second time.
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    shodownshodown Member Posts: 2,271
    I've mostly worked in VAR environments where everyone had to have a cert to stay employed. Our Entire technical staff at the moment is a CCNP in some area at the min. Enterprise environments I think its not as important. The next position I want is a Network Architect. I'm sure I can get it without the CCIE, but a few jobs do pop up with CCIE required and I would miss out on those, but I feel at the senior levels you need decent certs and keep them renewed, but you don't need to go too crazy. Like if your already a CCIE and work with juniper gear as well getting a high level Juniper cert won't get you much more money.
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    wikigetwikiget Member Posts: 75 ■■□□□□□□□□
    The US government mandates certain certs for specific jobs in IT. In fact, they are in the process of standardizing it with the NICE program.

    All government employees, military and contractors are mandated to meet the requirements.
    "Once upon a time, disks were floppy, administrators were electricians and computers were louder then jets. Then it all got complicated." -Anon

    Life of a Network Security Manager: http://imgur.com/kKvmgjj
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    --chris----chris-- Member Posts: 1,518 ■■■■■□□□□□
    N2IT wrote: »
    @ Chris I worked at one place that had a government contract that was about to expire within 6 months. Since the government at the time was going crazy for ITIL they somehow got us access to skill soft and had us train on that for about 2 hours a day for 3 weeks. We then took the exam and if we passed they paid us if we didn't they still paid us but gave you grief, I know a few people that failed. They were expected to go through additional training and take the exam at a later date. They all passed the second time.

    2 hours a day and people still failed it? lol Maybe I am being harsh, but that makes me feel a lot better about myself.
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    TheNewITGuyTheNewITGuy Member Posts: 169 ■■■■□□□□□□
    This really depends. MSP/Partner jobs - certs make sense. Corp jobs, most folks dont care.
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    ChitownjediChitownjedi Member Posts: 578 ■■■■■□□□□□
    I've been contracting pretty heavily, and between the FTE and the other contracters I've worked with, id say it was around 10% who held a certification in IT. Less than that who had multiple.

    My Wife had our son in 2012, and took a year, off, in that year she has studied and gotten her A+ Security+ and today now received her ITIL foundations. She would be the most "decorated" person on my team if I hired her, but by far the least experienced and the the one I would least trust with high priority issues, because well, she's been working in IT for 4 months. She is at the point now that gaining certifications will start to hurt her as he experience is so small that her "book/theory," knowledge could not make up for it.

    However, I have been able to move up the ladder rapidly because I had experience, but didn't have certs...But I've still been given the cold shoulder regardless of my certs by other departments because most people need to see you in action with their own eyes, before they honor anything a cert says you should be able to do.
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    UniqueAgEnTUniqueAgEnT Member Posts: 102
    Yeah I would say that it really depends on the company. I have only been at one company, which happened to be my first company, that highly encouraged employees to go for certifications. They had specific certifications like A+ that needed to be completed in 6 months after starting. Since that company, I have met a few people with certifications but not very many.

    I would say that certifications can definitely help bring your resume to the top of the stack for certain positions. Consulting companies seem like the main type that will look for specific certifications, but there are a lot of companies that put certifications are a big plus on the job posting.
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    JDMurrayJDMurray Admin Posts: 13,053 Admin
    Corporate culture is said to determine if certs are valued or not, but I find it's really up to what each department manager thinks of them.

    In a large corporation, you'll see one department where certs are paid for and required to move up, another department where certs are encouraged but not paid for unless they are part of a training package, another where the department members razz anyone who mention certification to discourage people from improving themselves, another where the deaprtment head hates certs and nobody is allowed to mention them (probably because he couldn't pass the CCNA or CISSP exam after three tries), and still another department where none of the members have ever heard of this thing called "certification."

    It's all up to the guy (or gal) in charge to determine how valued certification is in their little corner of the corporate community.
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    petedudepetedude Member Posts: 1,510
    olaHalo wrote: »
    Certs are not the norm at any company I have worked for.

    Should be.

    It's called "external validation", folks. Someone external and (hopefully) non-biased (or at least not biased in your favor personally) has verified that you have obtained a certain level of mastery in a given technical subject based on a specific structured curriculum.

    Outside of that, there are all too many people who BS their way into IT with no structured foundational knowledge to show for what they're doing.
    Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.
    --Will Rogers
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    N2ITN2IT Inactive Imported Users Posts: 7,483 ■■■■■■■■■■
    @JD. I love the part about razzing the employees. I've seen it just like that so maybe my vantage point is a bit jaded, but real nonetheless. I've had a MS book laying out by my desk before and had someone walk by me and actually take the time to let me know that learning from the MS Training Kit is a waste of time. They went on to ask me if I plan on doing certifications and then said that they thought certs were a waste. What made this difficult was that they were much better than me at the skill I was learning, and they were a manager.

    With that said I have found that managers don't really care at least in the roles I have been in (nor good or bad). I possess quite a few certifications so for the record I like well placed ones that align with ones career path and where they want to go. But generally speaking most managers I have worked for look like they get moderately annoyed if you bring them up and state you want to do cert x to help you improve. I've mentioned them at quarterly and annual reviews before, that never goes over well, I don't get quite an eye roll but experience social ques to move on please. I also mentioned about paying for training and unless the employer had something directly to gain it was like driving a Ferrari up a hill that just was covered in ice.

    I have to be honest the push back and resistance has put me in a situation where I don't actively participate in certifications much anymore. Currently I am studying and learning about 2 different specific silos (PM and Databases) and will continue to do so.

    Thanks for all the replies.
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    no!all!no!all! Member Posts: 245 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I see a few people at my company with certs here and there...we have a few CISSP's a few CCNP's but most of them have degrees and have been with the company for over 10 years. Here's my take - I've always thought certifications go hand in hand with your experience and they also get you past HR when you're looking for a job. If you've got the drive to get certs on your own time go for it, what've you got to lose?
    A+, N+, S+, CCNA:RS, CCNA:Sec

    "In high society TCP is more welcome than UDP. At least it knows a proper handshake" - Ben Franklin

    2019 Goals: CCNP:RS & relocate to St. Pete, FL!
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    MSP-ITMSP-IT Member Posts: 752 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Within the security department of my company, the CISSP is the only certification recognized. It's seen as something only the more senior professionals have, and a requirement for the majority of high level security positions. That being said, I wish the company would allocate money towards completion and/or training towards the CISSP, especially if it's a requirement for lateral movement.
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