Industry Certification VS life skills

I have a question to pose to you all. Which do you find more valuable:

The ability to pass a test created by the makers of a piece of software or created by a professional advisory board to become certified in a product or technology?


The ability to do the job or skills required without taking and passing a test?

Many jobs in the technology fields are all asking for certification, be it MSCE, MCSD, CNE/CNA, A+ and all the others. Many of these places won’t even consider a candidate unless they take and pass these exams.

The funny part is, now an industry has sprung up to meet peoples needs in this arena. There are hundreds of schools that promise certifications in a short time. Many of these work, but they only teach you to pass the test and not do the job.

But, if someone cannot pass the test, or refuse to take it, are they truly as skilled as they would like to believe?

What do the SDers think?

To deal with men by force is as impractical as to deal with nature by persuasion.

I know someone who passed a Visual Basic test without having written one line of code. I know people who are Microsoft certified web designers who couldn’t code their way out of a paper bag; people who have never touched HTML before the course and haven’t after it, either. I am a web designer and I have never had any formal training in web design, certainly no certified tests. You just can’t learn from a three-day course what you can in years of practice.

I have no idea if I’d pass a certifying test in my field. I’d rather not have to go to the expense and time of taking one. If I’ve been doing my job well for an adequate amount of time, I think that’s a much better measure than any test.

“Eppur, si muove!” - Galileo Galilei

I think the theory behind it is similar to my industry the hotel business. In my industry you can’t get into upper management unless you have a degree. (not all hotels but mostly)

I do not. Yet I am therefore paid less than those without a degree cannot be promoted even though those promoted around me and earning more must ask for my help.

I do understand that they feel that getting a degree (and it can be in anything) signifies that you put in time and effort and that should be rewarded. Still I can see both sides to an issue. Unfortunately a lot of industries have substandard employees because of blanket rules like these.

Of course the pat answer is go back to school. To wit (to wit??) I must reply, “I could if I didn’t have to work an extra 20 hours a week doing projects you can’t do even with your degree.” :slight_smile:

I have seen the old “degree” trap happen often also. My mother was passed up for promotion at an areospace company because she only had a batchelor’s degree and someone had a masters in animal husbandry.

To deal with men by force is as impractical as to deal with nature by persuasion.

I believe the actual life experience is in reality the best, but consider this. There are people who would/do put qualifications on their resumes that are not qualified. (i.e. say they have the life skills but do not). Now the potential employer might choose to test them, but in some cases this is not possible and others the person being hired is the only one that would have the knowledge so who would test them?

So the idea of a standard test was developed, this means the person passing the test should indeed be able to do the job requiring those skills, but of course there are people who can pass the test and cannot really do the job. But it is probably a better proxy than taking someone’s resume at face value.

If you can take the test you might choose to do so and get certified then you will have both. If a company has determined that they only want “certified” people you are not likely to convince them otherwise.

Just my opinion.


I am a municipal government employee, and we have to pass tests for jobs. Some jobs require specific certification, but all jobs require a test of some sort. I’m not too keen on it, myself. I passed my test, but so did several others, and while they did great on the test,they positively suck at the actual work. I had had lots of experience in the field in which I work now (customer service), and that is what’s helped me learn how to do my actual job, not the test.

BurnMeUp…I presume that they wanted the M.An.Hus. to assist in passenger comfort for the Pigs in Space program. :wink:

StrTrk777, the answer is the 90-day trial period, not tests. I have known way too many people who can pass those standardized tests, but who should not be allowed in the same building where that sort of work is being done. I understand your points and have seen it happen: a department needs a new specialty skill now and no one in the department is trained. However, with the low rate of correspondence between people with certificates and people who can perform, I am unimpressed by certificates.

(Hot button with me right now, of course. I am going back for my third try to be “certified” on some software. I talked to a fellow employee who has been using it for four years and who is sought by name for his services on the product by several Fortune 100 companies; he mentioned that on his last test he got a 45% the first try due to the irrelevant nature of the questions. At my last site, the operations area was filled with people who had multiple-level certificates for different products who often had to come to ask me how to use them–and I had never been trained on the software. feh!)


Let me add a few points in favor of formal education/tests:

A self-taught person may have big gaps in his knowledge due to the specific niche he’s been working in. You may have been installing NT servers in networks for the last 5 years, but it may just happen that you haven’t had to use TCP/IP in those networks, or the networks were all small enough to not require routers or multiple domains or any of that stuff. So now you get a new job based on your experience with NT, but that job happens to be setting up TCP/IP networks. Your employer has no way of knowing which holes in your knowledge will bite you later on.

A lot of self-taught programmers have terrible habits. They might have written zillions of little apps here and there, maybe even put up some web pages with Java applets and CGI and C++ back-end server code. But put them in a team environment, and suddenly you realize that they don’t document their code, they have no formatting habits, the don’t write maintainable code, etc.

On the other hand, there are a lot of guys out there with degrees or MCSE’s that just don’t have a clue. But at least the hiring manager can cover his ass if the guy screws up by pointing out the guy’s qualifications.

if we are talking about certificates, but not degrees-------forge it.
get one of those ‘Create An Award’ software packages & make up a phoney program.

Most employers just don’t check this stuff, & small private schools go out of business all the time.
To be safe, check out an old newspaper for private, non-degree business schools that have gone, well, out-of-business.
If you actually know the material & have the skills, this is not immoral.

We have met the enemy, and He is Us.–Walt Kelly

Of course nothing will ever beat on the job experience, but there is something to be said for certification. Certification says that you have reached a certain level of proficency. It is easy for an employer to check with the issuing body to make sure that the person is actually certified. Most Microsoft certifications do have a time limit on them, as new products come out a MCSE will have to pass new tests or lose their certification.

Or let me ask this question…would any of you ever consider going to a doctor that was not board certified?

“I have a way with small pretentious lap dogs”

There is a big difference between a doctor’s board certification and a person with an MCSE, first of all, many times you can study a few hours and get your MCSE with only a rudimentay knowledge of the programs, so long as you study what they plan on asking. Granted some of the programs are a little more difficult, but I know people with certifications in Windows NT who can’t work by themselves because they are unable to do the job.

Now anything that requires a VERY intimate knowledge of the subject matter is different, legal and medical boards, degree programs and such.

I think the issue at hand is, should companies place so much weight on these “certification” programs and pass by qualified candidates simply because they didn’t ant to spend the $900 or so to take the tests?

Don’t let the loveless ones sell you a world wrapped in grey.

Actually, the market is solving the problem on its own - The MCSE was originally designed so that you’d need industry experience to pass it, but schools have gotten so good at tailoring courses towards it that high school kids are getting MCSE’s now. As a result, in a lot of areas an MCSE is worthless unless you can show comparable experience as well, in which case it might get you a few more dollars per hour, and/or get you a job over another candidate with similar experience but no MCSE.

Around here, an MCSE without experience is almost worthless.

Tomndebb, I definitely do not disagree with you. I have seen many people as well who were certified in an area and they should not have been.

I was just saying that in very large companies (like the one I work for) trial periods have not caught on (yet) and so a standardized test is better than nothing (ITO - In Their Opinion).


I worked as a web designer at an IT recruiter. They couldn’t care less about certifications; experience is what they could sell. They tried to screen candidates for a while by giving recruitees general knowledge tests, and found they themselves had a better idea of whether a candidate knew what he was talking about or not.