You Don't Have To Make, continued
Error: Choosing A Certification Because
It's Easy To Get
Did you know that you can get "certified" by attending
a seminar? Yes, it's true. Some companies are angling
for a free ride on the certification bandwagon, and they're
hooking up with computer professionals hoping for the same thing.
What do these certifications mean? Nothing substantial.
Who do they fool? Nobody, except perhaps the people
who are lured in by the promise of certification rather than
by the material covered. Maybe you'll add a line to the
continuing education section of your resume, but think about
how you'll answer when an interviewer's finger lands
on that line and he says, "Tell me about this certification."
But putting aside certifications that are more hot air than
substance, the fact is, some certifications are dramatically
more involved, expensive, and difficult to obtain
than others. Acquiring Learning Tree International's C++
Object-Oriented Programming Professional certification
requires three core courses and two elective courses,
along with their associated examinations. The total tab will
run between $6,000 and $10,000, depending
on choice of savings plan and time frame. To become a Certified
Software Manager (CSM), on the other hand,
requires passing one test ($100) for which you'll
need to study a manual ($195) and/or attend
a seminar ($395).
Although the extent of the requirements should be a consideration
when choosing a certification, the most important aspect
is how the certification will serve your career goals. If
you're looking for a quick career fix and choose the program
you can complete most quickly, you're going to be
Does this mean that if a certification program doesn't
involve a half dozen tests, hands-on laboratory sessions,
and a slew of instructor-led courses that it's not
worth your time? Absolutely not. You don't have to
spend a fortune or devote a huge chunk of your time on certification
to benefit from it; what you must do is choose wisely.
The growing presence and value of specialized credentials has
lead to a familiar phenomenon: certifications not worth
the paper they're printed on. It's something that's
long plagued academics, and it's a concern with computer
A still large, but ever-shrinking portion of certification
sponsors, promise that you can earn certification solely
on the basis of passing exams that just aren't all that
difficult and are sometimes even open book.
Almost anyone can obtain one of these by paying to take the
test (and maybe cramming just a bit). The future employer
then receives an ugly surprise: the skills they hired someone
for aren't really there. This leads hiring managers to be
understandably wary, concerned that a certification may
only prove you're good at taking tests.
To protect yourself, always assess the substance of any
certification program before undertaking it. If you suspect
it's an empty credential, look elsewhere. These types
of programs give certification a bad name, and if you list
one on your resume, may well do the same to you.
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