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Certification Mistakes 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 disappointed.

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.


Certifications For Sale
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 certifications, too.
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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