Just how important/valuable is certification?

The question of whether IT certification has value has come up again via an article by Andy Klee. This issue has been debated on Twitter and elsewhere before.

In my opinion, certification is useful to the individual, in terms of having to understand the concepts and techniques that the technology requires; and to a company to show that the person has grasped those concepts and techniques.

But that is where it stops. Anyone who has worked on IT projects for more than a few years has met people with certifications but little practical and useful experience and knowledge. The opposite also applies – I know of people who are superb at what they do but don’t have a long list of certifications.

One of the mistakes a customer can make is to use the certification credentials of an IT provider as a measure of risk mitigation.

That gadfly of commentators, Dennis Howlett, has made his own comments about the certification article, and I tend to agree with him regarding its value to vendors who make big money out of charging for exams.

Some vendors – like Microsoft and SAP – make a big deal of certification, and probably have big teams drawing up new certifications. Other vendors – like Oracle’s JDE group – probably have not been given the same resources, with the result that Andy discusses.

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