Certifications Are Not Bad..Sometimes

“Certifications don’t mean anything. Experience is better. People who are certified don’t know anything.”

I hear comments like this all the time in my workplace and on the the internet, primarily on Reddit, from people that don’t have certifications or from people who have interviewed people who have certifications that don’t know anything about the material. They are wrong….kind of. I’m not here to discuss that. There are two types of people who take certifications. Those who study, break/fix, reconfigure and do everything in their power to understand the material and those that get brain dumps and memorize the answers.

To those of us (I’m including myself) that study and put in time, certifications do mean something. They mean that we know our way around x, y, and z. They aren’t some catch all “I’m certified so don’t argue with me!” bs. Those of us that put in the effort to learn are inquisitive and curious. We know a little bit about a subject. We know how to trouble shoot a connection. We know how to configure basic routing. We get certifications because we are learners and doers, thinkers, tinkerers that want to know more about a subject we may not know anything about. I may be generalizing but that’s why I got the CCNA. I didn’t know anything about networking beyond an IP address had 3 dots. But I wanted to know more and do more. The quickest way for me to do that was for me to grab a book and study. I bought a CCNA book because there wasn’t a “HoW nEtWoRk!” book out there. I studied for four hours a night after I got home from working 8-10 hour days and I labbed in the morning, at night, whenever I could. I wanted to understand networking and figured a CCNA book would help me do that.

I applied myself. Did I know everything? No But I was learning the same way anyone else would and I was getting experience while I was learning. I took that test and passed it on try number two.

The second type of person that I want to talk about is personified in the Dilbert comic above. These are the people that think that as long as they are certified it makes them special. These people are the type of people that use brain dumps and memorize the answers. They are afraid to admit that they don’t know something because they don’t know if they should know it or not. They haven’t read the material, or they skimmed it, got a brain dump, didn’t get caught cheating and passed the exam. These individuals boast about their skill, their certification but when it comes to it they make up bs or can’t perform their duty.

What I’m asking the people who think that certs are meaningless is to take a look at what the person did to get the cert. Did they study? Did they lab everyday? Are they eager to learn? Or do they not care? Did they do it because they heard IT was easy? Do they know what they are talking about? These types of questions should be in the back of your mind when you are interviewing them. Not all of us just want to get the cert. Some of us want to learn and grow


I hear people saying all the time “Well you need the cert to get past HR” If we assume they aren’t looking for a certain skill set because “people who are certified don’t know anything” here are two reasons that the certification is listed in the job description 1) They want to guarantee familiarity with a product line. 2) They get discounts from the company for hiring X amount of whatever cert vendor they have.

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