In the last post, I talked about questions you should ask in an interview. Today I want to talk about certifications, as there’s a bit of a good connection between the two. But unlike my last post, this topic is a bit more long-term and strategic. You’ll understand why in a bit.
So I definitely acknowledge the fact that the I.T. industry still holds certifications of great value, and it is for good reasons. For me, there are 2 good reasons for getting certifications.
- To open new doors of opportunities or to help you get job interviews.
- The actual skills you acquire going through the certification process.
I must admit that, personally, I don’t put too much weight on certifications nowadays. But this does not mean they have no value for me anymore, nor I’m discouraging taking certifications, that’s a case by case basis. Some certifications may be becoming more significant, some may be going downhill. Times change so this is absolutely normal. This post is entirely about taking certifications if they are fit for your purpose. And I may be able to help you identify if this is so. You’ll see as you read through this article.
Now before you even get into considering whatever certifications you have in mind I do recommend making a conscious effort first to identify what skills or technologies you would want to move forward with.
- I say this because, beyond the certifications, it's picking up the right skills for you is what matters. Whether those skills do have certification programs or not.
- Take a look at what skills you have right now, and also take a look at the technologies coming up around our industry. Just study them and see if you can draw out any patterns or connections which you think can work well for you.
- Ask yourself the question - which one of these paths will align with my long-term goals? The worst thing that can happen is for you to spend years on skills which do not matter to you in 5 years time for example.
Now there’s a whole bunch of certification programs out there. You must be thinking which ones to take first. With this question, I think I have already given some basic points above but let me add on to them.
Cheer like a Star Wars fan!
First is you need to believe in the product. It's really hard to keep on working on something if you are not a fan of it or have no belief in it at all. Also, try to assess if this product is really something that will survive over time. I know this is hard but if it dies 4 years down the line, there goes your return on investment. I know that products do take a while and need to hit a certain level of success before they even launch a certification program but my point is your time and effort is worth a lot, even more than the money you will spend. So be careful in selecting one.
Observe and analyze
Now also look at the market. These products are made to cater to a certain market. Look at how the market is responding. Is it growing? Don't be fooled by the noise they are making. It's all part of the show. But see what their customers are really saying, what their experiences are. Check out their forums, their community channels. You will have a good feel if this product will come out successful. Also, take a look if you can build other skills around this product. Is it so proprietary? Does it have open APIs? Today's world is all about integration and interoperability. There are so many players out there and they all try to squeeze in a certain layer in the ever-growing stack of IT, and if they can't they will create their own layer. But you hear API's everywhere and architectural shifts to accommodate modular designs so it's a real thing and something that you might want to consider in selecting a product or technology.
If you are considering multiple certifications I guess ask yourself first why do you need it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s perfectly fine. But it has to make sense, so it becomes worth it. Some of the points I have given above could help you narrow it down. However, there is also nothing wrong with specializing in just one or two technologies. This is how you can differentiate yourself and have more chances of increasing your value. If you plan to do more then maybe have it a side-skill as of now and concentrate on the one or two things which you think are most valuable. You can slowly progress to specialize in the others once you are comfortable with the existing ones you have. Depending on the technology, even just one skill could be a whole lot and so try to measure the mountain you have to climb against what you can, as we all have limited resources.
I’ll leave it here for now. But before I wrap it up completely I’d like to share some advice for those who are new to this blog. I’ve written some tips related to a practical approach to studying technologies for your career. Make sure to check out this post to find out. If you’re still quite new to the industry, I suggest not to stress too much, and I explain why in this post.
Since you're reading this, I'd like to ask a question before I let you go. Are you preparing for any I.T. certification at the moment? If so, you might be interested in participating in the survey below. Don't worry it won't take much of your time.
I hope you found this article helpful and if you have any questions let me know by getting in touch through my contacts. I'd love to hear your feedback.