Top 3 myths about certified IT professionals

June 3, 2010   //   SWC Technology Partners, , , , , ,

If you’re in the Information Technology field, you’re familiar with industry certification. Some may question the need for certification for in-house IT professionals or consultants, but I believe there is a distinct value to working with certified professionals.

Generally, “certified professionals” refers to an organization that has achieved partner level status with the vendor. For example, to be a Microsoft Gold Partner, the company must meet certain criteria, including having multiple Microsoft certified professionals on staff. Cisco, Symantec and HP have similar programs.

Some people (like myself) are “cert” junkies with a road map of certifications planned out for the next several years; others are adamant that they add no real value to their profession. Here are three outdated myths about industry certification that I hear most often:

Myth #1: Certification doesn’t measure “real world” skills.
I hear this a lot! But don’t be fooled: vendors have made big strides in testing “real world” knowledge on their exams. For example, both Microsoft and Cisco certification exams now contain robust simulations that mimic live environments. If you can’t fix it at the console, you won’t pass.

This is essential because technology changes so fast. Certification is a vendor-specific “seal of approval” that ensures IT professionals are on top of the technology and the changes. IT professionals often seek certification in their core competencies, so certs help them build deeper expertise.

Myth #2: Certification only benefits the vendor.
It’s no secret that vendors need to make a profit. However, they accomplish this by having the widest adoption rate of their product, not by creating certifications. To have the widest adoption rate, the product must be a cost-effective, manageable and viable solution for whatever technology need the solution fills.

I would argue that the higher saturation of a particular certification is indicative of high product adoption—so the product creates the certification not vice-versa. A larger pool of skilled individuals, via proxy of IT service providers, creates a competitive market for support options. A competitive market benefits everybody.

Myth #3: Certification = Higher support costs.
While hiring a highly skilled, credentialed IT professional to perform work may seem to cost more up front, the back end costs are ALWAYS much lower. Why?  If the planning, design and implementation phases are not done strategically or correctly, the project will inevitably generate higher costs in the long run from rework and change orders. I’ve seen many projects scrapped altogether or a complete “rip and replace” of a system that failed to get off the ground due to poor planning.

What’s your perspective on certifications for IT professionals?