Why IT Certs Dont Add Up

Opinion: No need to whine over the fact that IT certifications aren't worth much. You'll need business savvy a lot more than an acronym.

Heres a good recipe for combustion: Take one survey on IT certifications, discover that these credentials could be viewed as a waste of money and then tell a bunch of techies that all those acronyms following their names are just about worthless.


A study by Foote Partners, an IT compensation and workforce management firm in New Canaan, Conn., found that pay premiums for non-certified IT skills grew three times faster than for certified ones in a six-month period spanning 2005-2006.

Translation: Certifications arent what they used to be and may just be a high-priced marketing device. May the whining commence.

As one reader wrote in response to eWEEKs article on the Foote study, "I was told by a HR manager that I needed more certs even with 9 years solid IT work history, so now with an A+, MCSA, MCSE, CCNA, CISSP and CISM, I know the next time I go in for a job they will look at a list of certs and find the one I DONT have to use it to bargain for a reduced wage. Utter bulls**t."

Wah wah wah.

Its a hard pill to swallow for the folks that blew their dollars on certs, but the conclusion isnt all that surprising. Why? Take this short quiz: Which employee would you hire?

A) Jack Programmer, MCSA, MCSE, CCNA, CISSP, CISM
B) Jill Linux, MBA

If you answered "A" youll never be a CIO. You may just be a lowly code jockey forever. If you answered "B" you could very well graduate from the ranks of being a CIO wannabe.

Maybe thats unfair, but it is corporate reality. CIOs these days dont come from the world of certs. They are businesspeople first. Technology is just a way to hit business goals. Bottom line: If youre talking MCSEs, chances are pretty good that your CIOs eyes will glaze over.

Theres also a supply and demand issue. Some of the folks responding in Talkback reported that they had a ridiculous number of acronyms. How big of an achievement can these things be if everybody has one, or two, or 10?

/zimages/5/28571.gifDoes certification lead to Linux jobs? Click here to read more.

The good news: You can move on from the certification-go-round. Here is some free advice from eWEEK readers.

  • "Many employers look for … people [skills] and other soft skills, especially for front-line or management-level IT types. This seems to be lacking in many IT folks. The majority of the ones Ive dealt with have trouble taking direction, listening carefully, keeping accurate documentation and being able to communicate in non-techno speak for the technically illiterate employers and managers they interact with daily."

Lesson: Speak plain English. Dont be a jerk.

  • "The certification/degree is worthless by itself. What is required to be a good IT person is the desire to learn and the willingness to master whatever comes your way. Dont whine that you are a Windows guy and you dont do Linux, learn it."

Lesson: Dont get stale. Keep learning.

  • "What we need in IT is TALENT and SKILLS, not certifications that lock us with a single vendor."

Lesson: Dont get pigeonholed by certs.

  • "I could not care less about certs. Show me a project you did and how youll help my company do projects faster and better instead."

Lesson: Deliver the goods, not the certs. IT words to live by.

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