5 Reasons Why Techs SHOULDN’T Get Certified

Why Techs Shouldnt Get Certified

Certifications receive mixed praise and opinion on the Technibble forums and the result of any cert based thread often ends with a 50/50 split for and against. I’ve decided to broach this tricky topic by writing about them in a bit more detail, today I’m leaning towards the negative view of certifications and how they can be detrimental to our progress. In truth there are many reasons but I’ll focus on the 5 I believe to be strong deciding factors to leave those books stacking up in the corner.

Certifications are time consuming

Industry certifications are all immensely time intensive study tracks and you only have to look at a single study guide to know what I mean, I’m quite sure some of them could weigh down air balloons or be used to build solid structures. The point I’m making is that we’re all exceptionally busy with our businesses, if we’re not with customers we’re working to get customers and if we’re not doing that we’ll perhaps improve processes, add to the website and maybe if we’re lucky we can sit down with family and friends for five or ten minutes. How on earth do we squeeze so much information into our heads when we have so little time to do so. Cert advocates will quickly rise and tell you that you can take your time and spread it over the weeks ahead, my view is that if you stretch out the study and learning process to much you’ll soon start forgetting the first few chapters especially if you’re not putting in time to do the exercises.

Customers don’t care about industry certifications

The biggest kicker of course is that in the tech repair industry our customers couldn’t care less about our certifications, in my entire IT career I’ve only had one person ask and I could tell they wish they hadn’t. In truth customers have enough to worry about in getting their computers up and running, they don’t want to have to interview you first. That’s fair enough but again it begs the question, why get certified? This issue resonates with business customers as well, if you’ve got a reputable business, the experience and perhaps some form of reference then other businesses will often welcome you in to do work on their networks with little thought for actual paper proof.

Things can get expensive

Getting certified doesn’t come free of charge of course; costs can start to mount up depending on your chosen method of study. The cheapest way is to buy the official books, read them, then buy and sit the exam. Let’s take a typical entry exam the 70-680 Configuring Windows 7 by Microsoft Press at $36.91 from Amazon then the exam cost of about $100, you’re already down $136.91 for one exam and that’s assuming you pass the first time. However its more common practice to purchase the book alongside your preferred learning method whether that’s training videos, online training or perhaps classroom training for potentially $100s possibly $1000s of dollars. If you’re lucky enough to be in a day job that assists with your training costs then this might not be a huge concern, for the majority though, we’ll continue feeding customer profits into the training schedule.

Choosing the right certification is difficult

With hundreds of certification options available, choosing the most valuable cert for you is often a difficult endeavour in itself. Having chosen such a varied career path how do know which will provide the most value in the short and long term? It’s often a difficult one to answer not being able to see your own future, typically we’ve no choice but to train in the technologies we’re use right now, hello Microsoft.

Most Certifications need to be upgraded

After giving up most of your spare and parting with your well-earned cash you may be forgiven in thinking you can take a rest or have a prolonged study leave to concentrate on your core day to day goal of building your business. Sadly most vendor led certifications have a shelf life; these days technology and particularly software can develop, upgrade and grow at tremendous pace often leaving your well-earned Microsoft status far behind you. To learn someone has an MCSE status may at first sound impressive until you realise it was achieved some years back on Windows NT. The certification upgrade process can be a deeply depressive thought, more time and more money.

Certifications can be stressful

Treading the path towards certification can be a difficult and stressful process. You’re trying to run a business, support a family; perhaps you have a social life? (If you’re lucky) These things can be quickly affected by choosing to lock yourself away for hours of self-study which ultimately affects you personally. Sometimes with combining aspects of your life, having to squeeze in study and certifications is an exceptionally stressful process, you would be forgiven for not opening those pages.

Nobody said certification was easy but is the hard work really worth the pay off? Do you really get enough return for the investment in time and money? As usual, your views and thoughts are greatly appreciated, please comment below.

On to part 2 of this series: 6 Reasons Why Techs SHOULD Get Certified



Ric Chapman

About the Author

Ric has been in the IT support business for 12 years driven by his love of tech and passion to help others. Ric carries several certifications from both Microsoft and CompTIA and worked in a myriad of support environments, that experience he now puts into developing his own IT consultancy business.

Comments (56)

  • Jim Beddow says:

    my experience is that uncertified techs learned what they know by trial and error and don’t have the depth of product knowledge and interoperability to solve any but the most routine problems. I always ask about certification and education before engaging someone.

    • Lopez Zondek says:

      Certifications are great, if they are a true indication of your technical abilities, but the fact is unless you are using the skills learned on a regular basis you forget the skills and therefore the certification is meaningless.
      Training institutions are businesses, and convincing their students that they need a degree or greater to be worth something in the workforce is good for their bottom line. This in turn breeds recruitment staff, who themselves are graduates, and are more concerned about the school someone went to than what experience they have. In a technology driven industry like ours, what you learn in 1st year is irrelevant by the end of a 4yr degree. I am not suggesting that a degree/cert doesn’t have a place, just that they be put into perspective, and that learning on the job can produce just as valuable an education.

      • Larry says:

        Lopez, I’m with you. I’ve got 23 yrs in the business and would say most customers would rather work with someone who can explain things to them in laymen’s terms while giving them realistic time frames. Tech’s who have all the know-how in the world aren’t worth a dime if they can only speak to other tech’s, which is what I find at certification classes. I hear phrases like, “These idiots don’t know what they’re doing”, or “You wouldn’t believe this one lady…” when they speak of the people who basically put food on their table and pay their bills. I have my MCSE and CCNA and bristle every time I have to take a class because I have to sit with people who disrespect the user community. I don’t think most customers care when you tell them you’ve got xxx, yyy, and zzz cert’s. They want to know WHEN you’ll fix their computer, and for how much $! Cert’s aren’t nearly as impressive as they were 12 yrs ago.

    • John McGrath says:

      Jim a certification has nothing to do with depth of product knowledge and interoperability. They do NOT teach you any product knowledge in any certs. I have multiple certs and really the are like a boat you just keep sinking money into them and in the end you don’t get much out of it. Except you dust off the boat or your “certificates” on the wall to show off once in awhile. Real world knowledge and hands on experience will smoke any book worm that has 99 certs. I will and have put that up to task with me being proven right every time.

    • AlphaDog says:

      My experience is that certified techs learned what they know by reading a book and don’t have the depth of product knowledge and interoperability to solve any but the most routine problems. I don’t bother with certification and education before engaging someone… I’d rather find out what they’ve experienced in the real world and if they can figure stuff out on their own.

  • Stuck up says:

    That’s funny Jim, my experience is the opposite. Certified techs who can’t do the most simple of tasks. Hired a certified Exchange Admin once and he couldn’t even create a mailbox without constantly referring to his manuals. Overall, certified techs, imho, take 2 to 3 times longer to solve complex problems.

    I’ve found that Techs with years of experience without certifications are much more like to do “more with less” and are much quicker problem solvers.

  • Eric says:

    I would agree with Stuck Up – I’m not a senior engineer with the US Government but also do side work where I can. I broke into the industry by getting certs – but by and large, ESPECIALLY MSFT – their certs are useless as are their “official curriculum” classes…they don’t teach any real world knowledge.

    I “had” multiple MCSE’s, MCSA, CCNA, CCNP, and then some but let them all lapse once I got my government job because they don’t care about certs. The cisco classes and certs are so much more relevant to hands-on for real world problems.

    I can’t tell you how many MCSE’s I have seen that completely lack the most basic troubleshooting skills. People who are truly good in this field have an aptitude for it and genuinely like their work…and you can sniff it out in about 5 minutes in an interview. The people that just passed some certs and are looking for a quick payday and by and large useless in my opinion.

  • Ryan says:

    I don’t have any certifications myself, however I have attended formal schooling in the field to help fill in the gaps of my knowledge. Like the story says, customers don’t care about certs generally. At the same time, when I finally hire additional techs, I’ll definitely look more favorably at resumes that list certs… but I can’t say I would require them.

  • Patrick Palmer says:

    LIFE can be stressful. I’m not saying that certs HAVE to be a requirement, but they do provide a baseline knowledge. Why have a driver’s license? Those tests can be stressful and they provide a baseline knowledge of….driving. I wouldn’t poo poo all of this, as some platforms require certs to do their work, AND sometimes, it just gives the customer a “warm fuzzy” once in a while.

    Here’s what I say, “If you think that my professional services are expensive, hire an amature sometime!”

  • Derrick Wlodarz says:

    Nice article – even though I happen to disagree with the points and am an advocate for certification as baseline for knowledge and an indicator of someone that is capable of being trained for a given skill area. I won’t say Certs are the end all be all (I’d rather see someone with a college education, honestly) but I won’t discredit them entirely. I also think certifications show dedication to the technology field, something that does give folks the edge in my book when being interviewed to work for me. It may not say the person is an expert, but it does show their true character and where they are dedicated on heading in life.

    You raised many good issues which are valid and I do hear from people on the other side of the debate.

  • Jason says:

    I don’t think Certs or degrees prove anything in any field. I have known many college grads in a lot of different fields that have no common sense or the ability to actually figure things out on their own. Just because you can read a book and remember stuff to pass a test does not make you an expert and does not mean you will retain enough to complete the job a year from now. Real world work experience almost always beats out book learning. Now having both where one fills in where the other left out, that might not be a bad thing.

  • Georgina ford says:

    Interesting article, A subject I often find myself thinking about. Having worked for myself since the 1980′s I have found like Ric that most clients are not worried about what qualifications you have, rather can you fix their computer. I have however taken several college courses to satisfy my curiosty as to wheather I do have the knowledge. I was shocked to see that a person can go on a COMPITIA course with know prior knowledge , take a multiple choice exam and go out into the world as a’qualified ‘ technicians. Most of the course the tutor and I spent our time reminising about technology gone by while the students looked on not having a clue what we were on about

  • Georgina ford says:

    LETS TRY THAT AGAIN …..

    Very interesting article Ric. A subject I often find myself thinking about. Having been in the business since the 1980’s I too have found that the majority of clients are not concerned about what certs you hold, more can you fix their computer? Just to judge my knowledge however I have taken several college courses and have been shocked that students doing these courses do not require any previous knowledge of computers. Take the CompTIA A+ for example, while the lecturer and I reminisced about technologies gone by most of the other students didn’t have a clue what we were on about. I ended up digging through my storage to bring in such things as a dial up modem so that the students could see what they were. These students only had to pass a multiple choice exam and then could go out into the world as ‘qualified’ technicians. Unfortunately it’s the Certificates that get you through the door when seeking to work with larger businesses, but its experience and hours of brain ache when a computer respond as it is supposed to that gives you the knowledge.

  • Tim says:

    I totally disagree with this post.

    Yes, it doesn’t matter if you being asked or not, but just knowing you certified to do the job gives one more confidence doing the job, but moving in the direction repairing businesses computers, they would like to make sure they have a professional on the job, and by not being able to provide a certificate, can cost you big money….

    In South Africa (not sure how things work on your side) we currently moving into the NQF 4, 5 and 6 range. Doing the Microsoft and Comptia exams, you already have a national qualification of number 5 (NQF 5), without that you will not be able to really operate efficient in South Africa.

    Not that anyone kicked me out or anything, or been asking, but just cover all the corners makes one rest assure….

  • Luis Miguel says:

    Well, imagine you have a repair shop, you advertise on one wall/showcase something like “Microsoft certified technician”, will not have a very positive impact on your clients? Can it give you an edge over the competence? I think this can be very positive.

  • chuck817 says:

    Certs at the high end of the field mean everything to get your foot in the door so to speak but your interview skills mean more.
    but to the average small business (where all the money is)they mean absolutely nothing all they care about is the bottom line (how fast can you fix this problem so i can get back to making money)

  • TechLady says:

    Unfortunately as a female–and perhaps a few other minority groups feel this way as well–I have always felt it was necessary just to establish the same credibility. And maybe it wasn’t necessary, but it made me feel really good and I thought it was fun, actually.

  • JR Batson says:

    In the decade that I’ve been in business for myself (20+ years in the industry) the only time I’ve had someone care about certs is the big national contractors, who don’t want to pay what we’re worth anyway. None of my clients have ever asked about certification, and frankly don’t care. If you can fix their problem in a timely manner, then they’re good.

    I can’t count how many times I’ve seen a certified tech that couldn’t troubleshoot their way out of a wet paperbag. Certs might be pretty to look at on the wall, but I have better things to do with my time and money.

    • TechLady says:

      The problem is experience. You need a ton of it to really do things right, and without that, memorizing test questions won’t help much. The good part is if you do have a lot of experience, you won’t have to study nearly as hard.

  • Jim Boyd says:

    I seriously disagree with this article and, frankly, I find it very hypocritical, considering the writer’s profile boast that he “carries several certifications from both Microsoft and CompTIA…”

    • Bryce Whitty says:

      The next article (already written) is “X reasons why techs SHOULD get certified”. Ric is covering the two extremes.

  • Thomas Computers says:

    As for me, I feel as though it’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it. I have a college degree from DeVry, the A+ Cert that I have is just a compliment.

  • Thomas Milham says:

    Wow, thanks for that!
    I did my basic (very basic that is, too easy!) cert this year… Cisco ITE, the lowest…

    I did it in Year 9, while it was running as a Year 11 class…I am glad I did it this year at all rather than Year 11!

    Thanks Technibble!

  • Antoinette says:

    I find these comments and the article all very interesting. I have a daughter in College for IT. I on the other hand have the many years of “hands on experience”.
    She envy’s me my computer abilities and I am always very curious to know what she is learning. Works both ways.
    I am really enjoying this site and the newsletters that are coming my way. I just had a router problem again (which I fixed) because I just bought a new Brothers Laser Printer that is wireless but I have not yet figured out how to set up to work with my Netgear Router. I am sure I will figure it out after days of online studying but it would be nice if anyone could direct me in the right way. I have a Netgear Router DGN2200 v3 and a Brother HL 2270DW Run Windows XP Home Edition on a Dell 6000 Inspiron 2005 model. 2GB RAM Intel Pentium 1,50 Ghz 80 GB HD. Thank You anyone. Antoinette

  • robert says:

    I think you all full of it, you cant get work without it no one will hire you. so for the case of cert I would have to say I enjoy the information and this discussion is a waste of time.

  • dan says:

    Time Consuming yes…..As in anything in business you have to put time into it in order to get anything out of it. If you scheudule your time accordingly then you can easily make time in each day or every other day and do some studying in order to be ready for a test. Very very few exams I know of can’t be done in about a 90 day period which gives you plenty of time to study and review and not take away from other things.

    Customers don’t care…Yes and no. The typcial customer that calls for a virus removal is probably not going to ask if you are A+ certificed or if you have your MCP. BUT, that is not to say a business won’t. Everyones area is different so nobody can say for sure about your area except you. If a business in my area is looking to hire a company it is not just a simple phone call. There will be meetings, appointments, capabilities letters and everything else. I put on each and every one of our capabilities letters our certifications and know for sure that has won us business contracts due to other comapanies not having them.

    Expensive….A book and real world experience will pretty much get you thru any test. if you are spending thousands in order to get a certification then you might want to look and see if this is really the industry you belong in.

    Right certification…There are basics just like in everything else: A+, Net+ Security+. if you just do the basics that is enough to get started. Security is of major concern to everyone in the world so a Security+ certification would be beneficial no matter what.

    Stressful…If you are disorganized then yes extremely stressful….But, if you plan your time, you know the industry and you are a good tech then it should be no problem to pound out an exam or two in little time, at little expense and who knows you might even learn something.

    Of course there will always be those that say “paper certs” and yes there are those out there but are you going to be one of them? Or are you actually a very good tech that has decided to take the next logical step and do whatever you need to advance your knowledge and your career?

    “Eric”…you should know working in the US Government how important certs are…i.e. DOD 8570….You can have a degree or whatever else you want in the government but you ALSO will do certs to keep your job.

    Bottom line…Can you get a job without certs…yes…Can you run a business without certs…yes….Can you find your business failing or the job market drying up very fast…YES…you might want to think big picture and what is going to make you marketable at all times…..

  • Shaun says:

    Never knew we had such angry techs! …lol
    I understanding that this is some of the most valuable points for this side of the argument. I have to say you can’t discount most of the points made.
    ….The best one in my book being a Cert toting Tech who can’t troubleshoot their way out of a wet paper bag….classic… but very true on so many occasion.
    …I’ve been in the business a while, and I have completed Certs but I’ve learned to hire a Tech, that all of your bigger clients won’t mind onsite …. Them pieces of paper…. that’s not the ultimate decider, that just gives you the right to have a decision. (Now if their trying to sell you on taking $15usd an hour, it’s your decision to walk!)
    …It showed the care for your craft to get better. It shows you want to not only learn from tinkering with these devices, you want to MASTER them! (didn’t we all think that, lol)
    …Looking forward to the other side of the argument… Good writing Ric!

    Shaun
    http://www.SMCUs.net

  • Loren Overby says:

    I think certifications are vital in this industry, both for the technician, and the industry as a whole. Our industry is a service industry, just like the HVAC or plumbing industry, and certifications have helped those fields mature and lend them credibility.
    There are still more quacks and frauds in our industry than there are qualified technicians. I went to fix a pc at a local business where the last “technician” had waved a device over the monitor to remove the monitor viruses. I see this a lot. Certifications give our industry some credibility, the same way a HVAC certification does.
    A certification gives the new customer a way to select a tech when they don’t have any recommendations. It also gives them confidence that the job was performed correctly.
    It also forces the tech to actually learn something. Anybody can start a puter fixin’ bidness. When they screw it up, that customer often assumes all techs are like that, and just goes to Staples or Best Buy next time, and either pays their huge fees, or just buys a new pc. Remember, our industry is dying, as it should be. I just bought a Nexus 7, and it will never get “fixed” in it’s lifetime.
    A college degree gives credibility, but unless you’re a coder or hardware designer, isn’t worth that much as far as the actual pc work goes. By the time you graduate, what you’ve learned is worthless. Certifications tend to keep up with the industry much better than degrees, and even they fall behind. The old joke used to be, “What’s the difference between a Cobol programmer and a large pizza? A large pizza can feed a family of four.”
    And yes, most businesses of any size won’t use a tech that doesn’t have a certification or degree.
    Yes, they are expensive, but worth it.

  • Patrick Palmer says:

    Most techs around here (North Iowa) aren’t certified and see no reason for it. I’ve never really heard of a tech who DOES have certs complain that they really don’t need them. Kinda like a person who graduates from High School saying that they wasted their time there too. It’s all in the eye of the beholder for the most part, but like my local certified auto mechanic, certified public accountant and certified…DOCTOR, I choose to be.

  • Howard Rubin says:

    I’m for no certs – but if there is a cert that would be of benifit to a computer tech, it’s A+ certification. Where I live (Brazil), EVERYONE has paper on their walls, so I post some stuff saying I attended a symposium or some such in informatica, no one actually reads them.

  • NETWizz says:

    I have multiple certifications but don’t feel like itemizing them all.

    I feel they help get jobs, but that is all they are good for. A lot of them have begun pissing me off in that I don’t feel like they should have to be upgraded or expire.

  • Paul B says:

    I can see both sides of this. Certs are expensive and time-consuming. I haven’t taken any tests yet, but the fact is that I’ve learned a lot from the texts I’ve been reading. I think they do broaden and deepen your knowledge. Sometimes we can work ourselves into a rut in our day-to-day business. Studying is the path out of that rut.

    But we can take the formal certs so seriously that they become a ball and chain. I’ve begun skipping over parts of texts that I already know or simply have no interest in. The problem is that the exams can be quite persnickety, and skipping over sections is not the way to pass the course.

  • RayJ says:

    Being “book-learned” is alright for some. I’ve seen many young people who are just that! They may have the theories as to what / why / how something works, but without real experience they’re pretty much useless (to me). I’m not certified but I do a lot of reading when I have the extra time plus I have over 30 years of experience in the repair business – going all the way back to DOS 2.1. Now I’m not saying that I know it all, because one can never know everything. And I’ve not had anyone ask me if I am certified (other than many years ago when I applied for a position with Fry’s Electronics and they wanted only a A+ Certified person for the tech dept.
    Happy Holidays, everyone!

  • Tony Pirog says:

    No amount of certification can beat hands on experience and thoughtful determined research. We can find everything we need on the web when we need it. We had a lady deride us for not having Apple certification once and I was deeply offended. She even expected us to know that the mainboard in question was notorious for the specific defect. Abdurd!

    Certification / education is, on the whole, merely an introduction to the subject. Getting your hands dirty and fixing the problem, having the right tools ready, and being able to research the solution when needed: THAT’s where it’s at. An experienced apprentice is way more valuable than a college grad any day.

    http://www.tpteq.com

  • B says:

    This is BULL…. I could try and say the same thing about college or high school for that matter. DON’T go to school…. its time consuming, customers don’t care, it can be expensive, you have another class to do, its stressful. Come on! These articles keep getting worse.

    • Tony Pirog says:

      It’s true. That’s why apprenticeships should be used more. The focus on college degrees is taking this country down the toilet, and make paupers out of graduates. A college degree is barely worth the paper it’s written on nowadays. I’d hire someone with experience over a college grad in a second.

      • 1UP says:

        I agree with you Tony.
        People don’t realize what “proper schoolin’” is, or where the term actually came from… apprenticeships!
        Highschool is nothing more than a way to give children experience with socialization. And higher education on a basic level is just a way to make money. For example – while working towards her PhD in psychology, why did my wife HAVE to take so many computer courses? And I don’t mean basic-computer-usage either. She actually HAD to take 3 years of programming and software development. Just padding the bill is all.

        I gained my knowledge through experience. Long before the days of the internet. My experience gave me a love for the field. And that love gives me the desire to keep up with current tech.
        Bootcamp techs have no love nor desire for tech – they just want the payday.

      • Tony Scarpelli says:

        People wasting $100k’s of dollars on phoney educations with for profit BS colleges is what is doing that.

        A good community college is still the best value around and you usually do not have to borrow money to do it. I paid my public 4 year college working as part time waiter and part time auto re-possessor. It wasn’t Harvard but then my parents couldn’t afford Harvard. Actually they did not support me a single penny after I became 18 years old joined the army and later decided I needed some skills.

  • LarryF says:

    I’d be fine with certification if it didn’t exist to put your money in the pockets of the companies that do the certifications. Unfortunately, it does and it does. I am fine with formal training to learn to do a job properly, but paying hundreds of dollars of my hard-earned money just for a pretty piece of paper that says I know how to do what I knew how to do before I took the test? No, thank you, I’d much rather use that money to pay bills.

    A+ certification? People who haven’t even studied for it can get half or more of the answers right. Yet it’s not one, but TWO tests with price tag of $178 EACH, and you have to pass both to get the certificate. That’s $356 of your cash, with no guarantee you’ll pass the test first time and not have to pay the same amount again. The knowledge covered in the tests is fairly basic, and does not qualify you for a job in, say, network administration; they have a different certification for that which costs $253. Yet you have to have A+ to qualify for Network+. So… So, you want that job as a network support tech: that’s A+ and Network+. $609 minimum, and the certificates expire after 3 years, ensuring that you have to go back again if you have a job that requires you keep current. Cha-ching!

  • MFIT says:

    In many ways, everything has to be working in many ways whether tech have certification or years of experiences or both. It give techs and companies some assurances knowing that person have skill essentials to get their jobs done. I’ve experienced to dealing with customers because most of them are not computer savvy and don’t have understanding how to handle their break down computers in proper way. For example, customer cleaning up their print header with window cleaner. Or Tech does that too (I’ve see tech do when they’re not supposed to do), but you’re not supposed to clean most of parts with ammonia based. Taking up for courses in order to get certification to help Tech to be able to get their job in right way without cost their mistake. Would you be rather to have person who have knowledge of heart anatomy but perform your heart surgery without having medical licenses?

    Ric, don’t put down the article about Tech should not get certificate because you have certificate according on your profile.

  • Nerm says:

    I have been asked about certs many times. I agree that certs do not replace the value of hands on experience, however I also agree that they can be a good measuring stick. Lets be honest here if you can’t even pass the A+ exam on the first try with or without studying you probably don’t belong in this industry in the first place. For example a tech with “lots” of hands on experience should be able to pass all the basic cert exams without even studying. That is why they are a “proof of knowledge” item. You obtain them to reinforce your client’s that you “do” know what you are doing. I am not saying that everyone with an A+ or Network+ are entirely competent, but they are more likely to be than someone without them. And that is why it is important from the customers point of view.

  • Jiriki says:

    This article is classic, made me chuckle several times, and yet serious. The problems with certifications, especially vendor ones, over the years… and I’ve been intimately involved with several of them since 1995, it’s either impractical for them to teach integration with other systems (this is big particularly on vendor based certs/training), scenarios are so ‘vanilla’ with no training on actual ‘trouble-shooting’ methodology, and there’s almost always the assumption that a system has the full function and features available when often money, political control, requirement to support older software/protocols and other restrictions prevent much of what is taught of being effective.

    With the extreme fast past of tech and software innovation (and it’s only on the rise) it really is impossible for anyone who plans on being a cross disciplinary support person to keep up… or in reality, you have no need to keep up because your systems are on 2003 and your boss/client doesn’t have the cash, want or need to do so. Sure I can name all the cool features, security concerns, etc to upgrade, but to be honest, I can also show how to isolate and control that environment cheaply and easily so you don’t have to spend all the $$ and training.

    Often certs push to innovate and upgrade for the sake of innovating and upgrading which doesn’t always play well in the business world, usually falling back on the ‘security’ issue as the driving factor.

    On top of that you have book smart individuals that can’t, as someone mentioned above, trouble-shoot themselves out of a web paper bag. Point-n-click Certs, if memory serves me right was often the mantra. Some certs like the early CISCO Engineer ones did, in fact get pretty nitty gritty and hands on with trouble-shooting, but from my expereience across IBM, DELL, Microsoft, HP,

    On the flip side, clients/bosses, particularly those with degrees, like to put a lot of stock in any degree/title, for, in my opinion, to often validate their own… working in an educational institution now that is ever so annoying, but reality. Having to tell an Engineering Ph.D. to flip the wireless switch to get it working is irritating to say the least… but the point is meaningful or not, people put stock in it. When I worked private sector side, we kept a guy on staff that was MSCE/D just so we could put the label on our website and calling cards, but that guy NEVER touched a single system nor would he EVER be allowed to.

    One big factor is getting benifits from vendors with certified staff, especially with hardware. Direct access to second level support or engineers; onsite warranty repair ability, etc… can’t be overstated if that is a core of your business, but does a DELL, HP, etc certified individual on make them a good tech, trouble-shooter or resolve problems in a timely, effecient manner to garner the most $$ for effort… not even close as an kind of indicator.

    Choosing to stay out of the cert arena for money, time and need reasons, I can say I do miss a few things. Although I get up-to-speed on new tech and features well enough, its another thing to to sit in a class or take 3 days to do nothing but read up on a new tech or product. Even if you don’t utilize everything that gets shoved down your gullet, you do have an awareness of them and thus can call on that knowledge when you need it.

    Bottom line, are certs essential for your business? Depends on your clients perception, your client base. In reality do you need a cert to be technically savvy or successful… absolutely not. If I hire someone, personally, do I care if they have a title or acronym behind their name… nope, nada, zilch… you are going to have to prove your adeptness either in real-time test or on the job success.

    In the IT department I used to work, out of all ~250 personnel, only 4 of us had IT related college degrees and only 10 or so had certifications to speak of… and I can tell you some of the most talented techs and managers had neither. Could they have benefited from them… probably, but it didn’t hinge their ability to be successful. Like anything, certs should be seen as a tool and weather you spend your resources to get yourself or your employee’s certified must be taken on a per-instance basis factoring in several aspects of your business or job duties.

  • Jim Ross says:

    This article was a troll.

  • Tony Scarpelli says:

    Certs are similar to a degree. There are places where it is a great benefit and others where it offers little help.

    Certs are a tool. Just like a hammer or a nail gun. Its not worth buying the nail gun for some jobs but it is for others.

    First, you don’t need certs to do any contract/job unless it is required on the RFP. Thus the saying those who cert vs those who can.

    If you are working with retail having a certificate on the wall might make someone feel good but they are already in your store so would they leave if it wasn’t there? Few understand which certs are which so the only one I ever posted on my stores was Toshiba or Microsoft as people knew those names.

    Dealing business to business is another matter. Small businesses just want someone who can do it, show up on time, get in and out at an affordable price. The only time I have had one ask about certifications is after they were burned by another consultant, Medical offices, occasionally law firms and engineers might ask for certs. But I think i might have been asked about 12 times in 19 years for a cert.

    Also, if you are new to the industry with little experience certs can give you confidence you might not otherwise have. It might get you the chance for an entry job. Some of us have confidence maybe even when we shouldn’t :).

    Also larger organizations like to see certs for their employees and if it comes between two guys roughly equal the guy with the degree will win, the guy with the certs will win if all else is about the same.

    So basically if it is easy, cheap and can be done quickly get the certs. If it is expensive and may take you a long time, your efforts and resources might be better spent in other ways. If you feel you need it, you probably do. But if you feel it is a huge cost then maybe you dont need it.

  • Nathan says:

    He is a poor Master who learns from many shipwrecks. As has been pointed out you need to learn somewhere, school, apprenticeship, etc. with rigor, i.e. a standard.

    Would you go to a quack without medical school, an internship, a residency, and a state license?

    To me that is the same as trusting your infrastructure to an un trained technician. You get the knowledge somewhere but you get the nuances from other masters of the craft. That is why you start at the help desk, jr admin, sr admin, net admin… etc., to learn under those masters.

  • Jensen says:

    I believe that having certifications doesn’t equate or measure expertise a.k.a “working” skills needed on the industry. Especially these days, where book-knowledge and “dumps” can easily lead one to be certified on any particular technology(Java, Cisco, Microsoft) on a relatively short amount of time.

    However even with that assumption, still the premise of “certifications being useless due to *insert reason*” is something that I do not fully agree. I am sure that those who are working on certifications as well as those who already have one has the advantage of understanding the foundations granted that they fully understand the theory and acquired it legitimately.

    Also, one of the reasons why I didnt subscribe fully with the idea is that certifications obviously increases one’s marketabi
    lity, In business management for example, I assume that someone who is a Six Sigma blackbelt already has a sharper edge to land a promotion or have a higher base pay than those who dont.

    In conclusion, certifications are not really useless but let’s remember that the goal of this is not to become “paper certified” but as an indicator of the passion and skills on the industry that we are into.

    Some things to consider:

    Yes I agree on most of the points of the author, but in fact there are exceptions to this.

    In this case, I would like to stress out that their are certifications, particularly CCIE which is highest level of professional certification offered by Cisco, is one of the them. In fact it has a very rigid technical exam, grueling hands on lab examination and very expensive infrastructure to setup, that those who are inexperienced may not be able to pass.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CCIE_Certification

    With regards to our group, I believe that TESDA’s NC II Computer Hardware Servicing certification is a good way to test your skills as this includes not only theory based understanding but practical skills assessment as well. The downside about this, is it does not really have a big weight in the industry compared to vendor certifications.

  • John McGrath says:

    Furthermore, I would much rather and hire someone with even a college associates degree before I would hire someone with say just a A+. Any loser can go out memorize and take these tests. Or you can even pay a online service to take them for you!!

  • Nobody says:

    Dude, How do you argue with yourself with something that you are and have…..

    This article written against the SHOULD get certified article is just dumb when the same person writes them.

    If anyone agrees with anything in the “SHOULDN’T” article then maybe they should re-evaluate their position or wanting to be in the IT field.

    To me, its like your dad teaching you to drive a car before you had a license, then when you were old enough or ready mentally, you got your license to meet a standard….its a very good standard(ill just leave alone the fact that any idiot can get a license), but the idea to me is the same.

    Just my $.02….

    • Nobody says:

      Adding to my own post, I truly believe that a degree and certs are a great way to go given todays market and corporate mindset. Its not like the old days where we broke out scopes and were just figuring stuff out as we went along. Today, there are instructors and teachers with plenty of experience to pass along to a newer generation.

      ….oh and I would love to see someone take the CCNA test by memorization only…..

      Paul
      A.S./B.S
      A+ Net+ Sec+ CCNA

  • AlphaDog says:

    MCSE tests look very good on a resume, but have virtually nothing to do with whether or not a particular tech can do the job.

    But don’t get me wrong – I’m not encouraging anyone to skip Certifications if you have opportunity to get them… They can be a significant asset to your career! But when you sit down for an interview, don’t sell your certs – sell yourself, what you’ve done, and what you can do!

    Microsoft test questions are mostly along the lines of “How would you address this situation, IF MICROSOFT WAS THE ONLY SOFTWARE PROVIDER IN THE WORLD???”… (Example – until recently there should have only been ONE question regarding Windows software RAID, and the answer should have been: DON’T USE IT! IT’S LIKELY TO CAUSE MORE PROBLEMS THAN IT PREVENTS – USE A HARDWARE RAID SOLUTION!” or “What is the best configuration for Windows Defender: TURN IT OFF!”)

    There’s NO WAY anyone can know all the solutions to issues with a particular product, bue I don’t want to hear the Microsoft answer, anyway… I want to know if you’ve thought about this stuff, wrestled with it, and can find answers on your own.

  • MtSnowCat says:

    I got my current small gov’t job ahead of some techs with lots of stickers because I could answer the tech questions asked in the interview. Don’t think there’s anything wrong with stickers by your name, but if you can’t think for yourself and solve a problem on your own you’re just about worthless. I haven’t taken the time/had the time to do the certs. Always figured working/doing the job was better for me than reading about doing the job. The manufacturer or FAQ/blogs on internet are a last resort for something I can’t figure out on my own.

  • Katfish says:

    The things I read ppl comparing here are ppl with 20yrs exp vs new ppl with certs. Of course many years of exp weights more. But for me it’s a little different. I have 0yrs exp. All I read is jobs saying they want exp ppl or certs. At this point in time with me just starting into this field, certs is what will get me a foot in the door. So I will study and get the certs to start out.

  • Dan R says:

    In the 5 years I have owned and operated my computer repair company, I have been asked, only once, which certifications I had achieved (BTW, I don’t have any). It was by a potential customer who was very proud of his dental degrees and achievements. Needless to say, we didn’t do business.

    If you have CERTs, great, but in themselves, I don’t believe they qualify you as a top notch computer repair technician. Like in any field, your customers want to know if you can handle their type of problem. The proof of your competence is your successful completion or resolution of the problem.

    To stay competent, I find that I am constantly reading computer repair articles and blogs, and watching computer repair videos on the Internet. This field is constantly changing as technology quickly progresses. CERT or no CERT, we have to constantly educate ourselves on the newest hardware, software and computer virus removal techniques. We also need to know where to access the information, we need, when we get stumped. None of us have the mental capacity to know the solution to every problem that we will be confronted with.

    Dan
    http://www.computerpcmedic.com

  • Jeff says:

    PhDs are intelligent and have great looking walls, but usually lack in street smarts. I’d take a street-smart tech any day over a cert hound. Certs have their place though… but I’d still lean on the street-smart tech who knows how to find necessary answers quickly for real-world business problems. Information is everywhere… it’s how you use it that’s key.

    JumpPuppy – IT Help Desk for IT Pros
    http://www.jumppuppy.com

    • Trình says:

      Street smarts are flexible, know how to converse with customers if they can not fix/solve problems right away, and they can find solutions later.

  • randall hess says:

    I personally don’t have any certifications but my customers love how quickly I can resolve any issue and the extreeme quality of my work. I believe I can honesty say the only time I did not successfully complete my job was when the laptop I was repairing was stolen while we were waiting for HP to ship the parts we needed. needless to say I don’t believe a certification would have helped in that situation.