Certification Path

IT Culture

Philip tagged me in his blog post about IT folks going obsolete so I figured I might as well chime in on the technical side of the things as I typically discuss only big picture industry trends here.

Check out the advice Philip Elder gave to a guy who was considering industry certifications. In a nutshell, I agree with all of his arguments.

I’d add two more:

1. Follow the money. When it comes to certifications, invest in the ones that have companies (or industries) that are growing rapidly. This used to be Cisco, but these days Cisco competes with so many other router / firewall / UC companies that their pool is getting diluted. Expertise with Cisco is still compensated very well, but the number of those opportunities is dwindling. Once you figure out who is selling a ton of stuff that would require IT personnel, visit your favorite job board – how many resumes list that as a requirement. How many of them pay well? Sure, you can find a truckload of requests for someone with the A+ certification but they all pay in single digits or low double digits – not worth the time in my opinion.

2. What can you do with your certification if your labor is not in demand? Many of us in the IT field (that don’t have diversified businesses) face the extinction dillema – what do I do when I grow up? Am I a system administrator or a developer? Am I an architect or am I a code monkey? Am I an engineer or a tech? Different disciplines lead you into different career development paths and different skills and experience you can put on your resume. But assume you made the wrong choice – could you start a business solely on the skills you have and earn a decent wage being an expert contractor for someone that has a diverse business and just needs you on demand?

I’ll be honest that in my hiring, the one thing that stands out the most is progression. I want people that have been involved in all things that have come to the front of the technology because I know that the skills you have now will soon be obsolete. Are you  table to quickly learn the new material? Are you someone that can figure things out, or do you need solid documentation and training before you can manage?

If you need solid documentation and training, stop reading this post now and go straight to www.careerbuilder.com and get yourself a new career. Immediately. Go. Now. Any idiot can follow a checklist and idiots work in the fast food industry.

Otherwise, the opportunities will always be there for smart people that can figure things out and implement both cost saving and revenue making processes. It only takes a lifetime of dedication to your career and craft. This is true for virtually everything you want to be successful at so don’t let the certification choices slow you down, nobody ever got penalized for too much knowledge – only for not applying it. So get a job and get to love learning.