Does Certification = Skill?
A difference exists between those who can simply pass a test and those who genuinely know the product for which they’re certified. According to “The Certification Myth” (Inside Technology Training, March 1999), the current shortage of IT professionals is causing companies to seek out partially qualified staff, offer them mouth-watering salaries, and hopefully mold them to the job.
The Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP); Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE); and Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) have all evolved to compete in the training market. You need only pass one exam: on a programming language, a Back-office technology, or an operating system to attain an entry-level MCP title. The cost is $100 an exam-pass or fail-more if training classes are taken. For a beginner, the average cost to train and certify as an MCSE is about $12,000 for six exams and six classes, and about 30 lost workdays.
Is it worth it to have framed certificates and logos to put on business cards? A June IDC survey showed that 31.6 percent of managers staffing MCPs felt their employees were more productive in all areas than the non MCPs. The study also showed little difference in outage recovery time for companies with MCPs (2.35 hours) vs. no MCPs (2.88 hours).
Real-world in-house training geared toward specific jobs may be a good management option, since on the job customer-relation skills cannot be taught well in a classroom. Once experienced, the employee can take classes to “fill in the gaps”-fewer classes needed equals less money expended.
Despite the skilled IT shortages, more people than ever are applying for open positions-and many with certifications to strong-point their résumés. Is certification a “must have”? Not necessarily-especially if cost is a concern. Experience-with or without certification-is the key to success.