Why Do I Need to Certify?

Here’s Four Good (and Brief) Reasons

By: William Phelps | Senior Technical Architect

 

In the normal day-to-day work life in the software industry, there is usually enough real work (meaning “paid” work) to keep an IT worker busy.  Most of us want to just simply relax after a long day of strained eyes and cramped fingers, without having to think about attending additional training.

Recently I attended a software training course, conducted after the end of such work days, for an unnamed software package.

For a two week period I attended those after-hours sessions, followed with a few days of homework-style exercises to be returned for a grade.  Finally, I took a written/hands-on exam with another exercise that was graded.  At the end of the process, I indeed received the intended certification.

Here’s the twist for today.  I have been working with the product for several years.  I know the product company’s CEO, CIO, quite frankly every “C<insert letter here>O” in the organization.  I am familiar with the development and support teams, and had previously even performed services on behalf of the company, interfacing with their customers as if I was a direct company employee.

Yet, I was still required to obtain their certification… really?  I mean, I know enough to actually get paid to work with the package.  Isn’t that enough?  After all we have been through together?

The simple answer is often “NO”.  It’s not enough.

Even if you have demonstrated proficiency in a certain field, area, practice, etc. the need to actually certify clearly remains.  Here are four reasons:

  1. You are “certified”. Yes, it sounds redundant, but this means that an effort was undertaken that sets you apart from everyone else.  You now have a demonstrated, quantifiable proof-positive to state that you know exactly what you are doing.
  2. The actual certification makes you, the IT commodity, a much more valuable asset to your current employer or your prospective new employer.
    • If your current employer paid for the certification process, they have invested time and resources in you. Studies show that companies who help employees train and certify tend to retain these employees for a longer period of time.  It’s inherently cheaper to invest a small amount in certification for an employee than to recruit, procure, and train a net new employee.
    • In the case of a consulting business, having certified personnel in-house gives the consulting firm another check mark when competing with other companies for the same work.
    • If you are currently being interviewed and participating in a hiring decision, your name usually goes straight to the top of the list, since they don’t need to worry so much about your technical prowess. They can then focus on other aspects of the hiring process (like reviewing your social media activity).
    • It’s also not a great revelation that a certified person can command a better overall compensation package than a person with no certifications. With said documentation in hand, it’s hard to argue that there is much room for a prolonged technical skills debate.
  3. Certifications ultimately remain, or “go”, with you if you should choose to leave the employer. That certification that you sacrificed nights and weekends to procure is yours, regardless of who paid for it.  This is a benefit that ultimately pays down the road, even if the new job doesn’t require this specific certification.  The actual undertaking of the certification process conveys a demonstrated level of professional commitment.  Sometimes, having this unrelated certification is actually the tipping point for getting a foot in the door.
  4. Most importantly, customers will have greater confidence in both you and your company when you certify. It’s a win-win-win for you, your employer, and your customers, as it eliminates a bit of the unknown when the customer is dealing with a proven, known commodity (YOU)!

 

Want to learn more about the benefits of professional certifications in the IT industry? Contact us today!