5 Keys to Deciding on a Certification

Those considering an IT or the PMP certification may benefit from the following points:

1. Some say that the requirements for many certifications have been 'dumbed down'? However, if you look into it, it looks like quite a bit of effort (not to mention money) goes into earning many of the more valuable IT certifications, not to mention the PMP. There is clearly value and knowledge gained, and the key to success is choosing the right one - one that you can apply as soon as possible and will take you toward your goals.

2. An IT certification is relatively short-lived. Generally, you cannot go to school for it, as it will become outdated within a few years, at which time you will need an update, if not a total 're-planting' in a different direction. IT certification is meant to be a demonstration of a specific piece of knowledge, often related to a particular implementation of technology. The mobile work force in technology needs a mechanism to adapt and reinvent itself every few years, and certification is a big part of that mechanism.

3. IT certifications provide evidence of a minimum level of knowledge of the subject. It definitely takes work to earn one, and often it is very difficult to do if you do not have some experience in the particular technology. The purpose is to enable vendors to have an 'up-to-speed' workforce in place with sufficient expertise to implement and support their products. It is in the best interest of both the vendors and the individuals to attain as high a level of proficiency as possible. In other words, there is every reason for the vendor and the practitioner to maintain the highest standards.

4. Where I have a concern is with the offering of degrees in lieu of certifications. To me, a degree should be an exercise in maturing, learning to think, and seeing a pretty broad view of things. It should provide a person with a foundation so that as they progress in their career, they can learn what they need to know as they go - including earning appropriate certifications as desired and needed.

5. The true rating system for a given certification is the market. If a particular certification is not that valuable, or represents a 'dumbed down' achievement, it probably will not be worth much in the eyes of employers, who will learn quickly from experience, networking within their space, and reviewing curriculum. There is a lot of information on the internet that can provide insights on the demand for particular certifications. Just go to Google and search, or go the some job boards, like DICE or Monster, and search on the particular certification.

In my opinion, certification is worthwhile, and individuals must make the choice on what subjects to spend their time. While many situations do not require it, 'mobile' employees and contractors that move from position to position, as well as internal employees who want to advance, will be benefit the most from certification. If nothing else, it gives confidence and indicates a high level of motivation - not bad things to have!

For more informative articles around the project management field, see the PM crunch - http://PMcrunch.com - web site. PMcrunch provides fresh prospectives on the world of project management in the areas of Certification, Online Project Management, Project Management Process, Project Management Templates, and Soft Skills. Author John Reiling has written many articles on PMcrunch, and in addition to PMcrunch, runs Project Management Training Online and Lean Six Sigma Training Online.

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