The topic of certification surfaces every so often in technical circles--especially when job seekers face tough job competition. The value of such certifications comes into question versus that of years of experience. For experienced technicians and engineers, the opinion is that experience is the most important for landing a job. In the minds of newbies and wannabes, certifications rule. Certifying authorities and vendors, of course, want you to spend the money obtaining the certifications and are ready to cite instances where certification is required for employment.
I, myself, was caught up in the certification frenzy back in the early 90s with Novell's now defunct NetWare product. I took the classes, amounting to about $1,500, for the first certification (Certified NetWare Administrator (CNA)) and passed the exam. While in one of the next series of classes (Certified NetWare Engineer (CNE)), I connected with another student who was a recently laid-off aircraft worker who made $70K/year at that job. He was now taking classes to become a CNE all on the government dollar. I paid for my own classes.
He also informed me that the government was paying for the 3 systems he was leasing to use for study at a whopping $900/month.
Angry? Me? Oh, yes indeed.
I halted my studies at once. Why? Because this guy had absolutely no experience with computers or NetWare yet he would eventually become a CNE and get a job making yet again more than I still do today, some 15 years later.
Chances are that he never got a job as a Novell administrator. My utter disgust was mostly legitimate but what of his certification? The problem with his certification (and all vendor certifications) is that it was with a version of the software that was replaced less than two years later.
With each new software version, you have to re-certify. Isn't that nice for the vendor? They continually extract money from you every time they upgrade their software--that is, if you want to stay certified.
The same thing happened to all those "paper" MCSEs (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineers) that were floating around a few years back. They were certified on NT 4.0, then came 2000, later came 2003 and now 2008. And that's only the operating systems, Microsoft also has certifications for developers, database administrators and more.
Others followed suit and jumped on the "you need a certification" bandwagon. Red Hat, Oracle, Cisco, Sun, VMware and others all have their money...I mean certification programs ready to take your money and time with the promise of a better job or first-time employment.
So, what's the bottom line here?
Vendor certifications are a money racket. Don't fall for it. Rarely, if ever, are they required for employment. If they are a requirement, the person who wrote the requirement hasn't a clue and you don't want the job whether you're certified or not.
Your best bet is to acquire experience from working with the product and developing some skills associated with it. Talk to people in the field to find out how Linux, routers and databases are used in the real world. Start small in a small company and work your way up to the big time. If you aren't willing to get some experience first, a certification can at least get you some notice but proceed with caution.
Write back and tell me what you think of vendor certifications. Do you think they're worth anything?