The Rigors of Certification

When you decide to enter the world of the certified IT professional, you commit yourself to a lifestyle. The lifestyle isn't for everyone, and you'll save a lot of time and money if you realize that sooner rather than later. If you're pursuing certification simply to earn more money, bail out now. Otherwise, the rigors of ongoing education and certification will eventually wear you down. It's not just the several hours a week that you'll spend in the training center to pass a course or the months it'll take to get an advanced credential. You'll face classes and tests for the duration of your career. It's like riding a bike in a sandbox: As soon as you stop pedaling, the bike stops. If you really want to be successful, you must commit yourself to a new approach—one in which you're pedaling all the time.

The Training and Certification Creed
Not to sound like an advertisement for the Marines, but the IT profession is looking for a few good men and women who can make the type of commitment it takes to be successful. Here are some guidelines:

  • Take charge of your training and certification success. Ultimately, you're responsible for your education and certification. You'll encounter bad instructors, training centers that don't deliver, and other obstacles. When things go wrong, you must continue steadfastly toward your certification goals. You'll have no time for whining. You can, and should, complain if you feel that something is wrong, but don't let the obstacles deter you.
  • Let a lifetime quest for knowledge consume you. When I received my Windows NT 3.51 MCSE certification, I thought I'd arrived. That feeling lasted for a few weeks. I soon wanted to study more topics and become certified in those areas, too. I pursued various NT 4.0 certifications, and I'm now working to complete the Windows 2000 track. I've passed 19 exams; and certification, continued training, and self-study have become an obsession. I've found several companion skills and interests in scripting and Perl that have further consumed me. In IT, your employer will regularly ask you to research and implement technologies you're not familiar with. You can never know it all. A hunger to learn new things is the key.
  • Adapt as industry needs, technologies, and certifications change. You'll see changes in the industry to which you need to respond with appropriate training and study. Industry needs and technologies might move on and render your skills obsolete. Certification vendors such as Microsoft, Novell, and Cisco will take their programs in new and different directions, sometimes to your dismay. Vendors' decisions can nullify some or all of your certifications, costing you time and money as you strive to keep up. You can make your opinions known, but you're ultimately at the mercy of the vendors.
  • Diversify your skills, but maintain focus. A big temptation is to jump on every new training trend and certification that comes down the road. If you give in to temptation, you'll find yourself with a closet full of training books for certifications you haven't had the time to pursue. However, you need to diversify to increase your value to your current and future employers and to demonstrate your knowledge breadth. Also, related complimentary credentials help validate each other. Some companies you interview with might be skeptical of the value of your MCSE certification, for example, but if you also have an A+ or a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification, you can short-circuit their skepticism.

When you decide to enter the world of the certified IT professional, you commit yourself to a lifestyle. The lifestyle isn't for everyone, and you'll save a lot of time and money if you realize that sooner rather than later. If you're pursuing certification simply to earn more money, bail out now. Otherwise, the rigors of ongoing education and certification will eventually wear you down. It's not just the several hours a week that you'll spend in the training center to pass a course or the months it'll take to get an advanced credential. You'll face classes and tests for the duration of your career. It's like riding a bike in a sandbox: As soon as you stop pedaling, the bike stops. If you really want to be successful, you must commit yourself to a new approach—one in which you're pedaling all the time.

The Training and Certification Creed
Not to sound like an advertisement for the Marines, but the IT profession is looking for a few good men and women who can make the type of commitment it takes to be successful. Here are some guidelines:

  • Take charge of your training and certification success. Ultimately, you're responsible for your education and certification. You'll encounter bad instructors, training centers that don't deliver, and other obstacles. When things go wrong, you must continue steadfastly toward your certification goals. You'll have no time for whining. You can, and should, complain if you feel that something is wrong, but don't let the obstacles deter you.
  • Let a lifetime quest for knowledge consume you. When I received my Windows NT 3.51 MCSE certification, I thought I'd arrived. That feeling lasted for a few weeks. I soon wanted to study more topics and become certified in those areas, too. I pursued various NT 4.0 certifications, and I'm now working to complete the Windows 2000 track. I've passed 19 exams; and certification, continued training, and self-study have become an obsession. I've found several companion skills and interests in scripting and Perl that have further consumed me. In IT, your employer will regularly ask you to research and implement technologies you're not familiar with. You can never know it all. A hunger to learn new things is the key.
  • Adapt as industry needs, technologies, and certifications change. You'll see changes in the industry to which you need to respond with appropriate training and study. Industry needs and technologies might move on and render your skills obsolete. Certification vendors such as Microsoft, Novell, and Cisco will take their programs in new and different directions, sometimes to your dismay. Vendors' decisions can nullify some or all of your certifications, costing you time and money as you strive to keep up. You can make your opinions known, but you're ultimately at the mercy of the vendors.
  • Diversify your skills, but maintain focus. A big temptation is to jump on every new training trend and certification that comes down the road. If you give in to temptation, you'll find yourself with a closet full of training books for certifications you haven't had the time to pursue. However, you need to diversify to increase your value to your current and future employers and to demonstrate your knowledge breadth. Also, related complimentary credentials help validate each other. Some companies you interview with might be skeptical of the value of your MCSE certification, for example, but if you also have an A+ or a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification, you can short-circuit their skepticism.
Hide comments

Comments

  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Publish