As long as the IT industry has been around, there have always been people longing to be taught how to navigate the different technologies that are out there. The advantage of instruction is that most times, you receive a certification which validates your knowledge of the tech that you received instruction on.
Now, there are some of us out there who try to stick to the fact that we can learn things on our own from the tried and true, “Hands-on Experience.” While this works in some situations, in others it can be more beneficial to get training from someone with experience. In this day and age, we can get certified in pretty much anything relating to the information technology sector. Networking, storage, virtualization, etc. These are all items that we can take classes on and take tests in to receive certifications.
The biggest question regarding certifications that I get from peers is “What is the value of certifications these days? Aren’t they just pieces of paper to validate that I took and passed a test?”
While this is a valid question, it brings up a couple points I’d like to make.
1) First and foremost, will having certain certifications in your field make you eligible for a higher pay scale? Most of the time, the answer to this question is yes. Having certifications can help you create demand for yourself in the industry. Take my previous employer for instance: I took the VMWare Certified Professional (VCP) exam and was immediately able to garner a raise from my manager. Why? Because we used VMWare in our environment and having a knowledgeable person on the team was a high value to my manager.
2) My second point regarding certifications is to only take the ones that are valid to either yourself or the business. If you are a consultant and primarily do security work revolving compliance, don’t go out and take the CCNA for Voice—really won’t help you. In this case, you would want to focus on the CISSP, as it directly relates to your security role and will help out your bottom line. When it comes to getting new business, the CISSP certification will show customers that you’re very focused on what you do. If your employer is running Cisco VOIP in the Enterprise, don’t go and take the Avaya certifications for voice. Bottom line is to take certifications that can help you and your employer out—and, of course, ones that will eventually get you more money!
There are a lot of areas that you can self-study on without having to take an instructor-led course. Pick up some books, take online training, and get with the program. The main goal of me breaking this down is this: receiving certifications can only help your career overall. Yes, without a doubt, they will help the business; but mainly, they’ll help you exceed in your professional life.
Set some goals for yourself, say trying to get 2 certifications in a 6 month period. This way, when your 6 month or annual review rolls around, you can show your manager that you care about what you do and making yourself better at your job function.
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