Prior to entering the IT profession more than 9 years ago, I spent my primary career as a medical professional. In this capacity, I had sought and obtained "professional stature" for 256,000 medical professionals as adjudicated by the governing act (the National Labor Relations Act) and its accompanying body (the National Labor Relations Board). We, as medical professionals, and under the NLRA, were required to comply with strict educational, certification and labor standards proscribed by the NLRA in order to acquire and maintain this professional stature.
In addition to these standards, this group of medical professionals took a National Board of Registry examination and subsequent, annual Continuing Education Units to maintain the ability to work and advance within this field of medicine.
Since joining the IT industry, I have observed the visible lack of standardization among vendor-issued certifications and any impartial adjudicating body for their validation. Although I have acquired both Microsoft and non-Microsoft certifications throughout my tenure in the IT arena, the lack of a credible, impartial national organization, whose mandate would provide an official, unbiased sanction of certification processes, content and value, has certainly contributed to the whimsical acceptance of certifications and their associated value by IT employers. Moreover, the cumulative skills acquired by the IT worker are never addressed by certifications, per se.
When the value of a certification is wholly determined by the vendors who produce them, how can we (or should we) expect employers to adopt their intrinsic value as a measure for position or salary advancement? Unfortunately, the majority of employers haven't performed internal surveys outlining the benefits of those IT employees possessing certifications versus those with both certifications and experience. As we all understand, experience is the foremost and prima facie evidence of ability while certifications are a requisite augmentation process of continued learning and an index of the IT worker's basic level of content comprehension.
When the IT profession and these diverse, numerous certifications are recognized and enforced by some substantive, national organization, employers should begin their recognition of the overdue but deserved benefits associated with the IT certification.
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This was first published in September 2005