Certifications are often lambasted as “worthless pieces of paper” and “experience is more important.” But for some people, certifications are more important than experience.
A substitute for experience
Newcomers to the IT world face the classic problem: how do you get experience without a job? Sure, you can tinker around on your own time, but how do you prove that experience? That’s where certifications come in.
Certifications show a prospective employer that you care enough and have the initiative to spend your own time and money to become a better IT professional. You might have tons of experience with IT as a hobby. But how do you prove that?
With a piece of paper.
Certifications get you hired
They are what get your resume looked at, instead of being tossed into the shredder by HR.
They are what get you the interview.
They are the tie-breaker between you and that other equally qualified person who doesn’t have a cert.
If you have a stack of certifications under your belt, you’re going to be a step ahead of the naysayers who think certifications are a joke, a scam, or a racket.
Certifications mean higher pay
My first IT certification was the CompTIA A+ in 2002. That helped me land one very low paying job. During that time, I also got my Microsoft MCSA.
Fast-forward a few years. I got a job at a local technology reseller where I earned my Network+, Cisco CCNA, CCDA, and finally my CCNP, all within a year. Shortly after that, I was able to get a job that almost doubled my salary.
A couple years later, I got my Citrix CCA. My salary went up by 50%. It increased a few percent each year thereafter.
Oh, and I forgot to mention: no college degree.
You’re always a beginner
Even if you’ve been in the field for 20 years, you’re always a beginner when it comes to emerging technologies. You can work your tail off to get experience with the latest and greatest, but if you want to turn that experience into a raise or new position, you have to prove your skills.
When you put in your resume against someone fresh out of college – and they have that highly sought after certification and you don’t – well, you can guess who’s getting the callback.