How Important are Certifications in Getting an IT Job?

Chances are you're not going to get the same answer from any two people.

There's a big reason for this. A lot of this has to do with the diversity of the marketplace.

For example, if you are looking for a job in a startup company or in a fairly mid-sized company that's very big on innovative disruption, they probably are not going to be sticklers for four-year college degrees. In fact, a lot of these organizations have a fairly negative attitude regarding formal four-year college degree educational programs.

It's easy to see why. In a lot of these college degree programs, the professors focus your attention primarily on theory. Don't get me wrong. Theory is wonderful and awesome at a certain level but, ultimately, you're going to have to step up and apply that theory to real life.

This is exactly where a theory-based instruction system starts to fall apart. In fact, if you were to take a survey of most startup companies in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, a lot of the tech personnel are pretty much self-taught and guess what? These companies are not breaking up. These companies are not going bankrupt. These companies are not facing all sorts of legal, technical and logistical problems. In fact, a lot of them run like well-oiled machines.

What gives? Well, it has nothing to do with the formal title of the people running these companies. Instead, this disconnect between formal education and actual company performance and productivity has more to do with the amount of years of experience of the technical staff these companies have.

This is why I certifications, as awesome as they may be from a purely public relations perspective, are really not that big of a deal when it comes to actually managing, operating, growing and scaling up a typical information technology startup.

With that said, please understand that if you are looking to get your foot in the door, you need certifications. Once you have proven yourself and your boss fully knows that you know what you're talking about, then certifications start to fade in importance.

It really boils down to perception. If anything, certifications, advanced degrees, college degrees and what have you, act as some sort of proxy or substitute for what people are really looking for. What are they looking for?

Well, they’re looking for trust personnel.

They are looking for people who know what they're doing.

They’re looking for people who do not suffer from a disconnect between the things they say about themselves and the things that they can actually perform.

So, do yourself a big favor. Get certified but understand the context of its use. Understand its proper placement in the application process. This way, you will be able to give it its proper weight.