Certification – what does it mean? Image #75

I’ve told you I used to work in IT, right?  And now I work in security.  Across both disciplines, and in much of life, there’s a lot of pressure and in some cases kudos to be obtained by becoming certified in one thing or another.  I just heard today that I can now add another bunch of letters after my name professionally, which is great, but what does it all mean?

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The cartoon above is one of my favourite Dilbert cartoons.  (I know, Dilbert is geeky and to have a favourite must mean I’m uber-geeky, but that’s the way the bits flow.). And it brings to mind a brilliant example which might have been the root of the cartoon.

In one of our offices one day, this guy came up to me (I was in management at the time) and said “I’ve just passed both the Novell (now you know how long ago this was) and Microsoft certifications. I want a 30% pay rise or I’m leaving.” I told him I’d find out what we could do for him and sent him on his way. Fast forward a day or two, and the same guy called me up.  He wanted to know how to do something with a network card on a system he was working on. I asked him why he didn’t know, as I knew for a fact that it was something covered on both of his certifications in their basic classes – because I’d done them both.  He didn’t have an answer, didn’t get his raise and didn’t stay with the company for long.

I guess the moral of that little story is, in my experience, having a bit of paper to say you can do something is not as valuable as having spent the time doing the things the paper said you were qualified to do.  I’d choose an experienced professional ahead of a well qualified one any day.

Oh, and the certification I won today?  I had to be able to demonstrate at least 5 years experience in a number of different security related disciplines.  Qualified AND experienced? You bet!

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