Are Technical Certifications Worth It?

Wondering whether getting technical certifications are worth it?  You’ve come to the right place.

technical certifications

I think the best answer to this is sometimes.  Personally, I haven’t had a situation yet in my career where having a cert was a deal-breaker on whether or not I would get a job.  Sometimes though, this is the case.  For example, consultants representing certain firms are required to be certified on certain Microsoft software.

Whether technical certifications are worth it can depend on a couple of things.  For example, the certification you’re getting, the industry you’re in or whether the certification is required for specific jobs.  At the very least, getting a tech certification be a bonus to your resume, if you pick the right one.

Here are some things to consider before you decide to get a certification:

 

Identify Trends

Unsure whether a cert is required for your career path?  I recommend doing some research into the technical certifications you are considering getting.  You can do this by browsing posting on job platforms like Indeed, Monster, or LinkedIn.  See if you notice any patterns.  Do most jobs you’re looking for have specific technical certifications listed as a requirement?  If so, it’s probably a good idea to look into getting the certifications.

Another tip is to look at profiles and resumes of others who are in the same position as you.  For example, do other Azure developers or engineers in your industry have Azure certifications?  If so, that’s another sign that getting the certification is worth it.  Some employers want proof of certifications to show that you are qualified for a specific position.  Overall, you should see what the trends are and try to make your decision based on them.

Employers Don’t Always Care About Technical Certifications

A lot of employers aren’t really concerned about whether or not you have technical certifications.  Their main concern is whether you are able to perform the job.  If you’ve gotten past a phone screen and have made it to a face-to-face interview, you probably don’t need a certification to score the job.  I know this first-hand.  Certifications only really matter at the phase when employers are first seeing your resume.  Once they choose to move forward, it really doesn’t matter anymore.

If you don’t have previous experience in the IT industry, then a certification may help them determine that you’re qualified.  In addition, if you didn’t major in computer science or another related field, then a certification can count as a type of “formal learning”.  In these situations, having technical certifications may be beneficial.  It’s a form of “official” training showing that you are knowledgeable in an area.  Overall, the same way you don’t need a degree to get a programming job, you employers don’t always care about certifications either.

Do You Really Want To Get The Certifications?

Don’t know if you feel like getting a certification?  Then don’t waste your time.

I don’t recommend getting technical certifications unless it’s in something that you actually want to work with.  Is the certification something that you’re passionate about?  Maybe you want to get technical certifications because you are truly interested in learning more.  I purchased a course on Blockchain hoping to get certified just because I was curious.  I’m still working on that by the way.

Make sure that you’re getting a certification because you want to learn more.  Otherwise, you won’t get much out of it.  Even worse, you may purchase courses and not end up finishing to get your certificate. Then you end up wasting your money for nothing.

Don’t Get Technical Certifications Just To Boost Your Resume

In the end, getting technical certifications isn’t a good idea if you’re just looking to “fluff” your resume.  That’s just a waste of your hard earned money.  Instead, try to work on improving your work experience on your resume.  In addition, you can also list additional skills to grab the attention of hiring managers.  Try to tailor your resume based on the job you’re applying to.  There are plenty of ways to improve your resume without having to add certs that are useless for you.

These methods are better than getting technical certifications in the hopes that they will make you stand out.  They aren’t going to benefit you much in this case.  You will only end up wasting your money.

 

So – Why Get Technical Certifications?

 

You’re A Developer That’s A “Specialist”

There are plenty of good reasons to get technical certifications.  For example, if you’re working for a company such as Accenture or Deloitte as a consultant, having certifications might be required.  Consultants often have to be a jack of many trades and being officially certified is usually a requirement of consulting firms.

In addition, if you’re a specialist or working in a specific area, getting certifications is a good idea.  Certifications are a great way to learn about a specific software or system.  You may have to get re-certified several times on the same thing due to technology changing and software updating, but that’s not a bad thing.   Getting certifications as a specialist is a good idea because it shows proof that you’re an expert in what you do.

Technical Certifications May Get You A Higher Salary

Having technical certifications in a specific area can really benefit your career in the long-term.  They may you’re your ability to negotiate better rates, land jobs easier or even get promotions.  Don’t get an easy cert in hopes of getting a higher salary.  I promise it will end up being useless.  I know I don’t like wasting money and I’m sure I’m not alone!  Take the time to research a certification that is relevant to your career, will be useful to you and benefit you financially.

According to PC Mag, below are ten of the highest tech certifications:

  1. Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT) – average of $121,393 per year
  2. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate – average of $121,292 per year
  3. Project Management Professional (PMP) – average of $114,473 per year
  4. AWS Certified Developer – Associate – average of $114,148 per year
  5. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) – average of $111,475 per year
  6. Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) – average of $111,049 per year
  7. Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) – average of $108,043 per year
  8. Certified ScrumMaster – average of $106,398 per year
  9. Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) – average of $106,375 per year
  10. Six Sigma Green Belt – average of $104,099 per year

 

To Prove That You’re A Expert

 

You might decide to get a technical certification in order to prove that you’re an expert in something.  I know that getting certified in Dynamics 365 would be beneficial because it would make me appear more “qualified” for jobs I was applying to.  According to Global Knowledge, the following technical certifications are worth getting:

  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate
  • CCNA Routing and Switching
  • PMP® — Project Management Professional
  • CompTIA Network+
  • CompTIA Security+
  • ITIL® Foundation
  • CCNA Security
  • MCSA: SQL Server 2012/2014 (etc)
  • MCSA: Windows Server 2016 (etc)
  • VMware Certified Professional 6 – Data Center Virtualization (VCP6-DCV)
  • Certification in Risk Systems and Control (CRISC)
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
  • Citrix Certified Associate – Virtualization (CCA-V)
  • Red Hat® Certified Engineer (RHCE)
  • COBIT
  • MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure
  • Six Sigma

Based on my experience, I know that having a Microsoft certification will usually always benefit you.

 technical certifications

Some Employers Are Willing To Pay For Certifications

If your employer is willing to pay for technical certifications, then why not take them up on it?  I know I have.  Most companies nowadays offer tuition reimbursement.  A lot of the time, certifications fall under the tuition reimbursement umbrella.  Sure, sometimes it’s only a certain amount per year.  Who cares?  It’s still something.

You may even be able to get a certification without going through the tuition reimbursement process.  It really depends on the company and their attitude or policy towards training and certificates.  For example, at my last job I spoke to my manager about the benefits I would have my having an account on Lynda.com.  I was able to request that he get an account for us and he approved my request within a week.  From there, I was able to take courses that helped prepare me for certification tests.

Most companies will offer to pay for certifications one way or another.  Sometimes all you have to do is ask.  When your able to get a technical certification for free, it’s hands-down worth putting in the time and effort.

 

Unsure What Certification You Should Get?

Below is an IT Certification Roadmap from Comptia.  Utilizing this Roadmap should be helpful in deciding where to begin.  It’s helped me in the past personally.  The Roadmap is even broken down by beginner, intermediate, advanced to expert levels.

In addition, I’ve included a list of certifications to get based on category.

IT Certification Roadmap

 

IT Certification Roadmap

 

Technical Certifications Are Only A Small Part Of The Overall Package

In my opinion, tech certs aren’t useless.  Having a certification may help you stand out, get a specific job or even get a higher salary.  However, they aren’t always required and getting one isn’t the right choice for everyone.  They aren’t the magic answer or key to getting your dream job.  Certs aren’t going to translate to experience when it comes to getting hired, it will just prove that you’re more knowledgeable in an area.

In the end, having a certification isn’t going to be “make or break” on whether you get a job.  It’s really only a small contributor when it comes to what you have to offer an employer overall.  Other factors such as your experience, education, and skills are often more important than a certification alone.  It’s all about the effort you put it on getting certifications and the effort you put towards your career.  Do what you feel is best for you and your career.