Are Professional Certifications Worth It?

Okay, I know all professional credentials are not in the opinions. I know that there are very real and necessary authorities in the IT world and in many other professions that are absolutely essential to show that you have the knowledge to perform the job at the level needed to be successful. And even if that’s not exactly the case – meaning your experience and knowledge will lead you without certification – you still need it to even be considered a practical work option. Period.

But do you ever feel that your certification does not serve you? Have you spent all that money and job offers still not flowing? Or maybe it’s the other way around. You do not have the certification, but you have the experience and yet you are cleared early in the job search process because you lack the preferred certification. Welcome to the world of job hunting where authority seems to be through human resources (HR) to say, “I’m going to go through this job search process!” Seriously, sometimes I think authority is the way human resources press the ‘easy button’.

I decided to ask a number of questions related to project management, IT and business people in general. I was looking for answers to the following questions in order to gain an understanding of the perceived, or even actual, value of career prospects and job searches of the respondent. The questions were:

  • Do you have a professional certification? If so, which certificate?
  • Has it benefited your career or job search?
  • Are there any certifications that you think are particularly necessary?
  • Anyone who is useless versus experienced?
  • Finally, please make any comments you would like regarding credentials versus real-world work experience that you feel very strongly about.

The answers to the first four questions are intended to provide industry-specific information and certification to compare the answers to the last question. What I found is that it really does not matter what industry or certification someone held, the general feelings about certification were still the same. The real relevance – for the purpose of this article – was the answers to the last question … how do you feel the credentials match the work experience in the real world.

Here are some anonymous and anonymous quotes I received from the survey:

  • Most of the approvals are nice to receive, but they should not be taken seriously. “
  • Professional certification without experience is stupid … “
  • The authorities will go through the process of sorting human resources … “
  • Experience is important, but certification opens the door … “
  • Nobody asked for my credentials … better experience … “
  • The certification helped with knowledge, but not with a salary or getting a better job … “
  • The certifications are for human resources … because it is easy to deny candidates instead of focusing on their experience. “
  • I believe all approvals are nothing more than official. They will help “direct” you to the subject, but they are nothing compared to a real-world experience. “
  • I feel that authority is just another key word for excluding job applicants. “
  • I think the authority is a year or more behind the real-world job skills. “
  • Many certifications become products and reduce their value … Some of Microsoft’s certifications went this way. Anyone can get it by reading a book and writing the exam without experience. “Certification without related tangible experience is meaningless.”

This last one sums up my opinion quite well. My soapbox was Project Management Certification (PMP). I have worked with many project managers without PMP certification and some with certification. The experienced project manager who lacks PMP certification has proven to be more competent and successful than the less experienced project manager, who has PMP certification each time.

Due to the low requirements to pass the exam (61% correct answers) and the minimum experience required to be able to take the exam (35 hours PM training and 4500 hours real work experience PM), require specifically from a candidate whether PMP even be considered a project management position automatically leaves candidates Highly experienced and qualified. This is a lazy recruitment process and it means that the organization will not recruit the best candidate available.

However, I think the majority will agree that you have spent time, money and energy to prepare and obtain any certification that is relevant – perhaps even helpful – to the career you have chosen showing a certain level of dedication and perseverance. It can also help align the playground in terms of similar opinions and consistent vocabulary among project colleagues and teammates.

In today’s job market with high unemployment, low salaries and about five unemployed job seekers for every vacancy, human resources departments need to do something to sift through the masses of resumes and candidates they face while filtering for every job. For certain specific areas – including many in the IT industry – certifications can become an easy (though slightly misleading) way to sort the piles of applications and resumes sent by email to reach some manageable ones. Especially.and yes, probably the best candidate for the job in many cases.but you have to hang your hat on something and for human resources this is usually the required certification.

Finally, one respondent in the survey summed it up well when he stated …

  • “Experience plus certification is much better. Usually an experienced person with certification shows that he is at least trying to touch on various aspects of his field.”

Receiving the certification indicates effort and dedication to your field. Looking at them from the job applicant’s point of view, trying to differentiate themselves from the rest of the field, it’s one thing they can take into their own hands and perhaps win a valuable place in this final pool of candidates.

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