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The real dirt on programming certifications

Bob Violino | Aug. 11, 2015
With programmers and developers in such high demand these days, it may be tempting to think that a decision as stodgy as pursuing a certification is a waste of time. After all, doesn't it all come down to the art of your code?

But some certifications are clearly fading in popularity.

"Certifications for more obsolete Web-based programming languages are often disregarded completely, as there's simply no need for them anymore," Wenzler says.

On the systems/applications side, some of the older platform certifications for AIX, Lotus, Novell, and others in that area "are not nearly as useful as they were five years ago," Steiner says.

The bottom line

Not everyone agrees that certifications are necessary to land your dream job -- or that they reflect future performance.

"I am an entirely self-taught developer," Lenda's Murray says. "I dropped out of school after freshman year [in college] because I was learning too slowly, and since I wasn't able to find a technical co-founder I decided to learn to program myself."

Certification "simply means that you have passed someone's test on material in that domain; it doesn't say much about how you will perform as an employee," says Sebastien Taveau, chief developer evangelist at financial services company MasterCard. "Certification is a proxy enquiry for 'are you interested and knowledgeable in this area?' Which may be better than nothing."

As for the future of certifications in the field, experts don't see the need going away.

"Certifications have increased in importance in the recent past," says Sri Ramanathan, CTO of enterprise mobility technology provider Kony. "One driver for this has been the need for more skills and the need to hire in a more distributed and scalable way across geographies. If one is hiring developers in China or India, having an objective to validate competency and skill levels is useful [and] certifications are one vehicle to accomplish that."

More experienced and senior-level programmers "are going ahead and getting certifications as a way to bolster their resumes and add to the ever-growing list of strengths to give an organization a reason to hire them," Wenzler says. "A candidate who has 10 years of experience plus a college degree and a few certifications is a much more attractive candidate than someone who may only bring one of those qualifications to the table."


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