The short answer is yes, but as with most things in life, “it depends.”
As competitiveness within the IT job market increases, the need to stand out among the competition also increases. Attaining a specialized certification has become a very common way for technology professionals to differentiate themselves against each other in the job pool. The increased attractiveness of these certifications has led to more qualified candidates, but has also in turn partly diluted the true value of certain certifications. Because of this, candidates should focus their efforts on completing certification programs that will directly benefit them and allow them to grow their skills as opposed to racking up certifications simply to put on a resume.
Determining whether an IT certification will be worth it for you depends on a number of factors that should be considered before enrolling yourself in different programs and trainings. Outlined below is a list of the most important factors to consider in order to choose the certification(s) that will provide the most benefit and biggest bang for your buck.
1) Which ones do you really NEED?
There are many different options when evaluating tech certifications and some may seem similar to each other. The most important thing to do when deciding among certifications is to outline your current job duties and also what you think your duties will be later in your career. Be sure to align your certifications to assure it will further develop your skills and career.
2) How much will it benefit you and your career?
Before jumping into certification courses, do a little research. Scan forums, internet articles, and tech related chat rooms to discover any articles or discussions about the certifications. Often times other people may have the same questions and concerns as yourself, and speaking with individuals who have dealt first hand with the certifications may be the best source of knowledge. If possible, discuss the preparation and time commitment involved with the process, and get their opinion on the perceived benefits they had from the certification training and testing.
3) Is the cost justified?
Certification tests aren’t cheap, so it only makes sense to take them if you know the end result will justify the initial investment. You can learn about most certification test pricing online, so determining the initial investment shouldn’t prove to be very difficult. Some websites and publications such as Dice.com publish research outlining which certifications are most in demand and an average salary of individuals who have those certifications. Once you determine the cost of the test and have an estimate of what a fair salary figure may be as a result, you are able to quickly determine if the initial investment will pay for itself in the long run.
4) Can you learn from it?
While a salary increase is always a great benefit, the main goal of attaining a tech certification should be gain more knowledge and increase your personal skillset. Simply attaining a certification and not actually putting the knowledge and information gained to use in your career will eventually cause the certification to be obsolete. Hiring managers don’t simply look for certifications on resumes, they look for individuals who have the certifications and can demonstrate mastery of the content covered under that certification. Being able to prove to employers that the certification is more than just a few words and letters on paper is the key to making the most of your certification.
Making a tech certification “worth it” for you requires more work than simply passing a test. The knowledge and new information learned through the certification process should be the ultimate takeaway. Individuals who are able to use and apply the knowledge gained from a certification to further their careers will almost always be the ones who can truly justify their investment.
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