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Re: Certifications are dumb.

by sundialsvc4 (Abbot)
on Apr 09, 2008 at 21:24 UTC ( #679354=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Certifications are dumb.

Something to consider:   no matter how good you are at Perl, your skill-set is not particularly unique. So, if all that you have to offer me is, “I know Perl! tah-daaah!” ... I'm gonna give you a blank stare and reply, “So?”

I can take any suitably-washed person off the street and in less than six months turn him or her into a functional Perl programmer. After a manner of speaking, that is...

I could teach him or her the fundamental, basically rote skills of “a code-monkey.” I could also teach him enough to allow him to acquire a certification! But I could not embue him or her with experience.

They say that there are three stages of knowledge:

  1. You know what you don't know. (Stares at you with dumbfounded amazement.)
  2. You don't know what you don't know. (Knows just enough to be dangerous.)
  3. You don't know what you know. (Master.)
The most-difficult stage is the second one... which is where most people rush out to buy “certifications.” They might be seeking it as a form of education, but much more likely they seek it to validate their present level of knowledge and experience ... which they don't yet know to be limited.

A person who has proceeded to Mastery no longer seeks validation. He or she might be just as puzzled as the next person when faced with a new and unfamiliar situation, but he or she possesses a depth of experience, from working with this language or from some other, to which the present situation can relate. He or she comes up with a suitable answer, and may or may not be able to immediately say where it came from.

More important than this, though, is the fact that a Master's predictions and strategies, while you may not initially understand them nor appreciate them, will be well-reasoned and reliable. The thought-process expressed by such a person makes startling “intuitive leaps” rather than a pedantic progression. The downside to this approach, though, is that many Masters are very specialized in their knowledge, very-deep though it may be. Yet there are people out there, bringing down salaries well into six figures, who are Masters of many things.

The unionized trades have a formalized progression that matches this:   Apprentice, Journeyman, Master. You cannot buy a “fast-forward” button. The only way to progress is... time. Each stage is usually also accompanied by a formal testing and certification process, standard to that union and that industry, but you are required to spend a certain amount of on-the-job time at each stage before being eligible for advancement.

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