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(jeffa) Why I Hate Certifications

by jeffa (Bishop)
on Jan 25, 2002 at 22:16 UTC ( #141571=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Certification Foo

I have two Microsoft VB Certs and one Sun Java Programmer Cert. They are somewhere with the rest of my junk collecting dust.

I have grown to really believe that most certifications are a scam, especially the Microsoft program. Sun's cert program is better, so i will leave them alone and focus on Microsoft's certification exams. All they acurately test is how well you memorize syntax and how many Transcender CD's you have trained with. The bottom line is money.

The cost is about $100-150 (usd) for each test, but you really need a third party trainer, either books or a training software provider such as the expensive but effective Transcender. Here is how much they are charging for their VB/VBA-Cert Pak (cookie alert).

So, if you have the cash to afford Transcender, chances are, you will pass. Transcender offers about 3 tests with each CD, and each one made me feel like the professor gave me a special crib sheet just before i took the test. They are not cheating, but they sure do cut the fat out.

Most IT hirers who go by certifications tend to work with third party Microsoft development shops anyway. These shops pay for their employees training and certification, i've actually worked for one and i really feel sorry for those who foot their own bill to get certified. While working for this employer, i quickly got the impression that we 'consultants' were getting our certs for the purpose of our own social status, rather than for our clients. On top of that, our clients completely believed that someone with a certification was more than capable of doing the job, that was criteria enough.

The kicker - once you are certified, you have to maintain that certification. I was lucky and took the VB6.0 relatively early, my certs have not expired yet. But they will. That means that i have pay another fee and pass another test to keep up. Are you starting to see the scam in action yet?

This next item is my own personal paranioa, but i'll share anyway. I accuse Microsoft of tailoring their API to their certification exams. It makes sense - an inconsistent API will cause more exam takers to miss questions, such as this one (that i made up): "More elements can be added to a Collection object with the _____ method:"

  • A. add()
  • B. add_item()
  • C. add_element()
  • D. pay_fee()
First. Who cares?!?!?! Blindly memorizing API facts does not a good programmer make. A more acurate test would be, "Here is the manual, you've got one minute to find the answer".

Second. It is a trick question, because MOST all objects in VB that hold things allow you to add elements with a add_item() method .... except the Collection object which uses add(). Dirty tricks, and that's just the tip - there are also questions that will only be answered correctly if you agree with Microsoft's philosophy.

So, what's the alternative? I personally believe that building a portfolio is a better way of showcasing one's ability. Make a web site, a CD 'business card', anything. If your potential employee wants certifications, then chances are that they just want another cookie-cutter programmer. And that is what MS Certs really say about you, that you blindly follow directions without questioning why you are using a particular (their) solution.

Now, is this really what you want to see happen to Perl? PerlMonks IS Perl certification. ;)


(the triplet paradiddle with high-hat)

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Re: Why I Hate Certifications
by FoxtrotUniform (Prior) on Jan 25, 2002 at 22:38 UTC

    PerlMonks IS Perl certification. ;)

    So when do you suppose we'll start seeing PerlMonks XP minima in job advertisements? Stupid companies are going to rely on worthless metrics no matter what you do.

    Yes, it's a joke. Go on, laugh, you'll feel better. ;-)

      I did :-) Unfortunately I don't have any votes left today. :-/ I'm sorry if my mindlessly spending them too quickly made you miss XP you needed for your applications ;-)

      Makeshifts last the longest.

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