Are certifications worth it?

By Mark Schroffel

Business must be booming for training companies and accreditation bodies.

As any job seeking knowledge worker out there will tell you, certifications need to be on CVs just to make it into the market, let alone onto any short list. In the IT and project management industry certifications are the proverbial ticket to ride.

The good and the bad of it is that most certifications are easy to get. The process usually goes like this:

  • Step 1: Pay your money (most crucial step of all)
  • Step 2: Attend an exam preparation course (AKA certification program)
  • Step 3: Complete your exam while knowledge is still fresh (luckily pass rates are usually close to 100%)
  • Step 4: Update your CV and market your new qualification

Well that’s a bit of generalisation, as there are serious professional bodies out there who demand evidence of experience and rigorously assess their candidates for membership classification. Despite this, professional associations always seem to have that hue of self-interest about them.

My cynicism aside, I can’t help but think that the whole certification thing is getting out of hand and that we are overestimating their value as a proxy for evaluating real-life skills and experience.

Judging by the proliferation of certifications, I’d have to concede that they must be worth it – though I’m just not sure for whom, the punter handing over their hard earned or for the businesses endorsing them for the fee.

Are accreditation bodies serving industry, or are they an industry happily serving themselves?

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