Do IT Industry Certifications Mean Anything?
The State of IT Professionals
After writing some exams and reading many study guides I’ve come to the conclusion that these “exams” don’t qualify anyone. The problem is the majority of them can be written without any proof the candidate is actually able to competently function in a live environment. But, that’s what recruiters and many companies want, although it’s not what I look for in my staff.
To be honest I “really don’t care” who has what certifications and although a lot of jobs say “or relevant experience”, trust me, I know HR and I know a lot of recruiters and they put the majority of weight on education and certification. This may sound great in theory because I guess certifications “demonstrate some knowledge” but I know a lot of people in the industry between being an instructor at BCIT and my own companies and I see the gaps in it all.
There are people who do very well in their education and receive multiple certifications but I can vouch that some, if not many of them are not ready for production. It is possible to pass these exams with 0 real world experience and nearly 0 capability to actually function in the workplace successfully.
I’ve seen software engineers who didn’t know what RAID was. I’ve seen Cisco certified techs who had never touched Cisco hardware, I’ve seen DevOps who knew all about everything but didn’t know how to use any of it. I’ve seen cyber security specialists certified in cyber security not follow a single basic security protocol, I’ve seen some crazy stuff.
That’s why we have the kind of data breaches we have today. No wonder Veeam was hacked, no wonder FB was hacked, no wonder Microsoft 365 was hacked, no wonder governments keep getting hacked, no wonder, no wonder. Companies are hiring based on certificates and education without understanding what they are looking for. When I met Bachelor graduates in CompSci I expected them to know their stuff- they didn’t and I shuddered when I had to teach them basics. What were you doing in those 4 years? How did you pass that exam? What the hell is happening to IT?
Spending 4 years on a BA or 8 years on a Masters for tech that is changing year after year seems insane to me. You’re learning off of curriculum that probably hasn’t been changed in a decade- many of these schools hire teachers who haven’t worked in the field in over 5 years, no wonder they can’t teach because they have no idea how much has changed. The current education and certifications is getting IT students ‘used to being lazy’ to ‘no think or problem solve’ but to conform to the new standard of insecurity. IoT is one such tech where we are seeing how much liberty we’re taking with people’s privacy and security.
The other problem to this is HR is hiring these certificate and BA holders who have NO idea what they heck they’re doing. They’re hiring for a paper thinking that the text they learned is enough to get the job done.
We are putting value on AWS certified techs when there really should be NO ONE using AWS. Don’t normalize insecurity and put a price tag on it. In 10 years when AWS turns out to be a privacy and security garbage fire, the news will be talking about it as if it was something no one could have predicted. Just like they’re doing with FB- for a decade now IT security professionals who are seasoned, have been barking about FB dangers and yet I haven’t seen a single interview by a cyber security professional who admitted that they foresaw this.
Accept certificates, but make sure they know their stuff. Don’t assume that they have an ITIL because they know their tech- chances are they know how to memorize, not because they know the material.
If you see someone with decades of experience and no certifications, just remember that seasoned professional was from a time where security was KEY and essential, and they will not only take care of your company data, they’re going to fix it and they know their tech.