I’ve never been a big fan of technical certifications. The primary reason being that I’ve met far to many certified people that clearly didn’t understand the material they were supposedly certified in. I once met a Certified Novell Engineer that was booting a NetWare 4.x server from a floppy disk because he didn’t understand how to transfer the DOS system files to a hard disk. He told me it wasn’t possible. Hint: sys c: – it was probably the first DOS command I ever learned way back in 1991 imaging IBM PS/2 desktops with DOS v3.3.
Over the past few years I’ve softened my position as I’ve met more and more truly talented and certified people. I still see the occasional book smart person that can answer every question correctly 99% of the time but quite literally cracks under real world scenarios and pressure. Again there are quite a few examples but one of the best examples – a senior network engineer was dispatched to replace a failed CPU/SF, the engineer was warned to make sure he only removed the failed CPU/SF and not the remaining active CPU/SF. Well you guessed it, he removed the only remaining working CPU/SF from the chassis bringing down the network.
In healthcare such a simple mistake can itself lead to a potential life or death situation, this is so much more the case today than it was 10 years ago with all the centralized monitoring and alarming. There simply aren’t enough nurses on the floor these days to monitor every patient individually. The network is critical to real-time patient care and life safety.
I’ve often referred to the Qualified Network Engineer (QNE) being just as desirable as a Certified Network Engineer (CNE). In February 2011 I wrote an article entitled, “How to separate the wheat from the chaff” on this blog. The purpose of that post was to provide hiring managers some basic non-vendor specific questions they could ask potential applicants to gauge the candidate’s depth of knowledge and understanding.
Years later, wiser and more seasoned, I now see a benefit in holding a few certifications from a career path standpoint, in conjunction with a deeper technical understanding of the products and technologies employed in each solution. Last fall I decided to seek out a few of these certifications to enhance my resume and round out my real-life work experiences. To date I’ve accumulated the following certifications;
- Avaya Certified Support Specialist (ACSS)
- Cisco Certified Network Associate Routing and Switching (CCNA)
- Juniper Networks Certified Associate – Junos (JNCIA)
- Juniper Networks Certified Specialist – Security (JNCIS)
- VMware Certified Associate – Data Center Virtualization (VMA-DCV)
I’ll be the first to admit there’s nothing really special about any of the certifications above, they are just very basic entry level certifications for each vendor. I will say that the JCNIS was probably the hardest one but even it wasn’t too difficult. I say that since I work with all of these technologies day after day so they are very familiar to me. That’s not to say that there aren’t always a few questions on these exams which leave me scratching my head.
What’s next you ask? Well, I’ll probably complete the CCNP because its probably the most interesting to me personally. I could probably pass the CISSP as well but I’m not sure I have the time to commit in covering all that (boring) material. And if they ever change the prerequisite requirements for the VMware Certified Professional (VCP), I’d like to complete that certification since I spend a lot of my time working with VMware vSphere ESXi these days.
What’s your opinion of IT certifications? Which ones do you hold today? Any future plans? Career growth or technical development?
Image Credit: Mortar Board 2 by Renata Jun