Which certification is the best? At Jidaw, this is a massively popular question in the IT certification scene. Candidates always want to know. The assumption is that some certifications are better than others; and that there is one particular certification that is “king” – the best.
The implied logic is this: it doesn’t make sense to waste time and resources on “inferior” certifications. Why not cut the process short and just go for the best? Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way. First of all, in career development there is nothing like best or better. Sure some certifications are quite popular – some are attract more crowds than others. But Jidaw asks: does that make them better? Let’s go outside IT and move into the field of medicine and ask a simple question – is dentistry superior to neurosurgery? Or even in the general career fields, will you say a lawyer is better than a civil engineer? The reasoning behind the question is understandable but in reality makes no sense in career development.
Certain popular certifications draw large numbers in the market, but “best” is another matter entirely. Longing for the “best” with a shortcut mentality? At Jidaw we advise trainees to shake the “best” syndrome out of their systems.
Certifications that are hugely popular in the IT industry include: Oracle Certified Professional, Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS), Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional (MCITP), Microsoft Certified System Engineer (MCSE), Computing Technology Industry Association’s (CompTIA’s) A+, Network+, Security+, Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) and Oracle Certified Professional, Java Programmer (OCPJP) certifications. But can you say one is the best?
Within the Cisco certification structure, CCNP is a higher level certification than CCNA, but best? Give me a break! Popularity is one thing, choosing the right certification for you is another animal entirely. A popular variant of this question usually asked at the Jidaw career seminar is:”Which is better CCNA or MCSE?“ Interesting, but it reflects the often unhealthy focus on using popularity alone to make certification and career decisions. Even though MCSE is no longer available and has been replaced by MCTS and MCITP, it still has a huge following. CCNA and MCSE are two of the world’s most well recognized certifications, but does comparing them make sense? It’s like comparing apples and oranges. For a start CCNA is a foundational certification, while MCSE validated advanced level expertise. CCNA validates fundamental Cisco networking skills – the basics of configuring Cisco hardware (routers and switches) while MCSE covered Microsoft networking skills – installing, configuring Microsoft network operating systems. So the levels and scopes are different. At Jidaw we emphasize that there is no basis for comparison or rating one as “better” than the other.
Forget Best, Know Yourself
Rather than yearning for the “best”, understand your needs and choose certifications and career tools that will help you realize your potentials. There are no “cure-alls” in certification. What works for you may not work for me. Our interests are not always the same. There are no silver bullet certifications that address all your career issues. Know yourself, know where you are going and be sure that certification will take you to your destination. What are your career needs? Forget popularity. Is your career gap one that can be closed by certification? Which certifications in your area of interest connect with your career needs? Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) certification is highly regarded as the world’s toughest networking certification, but why should CCIE interest you, if your desire is in the field of programming? Maintain focus and don’t get carried away. Jidaw stresses: Drop the herd mentality and stop following the crowd. Career development is an individual matter. Run your own race; don’t become a passenger in the journeys of others.
Get real knowledge about certifications that matter and what they have to offer. How does the certification match your interests, background and career goals? Is achieving the certification integral to your career plan? Does the certification bond with what is “in your blood”?
Shift from your popularity “best” attention and concentrate on achieving certifications that enhance your value and fit in your career ambitions.
If your interests are in the database area, there are options in Oracle (11i/11g), Microsoft (SQL Server 2005) and MySQL. Networking certifications validate Cisco, Microsoft (Server 2008), Linux (Linux+, Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE)) networking skills and knowledge. CompTIA validates fundamental, vendor neutral expertise.
Jidaw asks: What is best for you? Share your ideas and opinions.
Innovation and Development Advisor, ICT at Jidaw
ICT Development Advisory Support and Consulting