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Ask HN: Did certifications ever help you get a better job?
17 points by 4ipp 3 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 25 comments
How often do certifications help get a better payed job? What certifications are the most valuable?

HN isn't the place to ask this, as the community is suspicious of credentials, be it PMP, CSM, Microsoft MVP, Salesforce Solution Architect, or what have you.

You are much more likely to be told horror stories of when they had to work with an under-prepared person that happened to have one of those certs, and why that means all certs are equally lacking in value.

Suspicion is good :)

I'll take PMP for example. I have made my way through the PMBOK Guide and various satellite publications. I've found some parts very useful, especially when focusing in retrospect.

I have also worked in organisations where HR decide to get 20% of operations and technology staff certified in a year because they're working on projects for no reason other than a box-ticking exercise to show the organisation is a learning organisation. [This is then compounded by one company doing it, then all of the neighbouring ones deciding to do similar.] PM career paths were not opened. Rather, those PM paths that existed were made a lot harder for anyone that now didn't tick the new PMP-box. And I have friends that did it simply because it afforded a small pay rise; many freely admit (brag) the only thing of recall was the sweat that went into a month of cramming before the test; required experience of actual project work was largely imagined.

So, while with great respect to the effort that's been put in by the PMI in creating PMBOK etc, the certification system they use for PMP is broken for determining any signal in competent project management. I'd far prefer someone's blog.

For OP: That does not mean the above makes certificates worthless. Far from it. Getting them can get you through various filters. They can signal an interest in a field or in furthering one's self in a field. They can provide networking opportunities. They are what you make of them.

Hopefully at least some of that suspicion is rooted in truth, otherwise I'm taking some really wrong decisions in my life :-)

No certs have helped me get a job, but the general rule of certs is the same ol' supply demand. The more people that have a particular cert, the less valuable it will be, because it'll mean that it's that much easier to obtain.

And companies want more people certified in their tech so over time, they do ease up on requirements like applied knowledge and experience, etc.

Certifications that require lab work tend to be more valued because they show applied knowledge, unlike multiple choice exams where you could cram for the test without applying any of that knowledge. As for requirements the only thing that comes to mind is DoD requirements in the US, a job I worked required me to get Sec+ before they'd give me network access


5 x AWS certified here (could be 7x tomorrow because I'm missing two entry level certs), with a background in operations instead of development. The AWS certifications have definitely helped me in my career. My previous (and current) gigs were at consultancies, previous happened to be a smaller AWS APN partner. I know for certain that my certifications mattered at my previous job because there were several thresholds they had to pass in order to become a higher class partner and because they added me to the AWS APN partner portal as proof. The number of certifications (including the number of top certifications) was one such threshold. I also believe that the certifications gave me more legitimacy in obtaining my current job in a different country.

20+ years as a software engineer. No certs, but I also have no problem getting a job. I am now thinking of getting AWS certs, as I think those are worth it. The SEC+ is worth it if you want admin privs as a DoD consultant. I've been told the CISCO certs are also definitely worth it, but I was also told they are hard.

I completed CCNA years ago. It wasn't very hard but my one is long out of date.

My understanding is (mind you this is from readings years ago) that the cert after the CCNA (i.e. CCNP) are increasingly difficult. Not sure they're particularly useful for employment as a developer, but for Network engineers I imagine so.

Ah yes, now that you mention it, I have heard that the CCNP is hard to get.

I remember a story about what I think was CCNP. Cisco had you come down to their test lab, set up everything they told you to set up according to constraints given, and then go back home. Part two involved them changing things to cause failures or degradations before you came back, then you had to diagnose and fix it to pass part two.

I hands-on practical test like that should be part of every exam, but it's expensive and time consuming.

That would be CCIE. CCNP is your standard Pearson-proctored multiple choice and such.

If you’re a consultant, then certs can definitely help you get more gigs. I saw a lot of that when I was working in various consulting companies.

If you’re looking to get hired in-house for certain types of work, then certs can help you get past the HR droids that are only looking for checkboxes. That generally becomes less and less applicable as you gain more and more experience.

Beyond that, you have to ask which certs help you learn something that you didn’t already know, and which ones aren’t worth the e-paper they’re printed on.

I’m an old-school Unix SysAdmin/DevOps guy, with over 30 years of experience in the industry. Over the years I’ve been in the business, I have found very few certs that were worthwhile. The Cisco certs used to be something meaningful, but I don’t know if they still are. None of the rest of the certs that I used to value are still being taught — who remembers NetWare?

I think some of the higher-end AWS certs are useful, but you have to start at the bottom and work your way up. Which I am now doing.

Even if all you’ve got right now are the lower-level certs, one thing they can show is your willingness to put up with BS to get some sort of minor reward. And your intention to go for something greater.

No. The only time I was sent off to get certs was when customers demanded that {x} percentage of staff have one. Even then my certs were never questioned in interviews nor did any hiring managers ask about them in later positions. They were more interested in experience and knowledge.

I spend a lot of my time delivering training for Microsoft certs. After 20 years as a sysadmin I still learn new stuff while preparing training materials. Microsoft Learn provides a lot of excellent, free resources/labs.

It tickles me how loved up Microsoft are these days over Linux and open source. I teach Microsoft certs while running Linux on the desktop (running azure tools, vs code, dotnet, sqlserver and teams).

Certs won't guarantee you a better job but you will learn something new and there are worse things you can do with your time.

I was rejected from a scrum master job for not having the certification. As well as the security related jobs (CCNA) which is why I never went that path despite it being my degree.

In the distant past, I sometimes did certifications to increase my knowledge, but almost never advertised the fact. Generally, what you can demonstrably do is worth more than a certificate.

It helped my company sell me to clients, when I was a consultant.

Having a cloud certified consultant, was a big deal for clients who needed help getting into the cloud.

What certification did you have?

A professional certification from GCP: https://cloud.google.com/certification

I've done some for my own learning/amusement but I don't put them on my resume and it has never come up in interviews.

Not sure but certificates can be a good way to onboard new stacks or technology

With a solid undergrad and track record it shouldn't matter.

No, don't have any.

What do you classify as a certification? Degree? Vendor certification? Government license?

Obviously a plumber’s or electricians license will make you big money here in Australia. My law degree and lawyers certification does not (over supply of lawyers). I did a masters but that was more to learn. No one asked to see grades ever.

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