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Ask HN: Any certification that is worth it? Legitimately helped your career?
349 points by akudha on June 25, 2022 | hide | past | favorite | 424 comments
Free or paid. Both tech and non-tech (scrum, PMP etc)

I collect a lot of certs for fun, but most have not been helpful. I still like to collect them anyway.

I think OSCP was the most legitimately useful in tech https://www.offensive-security.com/pwk-oscp/

PMP has been useful to take on Project Manager roles, but really PrM roles aren't all that exciting to begin with. Still helps when you want to run your own projects.

I'm currently studying to be a certified parliamentarian from the National Association of Parliamentarians. I'm interested in corporate governance and learning Roberts Rules of Order definitely helps.

I'm also a certified farmer (yeah its a thing), I have 5 sailing certs, 3 scuba certs, Wilderness Emergency Medical Responder cert, working on my pilots license, getting my real estate sales license, ham radio operator general class, almost done with my CDL, there's lots more I'd have to check my notes on.

I do want to get a Kubernetes cert done this year. Long term I want to knock out my CPA/CFA exams, but those are a huge commitment so we will see if it pans out.

Most of this response hasn't answered your question at all, because certs really are mostly useless. Still fun to collect.

I'd imagine financial certs would be the most useful (CFA in particular).

If anyone knows any other fun certs let me know.

Pilot license is great because it gets you into thinking about how we make data driven decisions under pressure. And actual flying solo after you get your license helps because you do a kind of self analysis every time you screw up - even the minor stuff. There’s a lot of study and focus on human factors which is the primary cause of accidents. So it’s great to build self awareness.

Congrats on your OSCP - I run a cybersec biz and some of my colleagues have that cert and I’m always impressed when I hear someone has it. I’m a CISSP but I think an OSCP is more practical.

Ham radio extra which is elec eng focused rather than just rules of the airwaves is a good one. (I’m callsign WT1J)

In our biz I really appreciate it when folks have a Network+ or Security+ or a Linux admin cert because you can’t argue with the value of knowing networking fundamentals and the Linux command line. In fact knowledge of Linux command line is my leading indicator of competency for a QA role we have open. I look at answers to this question first every time. Next thing I look at is SQL knowledge- because I think both of these are strong predictors of deeper technical capability.

Certs are underrated IMHO because most of them provide practical knowledge that is immediately applicable in a work setting or other pastime. They give you real skills.

Lastly AWS certs are also super practical and very valuable IMO.

Great question OP!

> Lastly AWS certs are also super practical and very valuable IMO.

And then they roll out new services almost weekly.

Quite a moving target.

Au contraire, AWS has a stable of foundational services that have not moved in a long time and a worthwhile knowing, no matter what service-du-jour gets rolled out. Not a moving target at all.

The cert expires in a couple years, and you have to get it again, with some new stuff added though.

I've got my AWS solutions architect associate and professional, they expire in 3 years.

Azure is the worst offender, offering certs that expire in ONE year. No thanks.

Google certs expire after 2 years.

At least you don't have to pay for renewals of Microsoft role-based certifications. "You can renew your Microsoft Certifications by simply passing a free, unproctored, online renewal assessment on Microsoft Learn, instead of retaking exams. The assessments measure the skills you need to remain up to date in your job role. They’re shorter than the original exams because they focus only on the latest technology changes." [1]

[1]: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/learn/certifications/renew-...

I genuinely did not know this, thanks for the info. Unproctored? Wow, either the exam material must be insanely difficult or they just don't care. Interesting.

AWS is also proprietary which I failed to point out - but it’s so widely used and has such great market share that it’s not a bad life skill at this point.

That's a fair point.

Past CDL holder here.

Fyi, you are then a "professional driver" even in a normal car driving to the grocery. If you get a ticket, many states will instantly double the fine because as a pro, "you know better". Plus there's the medical aspect and other bullshit.

Unless you're going to actually use it, dont get it. Learn to drive an 18 speed with air brakes etc, sure. Just dont get the actual cdl.

to add to this, if you dont actually use your SCUBA or first responder or pilot skills on a regular basis, those certs are worthless at best, and dangerous at worst.

I don't have wilderness first responder but I do have wilderness first aid and keep it more or less up to date.

I wouldn't try something complicated like a traction splint unless there was really no other option and possibly even then--not sure they even teach it in WFA any longer. But, for the most part having a weekend class to refresh a lot of first aid isn't a bad thing even if you don't practice it all the time, may have forgotten some of the details, and maybe your splints aren't the world's greatest. But so long as you're cognizant of your limitations having some even somewhat stale first aid training is probably better than having none.

[Of course, if you act like your 10 year old WFR or W-EMT cert means you're qualified to charge in and take over because you're "certified" that of course can be an issue.]

Most of the wilderness FA certs have a 3-year expiration. IDK if this was always true, but it's definitely a thing now.

If you're using your certification to qualify for a professional or volunteer position, then they usually defer to the expiry period set by the issuer of the certification.

In my experience, basically nobody gets any first aid practice, in between re-certifications. And these are perishable skills, so I wouldn't trust in the ability of most people to execute anything complex after even a year has gone by... But that has to be balanced against the cost of re-training. WMR is usually an 80-hour course (IIRC) and re-certs more like 30-40? That's an absurd time investment for most working people.

Interesting how fast memory fades

80h, that's almost one's whole summer vacation

Yeah... I'm trying to work out how to fit it in, later this year. I have a 40hr cert that's expiring, later this year, but the stuff I'm really interested in doing requires the full 80hr WFR.

I hope that more of these courses can evolve into a hybrid online model, where you can use distance learning to spread some of the coursework out, ahead of time.

This is true, but I do try to keep the training up. I'm certainly not doing it every weekend, but I train a minimum of 3-4 times per year for W-EMR. Scuba, honestly so long as you do it once or twice a year you're fine, it's really not terribly hard.

i have an open water cert and dive 4-6 times a year. it's fine for just myself, but if you have a higher level cert like rescue, then you may be asked or expected to assist others in emergencies.

thankfully, most places are very careful not to take cert cards from unfamiliar faces at face value.

I thank that is a crappy attitude. If I am on a dive and there is a lost diver or some other incident in the area, I want to have the skills to be able to help.

I would note that "asked or expected" is different than "required", so there really is no downside to doing a rescue diver class or a divemaster program. In fact, I highly recommend it and it was a lot of fun.

There is a negative, though, and I have experienced it diving. Diving is often a razor thin or no margin business, and selling cert courses can be easy money. Few scuba schools will fail students who are not up to snuff, because they might have to issue a refund or endure bad reviews. Some of these certifications will give incompetent divers a false sense of ability, and in an emergency situation, rather than staying out of the way, they create another problem.

The solution to that would seem to be recommending that people choose dive schools that take their Job seriously and don't pass people who haven't mastered the skills. Recommending against getting training is throwing the baby out with the bath water.

If you have no experience, just a cert, then you should stay out of the way with those with experience and help as requested.

However, with many dive accidents, you don't have the luxury of waiting for a more experienced diver and having that training will give you a better chance of saving your buddy's life.

> recommending that people choose dive schools that take their Job seriously and don't pass people who haven't mastered the skills

I think the point was that such schools get bad reviews, and look like bad choices, might get out completed by more lax schools

Apparently academia (universities) works a bit in the same way, there was a recent HN discussion

In my experience, I was able to fairly accurately glean a lot about the culture of a dive shop by the reviews it got.

I think that people often just go with the cheapest option without doing the additional research.

The people should definitely get the training, but probably without the cert. The cert for certain things, like rescue in particular, should probably be validated by an external agency that isn't the school

unless you have actual experience in helping, your "help" can quickly become a liability, no matter how well intentioned.

not to say you shouldnt get a rescue cert, but that alone is insufficient if you have no actual and recent or long term experience.

On the flip side, if you have never tried to rescue an unconscious diver and have to do it for the first time without any training, you are not going to have the luxury of making all the mistakes you will make in the rescue class.

While a cert is no substitute for experience, if you are going to gain that experience, it is much better to have a cert than not.

Lapsed EMT here--this is 100% true.

For recreational scuba this is misleading. The cert is proof of going through training at some point, which differentiates you from someone who has never been breathing under water, cleared your mask and reg, and knows basic buoyancy control. These skills are not intuitive so the main thing is exposure, which the cert proves to a large extent.

Dive shops with more advanced dives ask for total and recent experience as well, and sometimes require you to do a refresher or dive with them once before they take you on the advanced dives (deep, night, high current, overhead obstacles etc). The OW cert is a big contributing factor, but it's not the only data point.

That said most other recreational certs are useless and just a money grab, even including advanced, imo. Shops generally rate OW+30 recent dives higher than OW+AOW, and rightly so.

The National Association of Rocketry which supports model rocketry clubs and such has a tiered certification for High Power Rocketry (HPR) which is where you get into building very large models and packing your own motors. These certifications involve the usual written exam, but you also have to design a rocket in your target class- and get the design reviewed, and then build it- and get the build reviewed for safety, and then fly it. Since it's more than a book -> test certification and involves an actual hands-on engineering project, I'd consider it a fun one.


I got irritated with the size of a quote for my heat pump repair, so I got an HVAC certification and did the repair myself. A little time, $300 worth of equipment from Amazon and it is still running great after several years. I needed the HVAC certification to buy the refrigerant. Saved several thousand dollars.

I was going to add the EPA 608 as well. Not only does it allow you to buy/use refrigerant, but it usually counts for warranties for HVAC equipment. Mini-splits and things like that usually want a 'certified technician' to do the install (or at least the refrigerant work), and your EPA number qualifies you. My state doesn't even have the concept of an HVAC licensed contractor, only the EPA cert applies.

Note: the EPA 608 has multiple levels. For mini splits under about 2 tons, you might be able to get by with just your EPA 608 core and Type 1 (small appliances, <5lb of refrigerant) Type 1 + core can be done online, open-book, and costs $25. Nobody should install a mini split without it!

That's awesome. I want to get HVAC certified. First I'll knock out welding though.

You can do it without the cert, it's just the recyclers usually won't take your reclaimed refrigerant.

I'd feel worse about it, but generally the HVAC companies in an area are extremely predatory and only quote out new systems when a simple repair would suffice.

How long did the certification take and how did you go about getting it?

I got the cert 10 years ago (EPA 608, not automotive EPA 609). 60 minutes of studying two different study packets I found online. Found a local test-giver, and called them up to schedule the test.

And after that you felt competent to do your own repairs? If so I know what I am doing the next few weekends.

I watched a lot of videos made by technicians and did a lot of reading. It doesn't take too long to study enough to get the basic certification, but that is not the whole story. I have done lots of electronic prototyping and test system creation, copper plumbing, etc., so I felt comfortable with tools and electro-mechanical systems. If your entire career has been behind a keyboard, you have a lot more than an hour of studying ahead of you.

Correct me if I'm wrong but I think 80% of it boils down to "do not release refrigerant gas into the atmosphere"

You're not wrong.

The test does not cover how to do repairs or fix HVACs. I learned that elsewhere.

The test (and studying for the test) does not cover how to do repairs or fix HVACs. I learned that elsewhere.

As far as I know, CPA in most states requires 150 hours of college credit, of which many must be in accounting. My CPA friends largely joined the big four firm on the strength of their CPA, spent a little time in audit, then promptly switched to consulting. What you get from that certification is the ability to sign corporate audits, own an accounting firm, and the right to prepare and defend tax returns. Unless you are preparing for a second career in accounting, CPA seems like a lot to bite off, but good on you! I don’t envy you all the cost accounting headaches and audit rules.

CFA requires that you have work experience making investment decisions and can get references to that effect, but in all it would be easier than CPA.

Can confirm, plus there’s a 1 year requirement to work in the industry to get the certification after passing the test, and a continuing education requirement to maintain it. I studied accounting and passed the test, but immediately started working in tech so technically I’m not certified. The test was a beast and took about a year and a half to pass all 4 parts, and if you don’t pass all 4 within a window of time the old ones expire.

Correct. I'll need to take classes. I found an online masters in accounting that's AACSB accredited https://onlinemsa.illinois.edu/

I'll knock that out then take the charter exam, if I pass then I'll consider doing part time work as an accountant for two years to get the hours.

I perked up recently when I learned that one can now become an accredited investor via a Series 7, Series 65, or Series 82 license, bypassing the income/net worth requirements[0].

[0] https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/092815/how-b...

Unfortunately, the Series 65 is the only one that you can do without working for a financial company. Moreover, you need to not only pass the exam but we registered with the state and pay an anual fee. I believe.

Related article and HN discussion from last year: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28855330

Woah! That seems like a big deal! Cool find, thank you.

Study almond growing to become certifiably nuts.

Or get a masters degree in cosmology so you can put "Master of the Universe" on your CV.

This only makes sense if your pronouns are He/Man.

TIL women can't be masters of anything?

I suppose you could make a She/Ra pronouns joke. Or maybe Battle/Cat if you’re a furry.

If you do rain studies, you can call yourself rainmaker.

Study the history of obscure German counties to become certifiably in Sayn!

Though almonds are technically seeds, not nuts.

I reckon you are the kind of person that would put tomatoes in a fruit salad XD

Sounds seedy.

"You are technically correct. The best kind of correct" -- Administrator who chaired the committee that selected the cover of the book of rules.

A rare actually tasteful “technically…,” thank you.

Well, actually… :-)

Wow, that is quite a collection. What kind of work do you do?

One thing I am wondering is how much these certificates cost. For example, quickly glancing through your OSCP link says the minimum is $1499, it is not cheap!

Thank you for mentioning NAP, I didn't know this was a thing (I suspect most people don't)

Fun certs - I did this last year https://www.pearsonpte.com/ and thoroughly enjoyed it. Unlike many tech certs, to pass language exams one has to really know the language. This exam is 100% computerized, so we don't have to deal with biases of examiners, which is what happened to me with IELTS.

I worked as a product manager in crypto for awhile, but now I just hack on my own projects.

A pilot's license can easily cost over $10k. I can't afford it right now but flying is a dream for me that I'm working towards.

If you have a few hours to spare, you can become a certified rat tickler for free here: https://www.nc3rs.org.uk/3rs-resources/rat-tickling/rat-tick...

Can recommend!

The rats dig it.

https://www.nmra.org/education/achievement-program offers 11 levels of certification for people like us who have a profound need for external validation. My certification list overlaps with yours about 60% but Certified Parliamentarian is next level, my hat is off to you

Oh please share your list. I'd love to hear it.

Aviation - private pilot airplane single engine land; instrument rating airplane; complex, high performance, and tailwheel endorsements; part 107 remote pilot; DC flight restricted zone; instrument ground instructor (this might be a good one for you, just take the FOI and then AGI or IGI written tests and visit your local FSDO to get the cert issued). Considering getting my commercial, multiengine, and CFI certs

Maritime - master 100 tons inland / mate near coastal plus a bunch of random crap the USCG throws on there if you get those (need to renew these this year); American Sailing Association 101, 103, 104

Scuba - just the useful ones here cause I have a whole wallet memorializing money flushed down the drain: rescue diver, ice diver, solo diver, drysuit, open circuit advanced nitrox/deco procedures, 45m helitrox closed circuit rebreather w/deco, certified Poseidon regulator+rebreather repair technician (though the big thing I learned was just to send my gear to pros working with this stuff every day). Currently my big focus is training up to take the 60m normoxic trimix rebreather course in the fall

Radio - general class ham (failed the extra by like two questions, in my defense I had only studied for general), restricted radiotelephone operator (literally just a cash payment, needed this once for a flight I had planned to Canada)

Other - authorized to perform marriages, motorcycle endorsement on driver's license, certified analytics professional (took the test on a whim and passed, it's since lapsed but I might see if they'll let me re-up it), notary public (lapsed), have thought about doing PMP since I'd be good to go on experience reqs

I started an EMT course a while back but I dropped out after realizing I was never going to be able to remain at all proficient. I'm like this with my aviation instrument rating as well, I keep legally current with it but I am pretty cautious about relying on proficiency since I'm not flying multiple times a week

Probably some others I'm forgetting but these are the big ones! I remain really impressed with your list, you've come up with some good ones...will have to think on whether I need to pursue some of them myself :-)

Also, just to clarify my verbiage on the ground instructor bit, not at all saying that you couldn't do all the other aviation ones too (and you should, they were all a blast to get) and more...just that ground instructor is one you should specifically look into because it is relatively little-known, is straightforward and cheap to get for people like us who clearly find tests easy, and offers a fair amount of practical benefits (advanced ground instructor can teach ground for ANY part 61 rating, also you don't have to retake FOI if you ever go for CFI...flight schools in my area will absolutely hire someone on a ground instructor cert alone). No intent meant to cast any aspersions or to minimize any accomplishments!

Can personally recommend a Part 107 cert for flying drones. Particularly since you mention your pilots license. It's nice to fly and not worry someone is going to say you're posting might be commercial - because that's ok with the cert. The FAA card is actually pretty nice, and whipping it out can stop some (though not all) of the folks who want to complain about any drone they see.

I read this and thought, damn he sounds a lot like a PM I used to work with at IO. Then I saw the username ;) Hope you're doing well man - Ed

Hi Ed! Hope you're still kicking ass! I'll reach out!

CFA and CPA are not really comparable (even though they're both 'finance'). A CPA charter is closer to a JD degree / bar exam in that it is the necessary entry requirement for a legally defined profession (with quite steady demand). A CFA is more like a Master's in that it can help you get an interview for financial analyst jobs, but it is neither necessary nor sufficient to work as one. But it can help a great deal, that's true, especially when you're transitioning.

Also, those are some pretty serious things to do as a hobby.

Well I’m a serious guy.

A co-worker once told me he had two of three certifications for fireworks. I forget what they were exactly, maybe one for manufacturing, one for transportation, and one for operations.

I believe these can vary by state in the US but there’s some ATF requirements as well. ‘Operations’ are called ’exhibitor license’ and there are two of them. I’m getting my assistant exhibitors license now, which is the entry point. Once I have demonstrated sufficient proficiency, a lead exhibitor will sign off on my application to become a lead exhibitor. This will likely take a few years.

There is a separate certification for anything involving open flames. Including things like Dave Chapelle using a lighter to light a cigarette.

Storage, transport and manufacturing certs are independent of these and and all involve the ATF in the US (starting with Form 54). It’s actually pretty complex trying to figure out alone, I had to get plugged into the local pyrotechnics guild for them to lay it out for me.

Thanks for sharing the info. Super helpful!

My number one tip for anybody interested in this would be to contact the Pyrotechnics Guild International any locate in-state guilds that can take you under their wing and help you along the way. There are two in my state and they’ve both been remarkably receptive and helpful.

If you don't intend working in finance, but rather want that knowledge for your own investing, it's possible to just follow the CFA books on your own. AFAIK, level 3 is useless for the non-professional that won't be managing a portfolio worth millions.

I had started learning level 1, but realized I'm kind of wasting my time allocating much brain juice to it before growing my income/net worth.

That's true, but I'd still like to give it a shot. It's a massive commitment as you know, so we'll see if it pans out. If I do it I'll probably be committing to 2 hours per day for the next three years.

Oh god your CV must be a headhunter's wet dream.

It's not. Fit trumps quantity and quality any time.

I'm not OP, but I also have quite a bouquet of certifications. Why? Mostly because I love to learn and I also love to work towards goals. Also most certifications[1] are not that hard once you've figured out how to deal with scenario based multiple choice questions. It's a low effort way to focus my learning.

When it comes to hiring - and as someone who sat at both sides of the table - any certificate outside of what is expected in your industry does more harm than good.

[1] OSCP is the exception to the rule

> When it comes to hiring [...] any certificate outside of what is expected in your industry does more harm than good

Huh - this is surprising to hear. I would have thought that random extra certifications would act as indicators that a) you're a naturally focused and capable person (rather than just cosplaying one for salary), and b) you have interests outside of work (so will be a more well-rounded and pleasant person to work around). Can you elaborate on the ways in which you find non-standard certifications to be harmful?

Being focused and having lots of random interests are mutually exclusive, that should be obvious. Having lots of unrelated certificates signals the latter. If it's the case for you, only mention what's relevant for the job or what actually reflects your personality (so if you're a serious scuba diver, by all means mention it under 'Interests'; but if you got a certificate on vacation 5 years ago and have haven't done any diving since, just don't).

>Being focused and having lots of random interests are mutually exclusive, that should be obvious.

If I had a hiring manager say this to me in an interview, I would not want to work for that manager. Random interests outside of work have zero influence on a candidate's ability to perform a job well. I enjoy working with coworkers who live fulfilling lives outside their 9-5, but outside of illegal activity, I wouldn't let their outside life influence my decision to hire them. If they find value in playing video games every hour outside work, that's fine. If they want to obtain random certs and skills, that's fine too.

I'm also in the process of getting my private pilot's license. Do you expect me to start flying in the middle of the day instead of working? If anything, being able to focus on a target goal that can take 6+ months to accomplish indicate focus and drive more than a lack of it.

The SCUBA diving example mentioned is an interesting life experience for someone to have, and doesn't deserve someone gatekeeping whether or not the individual is "serious" about their hobbies or experiences.

Well, I was playing devil's advocate to some extent there, I am 'guilty' of lots of seemingly random interests too (in several cases with certifications that took years to acquire), and even multiple academic degrees in 'hard' subjects. It's just that I don't necessarily put all of it on my CV (the hobbies, the degrees I feel I have to list, even though less would probably be more there too), especially if it's been a while since I last practiced them.

The scuba example was on purpose, because if you list credentials for things that you aren't actually proficient in, it shows something else about your attitude towards being honest about your skills (which can be crucial in technical roles). At one of my old employers, my later boss warned me that the last interview round with a very senior guy was mostly a formality, as long as I'd been honest on my CV. He liked to grill people a bit about their inner workings and their journey, and he'd famously once rejected the team's top choice because the guy had claimed to be fluent in a particular (natural) language on his CV, and then turned out to be anything but (that language was of course in no way needed for the job). In situations like that you feel vindicated if you've had a think about whether old credentials that you acquired a long time ago realistically still belong on your CV. Skills that you don't practice can be lost, regardless of what some paper says.

But if you are serious about them, then by all means put your hobbies on your CV. It can lead to great conversations sometimes, and it's also a form of honesty. And yeah, sometimes people will read things into it that are beyond your control (if you're a pilot, those will mostly be positive, if you do MMA, they may be more mixed, but I'd argue you should mention it regardless).

I'm glad this conversation played out productively and respectfully - another reason why I enjoy this site.

For what it's worth, I initially misunderstood your statement that "being focused and having lots of random interests are mutually exclusive" in the same way that the other commenter did, as implying that someone with a life outside of work cannot be a good employee. I see now that you were stressing the "_lots of random_" part of the statement (that is - if you have 20 different "passions" in a month, you cannot truly be said to be focused on any of them) - in this case, I agree!

> a very senior guy [...] famously once rejected the team's top choice because the guy had claimed to be fluent in a particular (natural) language on his CV, and then turned out to be anything but...

Wow - an extreme, but defensible, position! Integrity is important.

> if you do MMA, they may be more mixed

Pun intentional? ;)

A thought: A subtitle "long ago: ..." in smaller text

I cannot reply for that person, but to me a certification would mean that you know a given subject, so I could ask more in-depth questions and expect better answers than the average candidate. Sometimes this is the case (and if so then getting a certification is not harmful in my opinion), but often it just gives you a very high level, very passing understanding of the subject so candidates just end up being judged against a higher bar without the tools/skills to match it.

I agree with you and would be excited to see a resume like what some of these cert masters could present.

However, I understand that some people shut down when they see a lot of extraneous detail. Think of it like reading a news article. You'd get confused if you started reading "Ferry sinks, injuring 11" and halfway through it starts talking about cricket, then a fire, then congress, then...

Right, that's fair. If I saw a resumé that included, say, references to SCUBA diving and motorcycling, I'd see them as indications of a Real Actual Human behind the professional façade, with whom I could probably have an interesting conversation. If the list of extracurricular interests sprawled over half a page, I'd get fatigued.

If your CV looks like that, you're better off omitting 80% of that stuff entirely, and putting another 15% in the 'interests' section.

Why do you think cert collecting is fun?

I can see this being the case just for the fact that certs are usually paired a structured curriculum for learning a new skill. This takes a huge mental burden off and decreases time wasted in deadend exploration.

Honestly, I enjoy learning but I don't like having nothing to show for it. Unstructured learning like going to a library and picking out a random book drives me nuts, I quickly feel overwhelmed. A cert at least gives me some goal to shoot for -- where I can prove some basic competency in the subject by virtue of having the cert.

I need something to "show" for my efforts. Project-based learning can work for me as well, but it takes extra work to figure it out for a given skill. I'm learning photography and I have a goal of doing 1 portrait session per week for a few months. That kind of thing helps me feel like I'm making measurable progress.

> Why do you think cert collecting is fun?

My work requires me to take certifications and keep them renewed.

What I appreciate from certifications is actually taking a well-made test. (Instead of a carelessly made normal school or university test.)

For well made certification tests, the question writing process is interesting and a whole specialization by itself. Each question is beta tested. And metrics are collected as to how a question is correlated or predicts that someone will pass the test. Tests should avoid mixing question pairs that hint the answer of another question. And writing multiple choice answers in which the answer is not possible to guess. Also writing questions so they are well written and easily understood. So that the question measures knowing or not knowing the topic, rather than affecting the test taker due to unclear wording.

It's probably fun for OP in the same way leveling up a character in an RPG is.

I'd imagine financial certs would be the most useful (CFA in particular).

I’m similar to you - have a ton of certifications and I’m an insanely good test taker.

Several years ago I signed up for the Level 1 CFA exam in late August to take it on December 5th. So I had a little over 3 months to study for it.

My first inclination that I made a horrible mistake was when one of my portfolio manager coworkers said to me, “I got my bachelor’s in finance, got my master’s in economics, studied for that test for 6 months, failed it and gave up. It’s just too hard.”

350 hours of studying later, I was the only one from my company that passed Level 1 that year. 33% pass rate.

I’m in software engineering. It has provided no discernible career benefit even though I work at an investment bank.

I’m happy that I proved I could do it but the CFA program is not a certification to collect on a whim. It’s literally a 3+ year commitment and you will come close to killing yourself studying.

Thanks for the feedback, yeah that matches what I thought about the exam. I don’t think it’s likely I’ll pass but I’ll give it a go.

Good call on PPL. It's a lot of fun and opens up alot more cert opportunities (mountain rating, float planes, IFR, multi engine, CPL, etc) so you will be in heaven.

I warmly recommend the UML certifications. They test whether you know UML syntax rules by heart, not whether you can model software decently. It's absolutely useless, great fun!

Oh no.... I think we have very different definitions of fun. I haven't touched UML since uni and I'm glad to keep it that way.

How do you keep up with CPE requirements across all of the carts? Just the CPA cert alone requires a minimum of 40 hours per year.

Webinars usually get CPEs in most prof orgs, so it's easy to just put on a webinar during lunch.

Also once or twice a year you can attend a conference and rack up all your CPEs.

Many times CPE can count toward multiple certificates. For example the same activity that give hours for PMP also count toward CSM.

Nutrition Certificate program is interesting and personally useful: https://ecornell.cornell.edu/certificates/nutrition/plant-ba...

driver's license?

What's it take to be a locksmith?

In some states, carrying lockpicks is presumptive guilt unless you're a locksmith, but I never figured out whether that's a certification or just a business license or what.

A JD and a YouTube channel.

Also very interested in this one. I do some casual locksport but would love to be able to legitimately carry tools and help out friends and colleagues.

> certified parliamentarian

Is the specific parliament you want to work in?

I do the role of Secretary for various policy groups, so knowing Roberts Rules and being efficient and knowing correct procedures is helpful for me.

Where did you learn the material for your PMP cert? There are so, so many courses out there advertising PM training; not sure how to filter.

Just curious, how are you going to get CPA? Don't you need work experience as well as exams for that?

Yeah a CPA isn’t just something you can go out and get like a Microsoft cert.

Actually you can, you just need to experience to get the charter. You can go pass the exam so long as you have the educational background.

Here are the requirements: https://www.calcpa.org/cpa-career-center/cpa-requirements

The test is administered by aicpa, but this is a helpful starting point.

Yes to get the charter, you must have work experience. To take the exam, you do not.


Look at some CEFR ones next!

Sadly I simply am not capable of learning languages.

I've tried, really hard. I did 4 years of french, 2 years of spanish, 4 semesters of Arabic, 2 semesters of german, 1 Berlitz tutor session for 3 months in Russian and 3 months of tutoring in Farsi. Most of my grades were AWFUL and I barely qualified for anything. I really tried, but I just don't have the medium/long term memory for language. It also doesn't help that I live in the US.

FWIW, I felt the same way. Studied French for years, through middle school, high school and college, and never gained any real degree of fluency. Then I moved to Japan and took language classes for 4 hours a day for a year. It worked.

There were people who still raced around me -- I'm not gifted at languages, by any means -- but for the first time in my life I'm actually modestly capable in a second language. I continue to study now, and it's still accumulating, however slowly.

After this experience, I believe that most people can learn a second language, but they don't because the barriers to entry are insanely high. If you really want to learn a language to a conversational level of fluency, you either have to be truly gifted (5% of people) have to want it so much that you'll immerse yourself in it 24/7 (the rest of us).

> I did 4 years of french, 2 years of spanish, 4 semesters of Arabic, 2 semesters of german, 1 Berlitz tutor session for 3 months in Russian and 3 months of tutoring in Farsi

It took me about 3 months of daily immersion in Japanese life (plus the 4 hours of daily school, of course) just to get to a point where my ears could hear words reliably. If you translate this to coursework...it's got to be 1+ years of college-level study.

I'm in a similar boat. I absorbed German really easily, but when I moved on to picking up another language, my brain constantly switched between the two, even during an intensive study course that was basically several hours a day exclusively in one. I tried beating my brain into the right shape, but no amount of effort made me anything but embarrassing in anything other than my native tongue.

just out of interest, what do you do with the offensive security knowledge?

I used to be a pentester, so it was pretty applicable...

Pentesting really requires "full stack" systems knowledge, from networking, to OS, to API analysis, malware analysis, binary reverse engineering. OSCP is an applied cert, so it really forces you to be able to leverage knowledge in a practical way.

However my favorite benefit of offsec is really being able to see things from an attacker's perspective. This has been super valuable in many situations and I've found I'm many times the only person in the room with an awareness of an adversarial mindset.

I'm thinking about getting into pen-testing and eventually getting an OSCP. Would you mind offering a few words about why you left the pen-testing field? Also, do you have a CEH or do you recommend bypassing it in favor of the OSCP?

CEH is literally useless, I used to have it because I did DoD. That’s the only reason to do it.

I got out of pentesting because no one follows your recommendations. I could give 40 recommendations after doing a pentest, come back a year later and none of them would have been implemented.

People don’t care about security—-it’s why everything is broken and it’s getting worse.

I moved into Distributed Ledger Technology because I think it could help solve security issues people face daily in a way where they cannot mess up. That’s the idea anyway.

It does make risk analysis more interesting. It surprises me how people will think only of the positive or accidental case, leaving adversarial ones off the table (and risk mitigation)

no teaching certificates?

I've thought about it, but teaching is such a long commitment. I almost signed up to be a teacher at my local community college in CS, but I just don't want to commit my schedule to something like that.

Maybe someday.

motorcycle license?

If you had a four year degree you used to be able to sit for the Realestate Broker's Exam. That ended a few years ago with yearly lobbing by brokers.

Now the easiest white collar profession (8 courses that are easy) require we work for a broker for years. Usually a broker who got their licence without becoming a salesperson first.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill because he wanted competition.

Gov. Brown eventually signed it.

Commercial driver and pilot could maybe be better described as licenses. Those have recurring medical requirements, and CDL holders can be picked for drug testing at any time. Strangely most of the flight docs are ignoring the FAA disqualification item of taking a medicine within two years of it being released. At this point, most commercial and military pilots should be grounded for taking the new virus shots. The two year requirement is reasonable to protect flying public from things not found in rushed medical studies, like heart attacks.

MSHA part 48, or others, is useful to be allowed to be unattended on a mine site. The scope and size of some mines, and the operations and equipment, are something to experience. Of course, the mine owner must want you to be there.

> At this point, most commercial and military pilots should be grounded for taking the new virus shots.

FAA explicitly allows after 48hr observation, see https://www.faa.gov/coronavirus/guidance_resources#useOfVacc...

I hadn't seen that. That explicitly grounds the pilot for 48 hours after procedure. It does not appear to change the requirements for the yearly flight Dr. recertification regarding new medicines.

This will not apply to all companies, but for our hiring decisions certs have an adverse effect. If someone puts many certifications on their resume my expectations are lower and I likely won't consider them for interviews. It's a negative signal in my experience. Your time is better spent working on side projects, contributing to open source, writing a blog, etc. I.e. do real-world stuff instead of wasting time on artificial tests that require memorization and exist largely as a revenue stream for certification providers.

Be careful about the bias in single-metric gatekeeping strategies like this. Contributing to open source projects, having side projects, et al are pursuits of leisure. Certificates are possibly the only foot in the door for folks working multiple jobs with kids, etc. and the government often pays the tuition for low income folks. Once you’ve got them, even if you’re more established, it would be crazy to leave them off of your resume, right?

Not only could you be bypassing people passionate enough to work their way into the field through pretty adverse circumstances, you could be inadvertently reducing the diversity of your workforce in doing so. I know it’s tough to have to whittle down a list of candidates on paper, but the closer you are to judging a person’s path rather than their capability, the more likely you’ll be to favor people who mirror your cultural identity and experiences. So if someone looks like they’ve got the requisite skills. It certainly doesn’t mean everybody with a pile of certs is worth considering, but it’s probably not a good immediate disqualifier.

I agree with you in principle, but it's difficult to draw the line when the hiring process needs to be practical. We can't interview everyone and perfect recall isn't necessary. My experience from dozens of interviews has been that many certifications are a rather strong negative signal, at least for our standard software/data engineering roles. I'm sure there are many exceptions to this, but I'll happily miss out on 1-2 good candidates if that means I can filter out 50 bad ones using the same signal.

Of course it's never a binary decision and the complete picture of the resume matters. For example, if someone got a bunch of certs 20 years ago when they started their career that doesn't have any negative impact. But more often, people try to use certs and MOOCs to pad their resume and hope use them to hide the fact that they lack real work experience.

I hear you and have been in your shoes. Hiring is hard, and the steps to hire people ethically are pretty nebulous, which makes it much harder. Especially when the outcome would be the same in many cases, it does seem awfully impractical.

But that's the problem with bias in general, though— It's always a matter of practicality. It's been some time since most discrimination deliberately stymied people with a background or makeup the dominant culture considered objectionable. These days it hides in the subconscious mechanisms governing the purportedly rational generalizations we rely on when lacking time and resources to properly investigate something.

I don't think it's anybody's fault— it's a bug in our brains and we can't control that. I do think we're ethically obligated to push back when practical requirements compel us to make those generalizations. If we expect police to do it when someone may or may not be pulling a gun out of their pocket, we should certainly expect ourselves to do it when we've got a queue of resumes to process.

I think it's an interesting point to make, and it's important to understand that this type of selection is a form of bias. But I think the comparison you are making here with law enforcement using bias towards people of color is not exactly right. There is a difference in signaling by choice (what to put on your resume) vs signaling by nature (skin color). I think we agree that there are some things we cannot change by nature, and a selection bias based on these properties is (in every case?) ethically unjust. I do not agree that it's ethically unjust to have a selection bias on things that are behavioral.

If someone is coming into an interview naked I'm going to reject that candidate. Am I being biased towards unclothed people if I do that? Should I continue the interview and try to find the candidate's fit for the position and disregard that they are choosing not to wear clothes? I think it's no different for a candidate that chooses to list certain things on their resume. Nobody is forced to list all of their certificates on their resume. It is a choice the candidate makes, and what else do I have to judge a candidates fitness than the choices they make in how they represent themselves and their skills?

You can certainly make an argument that listing many certificates is a shallow signal and you should invest more time into getting to know a candidate better before you choose to reject. If someone chooses to use this signal you can make an argument that they will possibly miss a few good candidates. But I don't think you can make an argument that it's ethically unjust to do so.

The whole point is that disadvantaged folks are more likely to use certificates to get a foot in the door and economic hardship in the US is not evenly represented among skin colors— not even close. Folks who don’t natively have the right accent, word usage, cultural reference points and demeanor to seem “credible” and be a “good fit” for internships or jr positions don’t have a lot of options to obtain that credibility. Things like certificates and associates degrees from for-profit colleges might be their only feasible option regardless of how smart or talented they are. Dismissing that entire group out of hand because it saves time is ignoring the economic and cultural realities of who you’re dismissing by doing so. You can separate the cultural implications of nearly any subconscious bias if your analysis is shallow enough.

This seems circuitous. You pre-suppose that the 50 ones you reject are "bad" because of this signal, then support the use of this signal because you rejected them. And then go further to assume the ratio of good:bad of people with this signal is 1-2:50.

I mean, you do you, but it seems that if you were actually interested in the truth you'd have a blind-interview strategy where you interview and judge based solely on the actual interview not knowing about their certificate status a priori.

Note: I don't have a lot of certs (I don't even know that the couple I do have are even up to date, nor on my resume), but this kind of response I see quite often and it feels quite smug.

I find the process of going through the effort to get a cert quite valuable, as it exposes me to aspects of <subject> that I probably would have not hit just "spending my free time on work-type projects", which is another red flag for me as an interviewee. I've been a dev my whole career spanning 30+ years, so I get the desire for "fire" and "passion" for the craft, but as soon as someone asks about what I do OUTSIDE of work that could be brought to bear for work stuff, I'm out. I can see what kind of company they are representing.

She wrote:

> My experience from dozens of interviews

That's not pre-supposing, instead, sounds to me like learning from one's job?

> blind-interview strategy

I liked that -- how does one make it scale though?

All overgeneralizations start out as conclusions based on observation. Having certificates could not possibly decrease someone’s ability to do a job. Assuming that everybody with certificates is a certain type of person and those types of people make bad workers is clearly not based on rational analysis. Might it generally indicate a some kinds of shortcomings? Maybe. If that merely leads one to investigate, that’s one thing. If that turns into a check in the con column for that candidate, that’s the very definition of bias.

Consider a certificate that, let's say, is pretty useless, just meant learning some software terms by heart for a short while and then forgetting.

If a candidate includes it on his/her CV, this can give the impression that s/he might not have realized that it's useless. Which can make a slightly bad impression

I suppose it depends a bit randomly on who happens to interpret the CV

You can't just bolt on other theoretical negative factors to change the usefulness of the analysis itself. This conversation is not about bad or irrelevant certificates— it's about certificates in general.

The candidate included them on their resume for you to evaluate, so evaluate them. Nobody's arguing that candidates with only free LinkedIn certs and nothing else should be given equal consideration to those with formal education.

The question is whether or not people with any certificates can ethically be dismissed out-of-hand because they list certificates on their resume. The answer is still no.

I wasn't writing about me -- I personally I wouldn't dismiss anyone because of certs, in fact I don't care that much about people's resumes at all.

However if I was looking for a job, I'd be a bit careful with including what to me seemed like "unimportant" certs, for the reason I mentioned

> The question is whether or not people with any certificates can ethically be dismissed

To me, the question was rather if there's in practice a risk that it happens, (un)ethical or not

> Once you’ve got them, even if you’re more established, it would be crazy to leave them off of your resume, right?

Not necccesarily. Depending on the cert and field it may make sense to.

The goal of getting the cert should be to learn skills. If you've done that, the piece of paper doesn't matter.

> Not only could you be bypassing people passionate enough to work their way into the field through pretty adverse circumstances, you could be inadvertently reducing the diversity of your workforce in doing so

The people with all the certs still got interviewed where i worked last, it was just a consistent pattern that they bombed the interview, usually very badly on very basic questions.

If you've got a few certs and two jobs under your belt that you got because of those certs, how would anyone imagine that those certs would prevent them from getting jobs? For people with traditional industry on-ramping, it might seem intuitive that someone would want to hide these certs from people for their lack of prestige. To others, hiding your only officially-recognized qualifications seems absolutely ridiculous.

Are you sure those were verified? It used to shock me that people who put on cv “5 years” of programming experience in language X could not write switch statement in it, not anymore. Certifications like CKA can be verified online, cvs should include verification link; CKA/CKAD expires after 3 years, CKS after 2 years so it’s physically impossible to have too many of certificates like this.

I think how many certs and how up-center in your cv you put them matters.

E.g. if I'm hiring for a junior dev and get some self-taught person having done a couple of relevant online courses and so far managed to get a tech support role looking to become a programmer I'm often interested in talking to them.

On the other hand, I have seen cv's from senior enterprise/government engineers, 10 pages long, plastered all over with certs, titles, abbreviations, version numbers, iso standards, etc. and I have absolutely no idea what they actually did or achieved in their prior jobs even when googling a dozen terms. They might be great in the context they are working in, but they are from experience not a great fit for the context I'm hiring for.

The problem you describe is a resume design problem rather than a cert problem. Would you know what they could do if they merely left the certs off of the resume? I’d guess not.

It sounds like you were looking at a federal resume which are differently structured and much, much longer than private sector resumes. Candidates appreciate feedback letting them know: “Thanks for applying but I can’t suss out what you can actually do based on what you sent. Feel free to reapply with a more concise, descriptive resume.”

If they’ve worked in the federal government that long, they might just not realize how inappropriate their resume is for private sector jobs even if they’re qualified. If they can’t course correct and describe their skills in common business language, that’s a good enough indicator of their ability to adapt to the position, I’d say.

> Once you’ve got them, even if you’re more established, it would be crazy to leave them off of your resume, right?

Recruiters and hiring managers go through so many resumes, the last thing you want is to have someone looking for a programmer to read about your basket weaving skills.

My strategy has always been to tailor the bulk of the resume to the job I'm applying for. Bring everything else up during the interview if there's natural time to do so, because that's where they want to see who you are.

We're talking about relevant certs, here.

> Contributing to open source projects, having side projects, et al are pursuits of leisure.

This is an old anti-pattern: tests that sound like they're about competence, but they're actually about "culture fit."

Example: Speaking at conferences. This sounds like social proof you know something about the industry, and have communication skills to boot. In many cases it actually means you are good at networking, have leisure time available to attend conferences, and get invited back to speak at more conferences because you're likeable and contribute to the conference's social scene.

In my own case, I have spoken and even keynoted multiple conferences. But I don't think speaking at conferences means much when hiring, unless I'm hiring an evangelist or community manager. If I'm hiring a programmer, I want to know whether they can program, nit whether they can talk about programming.

Anyways, I support your thesis that some (or even many) single-metric gatekeeping strategies that don't measure the actual skill required by the job are bad, and I suggest that many of them test for culture, not competence.

Yes. I do think it’s important to point out that folks using these “in my experience, people like this tend to be bad” type of hiring metrics probably aren’t deliberately discriminating and often change their approach after realizing it’s problematic. Obviously grown adults are accountable for their own actions, but not training, supporting, or monitoring folks making hiring decisions is more of an institutional failure than a personal failure.

Completley agree with you. My reply was way too harsh/emotional. There are many companies that offer skill based pre-interview tests, tossing out resumes based on qualifications is not just silly but a liability and a sign of incompetence. The worst hiring managers are reductionists that act on instincts and prejudice.

> Once you’ve got them, even if you’re more established, it would be crazy to leave them off of your resume, right?

For sure include them if they are relevant to the role or show real commitment to a topic. If you see a string of disperate certs though it's easy to assume the applicant doesn't know what they want to do.

Not saying I would discount someone on this alone but it would raise questions for the interview if they were otherwise qualified.

And that's totally fine. We all have our own heuristics for determining what we like in a candidate, but we need to be very, very critical of those measures and make sure they aren't masking other less justifiable gut instinct decisions. Bias is generally subconscious— If it really was as cut-and-dried as we like to think, then it wouldn't be a gut feeling metric at all— we'd be able to back up our reasoning with hard facts. As rational as they might seem, 'gut feeling' criteria almost universally favor people we're comfortable with rather than the most qualified candidate. That's a real problem for folks who aren't part of the dominant culture of the industry: Millenial to Gen-X straight white and asian guys.

If a qualified candidate only having certificate credentials merely prompts further investigation, then great. However, it's quite often the tipping point between round-filing a good candidate and calling another one in for an interview. While it might seem innocuous on a micro level, on a macro level this affects big swaths of the population.

In the 2005 Study Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal (https://www.nber.org/system/files/working_papers/w9873/w9873...), they responded to 1300 job ads with 5000 equally-weighted resumes with randomly assigned names which were either stereotypically white, like Emily Walsh or Greg Baker, or stereotypically black, like Lakisha Washington or Jamal Jones. Resumes with white sounding names were 50% more likely to receive a callback. Fifty percent! The likelihood of 1300 randomly chosen job ads being run by the KKK is pretty low. Most, if not all of them were probably letting "gut instinct" criteria swing their judgement.

If you had a video game where the sole task was getting a job, one race having a built-in buff where the callback was 50% greater without being balanced somewhere else would be insanely unfair. Not only is it not balanced, but we're literally only talking about these folks names— never mind their appearance, manner of speaking, cultural references, etc.

We all like to think of ourselves as good people but that's not enough to stop this. We need to deliberately interrogate our MO, here.

I wouldn't dismiss certs that fast as from my experience hiring for technical roles, it's a wash. I've had people with more certs than braincells, and people with certs that I loved and wanted on my team immediately.

It at least gave me something to talk about more directly because I can have some expectation on tech they've worked with.

I personally don't chase certs for myself because I don't see the point, but I find them as fairly okay talking points on a CV. And it's hard to argue any interview unfairness since the cert should imply certain levels of familiarity with a technology.

Edit: I do need to add that the cert concern was a real thing in our company but after some analysis, we sadly found some biases from the interviewers as they only considered certs for certain candidates to be a negative signal. I put a stop to that fast reminding people of candidates from more western countries with gobs of certs, and they legit didn't know their ass from their head, much less how to do anything besides press the button the manual said to press.

To this point, occasionally you'll come across candidates who have obtained certs in part because that is the way they were trained to learn in their specific personal & cultural context - but the reason why they chose to learn so much in the first place? It might be indicative of a true, passionate, focus-seeking curiosity that would make them a fantastic team member. And perhaps they hadn't had the opportunity to work in a place that treats learning and growth as a holistic part of the job. These people can become culture carriers in a tremendously positive way.

It's part of the reason I try to make "cover paragraphs" (not necessarily full cover letters) an important part of every application - it's important to give people the opportunity to let their passion shine through at the earliest parts of a process.

I get what you're saying and I think this is true for a lot of people, but hear me out.

I actually rarely read too deeply into the CV except as a source for some talking points. I have a phenomenal recruitment team so I rarely need to "guess" on a candidate from a CV (truly, they are exceptional and they really get what my team is looking for and our candidates love them also cause the recruiters took a lot of time to learn enough to talk competently about our tech scope) If my recruiters pass me a candidate, the candidate is at least good enough to bullshit fairly competently.

We structure our interviews to be very conversational -- the same points are always hit and we have a loose grading structure, but mostly the goal is to get the candidates to talk about problems and explain their thoughts really well. I do feel bad, because I can tell some put a ton of effort into their CV, but I rarely pay that much attention to it besides ctrl+f for some subjects I want to talk about or looking for a few keywords outside of our core competencies just to see how they talk about these edge cases.

Passion is good, but for me, passion shines through during the interview and the conversation and how they love to talk about what they work on. Even with the most nervous candidates, we've taken a lot of time to practice just being approachable and interested, which helps even the shyest candidates really open up. I know I had one candidate pretty recently where they were quite shy (and also interviewing in a second language, not their primary so lots of stress there). It took a little bit, but by the end of the interview, they were blushing red with pride and smiling uncontrollably with how proud of themselves they were for answering really tough questions and scenarios we had for them. (and they knocked it out of the park for a DevOps position, I don't think I've been so happy with a candidate in awhile)

I wish we got this for every candidate; their passion gets tapped and just suddenly I see someone gushing about their favorite topic.

> Your time is better spent working on side projects, contributing to open source, writing a blog, etc. I.e. do real-world stuff

Just FYI that at some companies, collecting certificates is indeed real world stuff. Some companies use it for marketing (“we have the most certifications in the industry”) and some need to to satisfy vendor partner requirements (“AWS Premier Partners are required to have X number of certificates”). It doesn’t seem fair to penalize a candidate just because they did what their company asked for.

Sure, but my question would be, are you, as the resume writer, more proud of the cert you got via your work or of the work you did at work? I've done cert stuff before as part of my job, but it never rose to the level of being relevant to put on my resume over other things I did.

My rule is always to only put something on my resume if I could talk for 2-3 minutes about it in a way that makes me look good/useful. Most of my certs, the only real thing I could say is "I spent 10-30 hours watching videos and then took a test well." I wouldn't really want to work for a company that valued those skills vs. me explaining how I applied the things I learned from the cert.

I have also seen this. A large number of certs on a resume (more than 4) is the most consistent negative signal i have seen.

I assume part of the reason is that certs are expensive and not well respected, so the only reason you would get them is if you had no other options.

Is this recent? I held every cert under the sun in the 2000s and companies GOBBLED ME UP. In the early 2010s I could walk into companies by simply having a VCP cert. I'm sure if I held a K8s or some hashicorp cert, or AWS or Azure certs I would be pulled into any org hiring today. And I put all of my certs on my resume (that I can fit with most recent first).

I should also clarify, I only put certs that matter (why put an Azure cert on a resume submission to an AWS shop) and certs that are recent (I have 20 years on my resume, why would i put my CCNA on there). I think a large number of irrelevant certs would be a negative signal. I think a large number of relevant certs AND job history to back them up would be a super strong signal.

I remember many years ago, Google internally knew that one of the only signals obtainable from CVs was the negative signal from number of certs. I don't think this knowledge was actually used for anything, it was just a correlation, but yeah it's sort of an open secret in the business that the sort of people who get lots of certifications do very badly when asked to demonstrate actual technical skills.

It's a response to large number of people who know very little and want to compensate with memorizing stuff and passing certificates without deeper understanding of what they're doing.

It's kind of a stupid response, especially considering that the same people would most likely view 10+ certs on your CV as a positive if your name is western-sounding...

Idk, i haven't been in the industry long enough to compare. Also, i work in security (in north america and not gov), maybe other areas are more pro-cert.

I also disagree with your first comment. Large amounts of difficult certs have never been a negative signal and I’ve been doing this for like 20 years. Especially in cyber security where a wide breadth of various knowledge is needed, certs can really help show who has the ”full-stack” so to speak.

That being said, 20+ CompTIA cents isn’t going to move the needle for me.

I say all that to say “it depends on the cert”

Actually cyber security is one area where a lot of certs are a strong negative signal. They basically broadcast course-taking and cert-chasing over real world experience. If you have an OSCP cert I will treat that as a potentially good signal, but if your CV includes CISSP I will walk in to an interview with low expectations and if it has CEH or similar wastes of time the recruiting lead would have known to filter the CV out so that I do not even see it. This if for FAANG environments though, so maybe if you are aiming for a corporate cube farm in a smaller market other certs will be useful. Just not with me.

OSCP vs CISSP is a ridiculous line to draw, they cover very different job types.

I don’t know what jobs you’re hiring for, if any, I simply don’t see how more data is a negative signal.

I think that’s silly.

I disagree with the entirety of your reply, except for the CEH zinger ;)

As a Red Team manager with both the OSCP and CISSP, in my opinion neither is worthless but they are oversold and they aren't really comparable.

The CISSP is a risk management cert that's sometimes oversold as an infosec cert. It's been quite useful to me in dealing with the (Fortune 1000 mostly) bureaucracies that take Red Team and pen test findings and turn them into remediations or risk acceptances.

The OSCP is a technical cert that's oversold in a different way: because the test is fairly difficult, lots of people assume it's an advanced cert. It's a beginner cert (and Offensive Security has several more you can take after it). What it does prove is that you probably have the right mindset to be a penetration tester (which is not necessarily the same mindset you need for Red Teaming, i.e., unannounced adversarial simulation).

tl;dr: I don't think any cert is bad as long as everybody understands what it's for. But I'm one of those people who collects them (at employer expense) as a way to structure my learning, and then never renews them.


SANS certs are great

I think that's fair. I more saw it as the 20+ comptia certs.

I'm enough of a domain expert in certain niches that I've participated in creating certification exams. The reason it can develop into a negative signal: the question banks are rapidly exhausted by the exam dump industry, and for even some esoteric exams 90%+ of the question bank with exactly correct answers are generated within a year of the exam's introduction.

With the popular exams, it is mind-numbingly fast. Think days to weeks. Crowdsourcing / MTurking the question banks is depressingly effective if you sweated over nearly a thousand question bank items for a few months with a few other expensive experts.

Labs in the exams are a way to blunt this, but I think the exam dump industry has probably come up with a way to defeat labs as well by now, because the labs run a fixed set of scenarios with variations in parameters but not the general gist. It's better, but still hackable.

What I've come up with requires discipline by a team documenting the issues they've fixed in the past, but it is so far 100% foolproof. Pick a random relatively self-contained issue your team fixed in the past; this is the most critical step governing the quality of this technique's results. Reproduce the issue in a scratch environment.

Sit down the candidate in front of a workstation set up to their preferences you gathered in advance, with all the tooling they prefer, simplifying your superfluous environment specifics where possible (like logging them into various accounts ahead of time). Set their expectations ahead of time that they will be team / pair troubleshooting for half an hour, that you aren't evaluating whether they find the root cause or not, you're evaluating how well they work with others troubleshooting an issue in some system/language/etc. they claim they are a domain expert in. Dive in.

Without fail, the ones who exam dumped their way to a certification will thrash about. Hard. Most common is they will not know where to even start, deer-in-the-headlights. Even telling the candidate straight out where to start, by using your 20/20 hindsight and artificially picking a starting point 1-2 steps away from the root cause still does not unlock them; jumping to a known good starting point is useful for the experienced candidates who freeze under interview pressure, as they usually unfreeze when given such a big head start from your IRL issue that you ran into for the first time.

You can often get a good gauge of how much and how deeply the candidate worked with the stack they claim competency in by how they navigate around, ask questions, probe for error messages, etc.

I'm interested in an informed discussion of a comparison of the merits of the differing tech certs, not so much talking about scuba, finance, or truck driving.

How does the quality and value of, say, CompTIA, Cisco, AWS, OSCP, K8s, Linux+ and other certs compare with each other?

> do real-world stuff instead of wasting time on artificial tests that require memorization

Interesting, since the majority of tech interviews (from what I’ve gathered) rely on artificial tests that require memorization.

I’m not disagreeing, I also think real world experience is infinitely more valuable. But it seems like certs could actually be an indicator that a candidate would perform quite well in LC style interviews.

It's a bit glib to say that even the most leetcode interviews "require memorization". It's certainly possible to do most of them from "memorized" first principles of how various bits of CS components work instead of brute-force memorizing, and in general even when I do code problems on interviews, I mostly try to use them to either demonstrate that or determine that the candidate actually understands WHY you would do things that way.

Certs on the other hand are often just pure memorization. There's not really any way to "infer" which AWS service name matches to which service function. You either know the name of the API call or you don't. It doesn't provide much signal that you actually know how to apply that information to anything practical.

Even at their worst, most crappy whiteboard code interviews are still literally testing if you can literally write functional code, which is closer to what you do on the job than memorizing the Cisco books.

I don't see how writing a blog post is superior to a CCNA/CCNP lab test but okay (ACTUALLY NO, IT'S NOT OKAY).

>Your time is better spent working on side projects

This seems like a shaky assumption. Keep in mind that many companies, like mine, sponsor or even mandate the certification process. Meaning the justification, time, and costs didn't come from the candidate you're dismissing.

as someone in Devops/SRE I hold the same thinking as you. Whenever I see an interview come in loaded with certs, I automatically think they just know how to take tests and study for them.

It's almost 100% that they fail the interview because they don't know how to put the learning into real world solutions.

I find this take funny.

My past company had a huge pile of credits for certs because they valued them and I figured “I’ve been working with AWS; why not?” I didn’t study or prepare at all and went in using only the hands-on knowledge I picked up over my career.

I came out with all the associate certs, the AWS solutions architect pro, and their network specialty.

As a hiring manager I find certs to be a neutral indicator: you at least have to know the material to get them, but plenty of people learn the material hands-on, not from books.

Also, sometimes companies will force employees to get certified for many reasons. My own company was recently looking to renew their Gold Partnership with Microsoft and so they were looking for victims to get Microsoft certified, because, apparently, that's the requirement for partnership.

As for why companies need such partnership: it speaks well to managerial types, therefore helps win contracts.

Perhaps they get enough interviews where the cert is accepted that it isn't worth their time to review these technologies ahead of interviews.

This is also my experience. However, I would say something like Amazon's certifications may be useful if your company has gone all-in on AWS. Amazon (and GCP and Azure) have such a huge variety of offerings, and it's something that Amazon is asserting this person is at least familiar with what these things are and how they fit together, and the trade-offs. On-the-job study is, in general, not going to be good enough to get a comprehensive understanding like that, and a cert course makes a lot of sense.

I suppose if there was a reasonably trusted organization that could give the same cert for "front-end javascript", that would be good too, since there would be great value in surveying at least the major features of the current js landscape. (Probably not practical given the breadth and depth and dynamism of the space, plus the ambiguity of selection. And also, not sure what org would or could do this!)

then you should specify this in your job requirements so that people can remove them from their resume when applying.

the candidate should not be penalised for trying to tick boxes that other people have set up.

I got rejected from positions because I had a masters in computer science instead of an ECDL certificate. So I swallowed my pride and went and got one. Now, I'd agree with you that as an actual computer scientist, mentioning ECDL on my resume is embarrasing. But there you go, some HR departments have weird automated checklists, so I leave it in. I'd hate to then apply to someone like you who'd reject me because I had the nerve to list my ECDL certificate on my resume. It's a lose lose situation for everyone involved.

That's funny, because I've always felt the opposite when evaluating candidates. If a candidate comes in saying certs are "trash" and "pointless" it usually looks less favorable. It signals an unwilling to learn and/or strive for continuous improvement. Certs are not the end all/be all but they help round our your knowledge and open your eyes to things you never knew.

As far as side-projects and open source contributions, this is a two way street. When I look at side projects, I look for how well you are utilizing best practices in your code. If it's a sloppy, poorly documented mess it doesn't look favorably for you. If you use your side projects as a marketing tool they should be well-polished.

> If a candidate comes in saying certs are "trash" and "pointless" it usually looks less favorable. It signals an unwilling to learn and/or strive for continuous improvement.

Or it signals that the candidate would rather learn hands-on than take useless multiple choice tests.


Your frustration is at least understandable, but personal attacks because you disagree with someone's hiring process are not appropriate, not helpful, and just going to make it even harder for you to get hired if anyone in a decision making role sees them.

I'll also echo what others have said, in that certs are commonly used by people trying to compensate for a lack of actual skills. That's not always true, but it is often enough that the correlation is bound to stick in people's minds even if they don't explicitly exclude applicants because of it. If you do have both a lot of certs _and_ solid skills and experience, then kudos -- but you may want to consider tailoring resumes and other materials to the jobs you apply to based on their applicability and expected reception. (That's generally good advice for anything, but particularly for things like this that could have both positive or negative connotations in different circumstances.)

You misunderstand, I have no problem getting hired but I know how hard it was to even get a call at first because of jerks like the person I was commenting to. I normally would agree that a personal attack isn't warranted but what they said is worthy of one. They are affecting people's lives based on bullshit correlations and instinct? And they work in tech? Really, my remarks should be taken as a response to their demonstrated character not their hiring process. Correlation is not causation, anyone near a technical field should know that. If 90% of applicants are shitty then of course most of them that get screen based on resume to begin with will have certs. It is one thing to say "I don't care about certs" this person is saying "I disqualify people if they have certs" does he do that with degrees too? Plenty of crappy degrees folks in any field! How shall I respond to a person punishing people for working hard and trying to demonstrate their knowledge? Deciding peoples livelihood based in his or her laziness to pick up a phone and ask questions?

On second thought maybe my words were too harsh for HN. I just don't know a polite way of responding to this. And on the other end of the spectrum there is another ass that says you are shy of one cert, 10 is not enough. We need a guy with this particular cert. or they use this shit to mask their prejudice and find a way to keep people out that aren't part of their country club.

It is categorically unfair and the intent is at best based on laziness. If people are getting certs then why is hiring manager not smart enough to ask challenging practical questions and measure their thinking process? And then they brag about it.

> You misunderstand

No, I think if your response to getting called out on making personal attacks is to double down on it, I understand quite well, but don't think we'll ever see eye to eye. I wish you the best.

Likewise. My harshness was inappropriate but a personal attack in response to a person punishing people unjustly and bragging about it is warranted. I was not responding to a technical argument but to the intent of the person. Like you called me out I was calling the original commenter out on their treatment of others.

I consider side projects to be absolutely meaningless predictors of anything. A cert is a poor substitute for experience but it's a signal of someone willing to learn and grow through diligence. Side projects are usually just arbitrary in value. In the very rare case that someone has a real blockbuster side project with a lot of users I'd be concerned about how much time they'd spend on it. Getting a PR approved on a mainstream project would be impressive though.

Nice try, manager ;)

We work on side projects because we __like__ it. Seeing side projects through the lense of "value" is naive in my opinion. Yes, obviously if the side project has actual users than that's a plus. But companies like seeing side projects because it __does__ show that the candidate really likes what they do for a living. Now whether the company is purposefully using that to expect people to work 60 hours a week is a different discussion. And while I'll probably ruffle some feathers by saying this, I'll say it; software is a sport. Very much like a sport, if you stop doing it then you'll get fat and lose your touch. People that work on side projects are constantly honing their craft and because of that they tend to be the best athletes.

If I owned a baseball team, I sure as hell want the best. And in my humble opinion, the best are usually __always__ working on getting better at the game. AKA working on side projects ;)

EDIT:Just want to clarify; it is WRONG of a company to expect people to work 60 hours a week. Just so we are in the same page. I am NOT condoning that.

Just to clarify myself also, I don't expect people to dedicate their personal hours to work. We have a standard work week of 35 hours at my company and we generally stick to that. I'm talking about people I have worked with that had successfully side projects that were earning them money and that they most definitely worked on during business hours and were basically just double-dipping.

Value doesn't need to be monetary. Just having fun is something valuable. I'm saying that 99% of the "side projects" I see are junior devs who think they can't apply for a job without a bunch of things on GitHub.

MCSE really helped me.

In the late 90s, 98 I think, I worked for an internet startup that didn’t end up being huge. We were on Novell and a bit if solaris and had just launched a product that used windows nt and server side activex.

I was a college dropout web dev/web master making $50k. They had a hard time hiring devs who knew nt and could design and automate server farms. I learned on the job and did an ok job running it. But they wouldn’t promote me because I was really young and didn’t have a degree.

I went to a Microsoft conference and would buy a study book each day and take the test there. I did 3 exams during the conference and took the other three when I got home and with all 6 certs got my Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (with a stamp of bill gates’ signature).

They gave me a raise to $60k (and the college grads went from 50-55). I then got $70k six months later and $80k six months after that as I was the “certified person.”

I always thought it was funny that I did the same job before and after the certs. The Networking cert was really useful and I still remember how to do subnets and dns and dhcp and stuff.

> I always thought it was funny that I did the same job before and after the certs.

It’s often more advantageous for the company to have people with certs (it was with MCSE and such in the 90s anyway) - more MCSE etc on staff meant it was possible for the company to attain higher partnership levels with Microsoft which often meant more lucrative contracts and so on.

So while you may have been doing the same job as before, just by having the getting the certs you added more value to the business.

This didn’t apply to my company as we were just a product company and didn’t have any relationships with Microsoft (or Novell or Sun) other than buying their licenses.

I later worked for consulting companies where these certs came in handy for the reason you describe.

As a hiring manager, I treat AWS certification (professional especially) as relatively a good heuristic. It does not replace hands-on experience of course, but it has good correlation with good hands-on ability.

Another one that will catch my eye is any Kubernetes certification.

Both are great additions to experience, the certification itself has much less value standalone, but it might be the edge that will help someone get that entry level job.

(These are common for DevOps engineers, but a SWE with the above will have an edge in my book)

Might the above be generalized into "The best use of certificates is to reduce uncertainty, for the hirer"?

I.e. A SWE with a SWE cert says nothing, because you'd expect them to know it. But a SWE with a DevOps cert says something, versus just claiming knowledge.

I remember someone back in the day - perhaps Microsoft - advertising their certs as “so THEY know that YOU know”.

My impression is that every cert seller markets as though the world believed "You dont know it, unless you're certified in it."

My impression is that the world actually believes "You can be certified in something without knowing it."

So at best, from an applicant / employee's perspective, certificates are a slightly stronger suggestion that you might know the thing you claim to know.

Which is a useless reinforcement for something for which you already have demonstrated experience via work history.

But might be useful for something for which you do not.

Maybe I'm just unlucky but I've come across far to many people who have certs but are utterly useless at their job.

Wow interesting. I got the security specialist one (work wanted me to and they agreed to pay for it). It was almost entirely memorizing what amazon product name corresponds to what generic name. And a bit about ACLs. I was left feeling it had basically nothing to do with my job or relavent skills.

I have a couple of AWS certs. They really helped me when I went to the AWS conference and got some great swag

I got the _best_ multi-adapter charger at AWS Summit London thanks to my cert.

Yes! That was the best bit of swag in the whole place.

As a hiring manager, what is your course of action if someone doesn't have any of these? Do you reject a candidate due to a lack of certification?

Not at all, I would never reject someone for lack of any formal paper (degree, certificate), but if I have more resumes than time to phone screen them all, an AWS / Kubernetes certification is definitely a tie breaker for otherwise two similar candidates.

This doesn't answer the question by OP at all. You just listed two recent trendy certs.

I'm, going to echo a bit of whats in the comments to robcohen's post but the single most productive cert I hold is my pilots license. I do not fly for a living, Im a software engineer (mostly). I hold other certs, some technical, others non technical both work related and non work related by a sizable margin my PPL is the the most productive:

Back story: when I started working for my self my first client was a pilot, he encouraged me to get my PPL or at least do a demo flight. I did an intro flight and was instantly hooked. 3 years later I had a PPL, Instrument Rating, High Performance and Complex checkouts. One of the best experiences I have ever had, I was fresh out of college, had a few bucks in my pocket and not many obligations. Anyway heres why its been great:

- I have found there are basically three types of people that bum around private airports where general aviation ops occur. 1) people successful enough to afford to fly private jets or charters when they need 2) people successful enough to OWN their own plane. 3) People who are liable to become types 1 and 2. In general pilots are a nice bunch and a talkative bunch. Ive met some really great people (read business connections) just by lurking around the airport. That first client I had, had lots of similar buddies who were pilots that I got to meet etc. etc. By far the most productive business networking I have EVER done occurred near an aircraft.

- Flying keeps you sharp in all aspects and it WILL change the way you look at things. It keeps you sharp on doing paperwork, sharp on staying current on a topic, sharp on thinking ahead of things, sharp on staying in at least some sort of decent physical shape. I have built a lot of productive habits in my life to ensure I can fly.

- It hones your decision making skills, a lot....

- It re-shapes how you view getting around and enabling your business/work. Both pre and post pandemic life. Meeting with client within 500 miles, Im not dealing with trains or regional jets, im coming and going as I need. This has enabled same day travel, taking meetings i normally wouldn't have and being able to generally buy time back.

- Putting my PPL on my resume has been the best talking point, stand out item, liner note I have ever had.

- Its just good fun.

This is interesting, because a lot of it is similar to what I've long said about having an amateur radio license.

I list it on my resume as "Holder of FCC-issued radio operator license under Part 97, Extra class". For muggles, it's the beginning that sounds impressive. For other hams, it's the end.

And every. single. interviewer. has brought it up and asked about it. In technical roles, often one of the interviewers is also a ham or at least fairly aware of it. That's a natural branch to talk about side projects and hands-on competencies, which can otherwise be hard to introduce.

It requires some study, nothing to the level of a PPL, but most folks can't walk in off the street and get anything higher than a Tech license. General-class usually takes concerted study, and Extra is basically a thimble-full of college physics and a whole whack of practical electronics and RF safety.

Radio is mysterious to a lot of people. Heck, a lot of people don't even think of wifi and GPS and walkie-talkies and WDET as being the same thing. Being both competent with the tech itself, and facile with explaining it, makes one instantly valuable in a great many settings.

The privileges granted with a license are insane. I sometimes use the analogy that: Imagine everyone walks everywhere, or you can buy a little e-scooter that's speed limited to 2 miles per hour. All the fasteners are welded and it's illegal to modify your scooter. That's FRS, wifi, etc. Pay a fee and you can get licensed for GMRS, which is a 10mph scooter, but it's still welded shut because there's no technical competency required for that license. Or, demonstrate technical competency on the ham exam, and you get a license that allows you to drive a supercar at 1500mph, and you're allowed and encouraged to modify anything you like or build it from scratch if that's your thing, and they when you self-certify its roadworthiness, they just take your word for it because you hold that license and you probably know how to tune it and not hurt people and stuff. It's utterly bonkers.

Sadly the community around amateur radio is nowhere near as elite as you make out general aviation to be; there's substantial overlap with the wannabe-cop cosplayers, and I find the most interesting hams tend to not spend a lot of time at ham gatherings. There are some magnificent technical fora, to be sure, but they are the exception.

Getting PPE sounds like good fun; but once you got it what were some cool things you've been able to do without being a type (1) or (2) private airport person?

ill set the stage again a bit for context,

I don't own a plane or fly in 135 charters, I'm a member of a flight club that owns a few planes. As a member I effectively rent the planes from the club at a very reasonable rate with a small fixed monthly cost for things like storage etc. The planes are not used for primary training and are only available to club members. They are very well equipped IFR capable aircraft that are very well maintained. The club is small enough that its pretty easy to get a plane when you want/need one. With that in mind here are some cool things the club has aloud me to do.

1) I have moved a few times since I got my PPL and some of my friends have as well. At this point I have fairly close friends all up and down the eastern seaboard. The plane has aloud me to see them regularly without very much complex planning and often for lunch or breakfast when it would otherwise need to be for the whole weekend. Just yesterday I flew down south a bit to meet a buddy for breakfast that I otherwise would not have been able to drive to do do such a thing. This has been a really nice aspect of flying.

2) We have some family that lives close but not super close (7ish hour drive). The plane has aloud us to be part of their new borns life in a tangible way. Similar to seeing friends that I otherwise couldn't

3) The plane has expanded my weekend trip options. We have explored islands, gone to further cities and seem more than we would in a car. There are just north of 16,000 airfields in the US and only a small chunk of them service commercial traffic. I can get my little plane into pretty much all of them and land super close to lots of interesting places.

4) Ive been able to leverage interesting one day opportunities: Is there a once in a decade eclipse coming, best viewing spot is 600 miles, lets take the plane for the day. Is there an airshow somewhere lets fly in and check it out. Ferries booked to Nantucket for the weekend, take the plane. Want to get some chowder the vineyard for lunch, take the plane. Wedding in the Hamptons, traffic looking like its gonna be 6 hours to get there, take the plane. Buddies bachelor part is far and you need to get there friday potentially stuck in hours of beach traffic, take the plane (and pick up some friends along the way!)<- all things Ive done.

Before anyone jumps to "its super expensive to do those things" the fact is, in a reasonable GA plane its about the same cost as driving +fees for dealing with cars these days. My plane gets the gas milage of an SUV and most airports charge less than $20 a day for ramp parking, free if you buy some fuel typically. Some cities have silly $2 mandatory parking fees or what ever but if your careful about picking which small airport you go to in a city you can usually fly in for VERY cheap or free if you buy gas and you generally need to buy gas anyway... With tolls and gas prices the way they are its usually not much of a price difference to take the plane even after rental costs are figured in.

all the points you list about flying, I believe was the norm in the pre-ww2 world.. I think we lost something because our system is so resilient and comfortable, you fear nothing really

The bigger and more bureaucratic a company is, the more certs tend to matter.

Lack of experience and achievements also make certs stand out more, because you've got not much else to show for yourself.

Sometimes certs can be a red flag.. depending on the cert. For example, someone with a whole bunch of Windows certs applying for a job dealing only with Linux? That's a bit of a red flag. Doesn't mean they won't get the job, though.. it's just one factor in the hiring decision.

Sometimes for really laid back companies, any kind of formal signaling like this could be a turn-off. It's like coming in to a company wearing a suit when everyone else is wearing shorts.

> The bigger and more bureaucratic a company is, the more certs tend to matter.

This is the key point.

Certs aren't good/bad, or helpful/harmful in of themselves. They matter/or not depending on what type of employment(if any) you are trying for for.

For instance, I never want to work in bureaucracies or places levels/layers/management complexity that they must fall back on certifications, skill checklists, and the like. So, I never pursued any form of certification. Not even a university diploma.

I work for a fairly hige tech company and it’s pretty bureaucratic (although I suspect not nearly as much as some others) and certifications (other than academic degrees and such) still carry the same sort of negative connotation here the other answer implies.

> The bigger and more bureaucratic a company is, the more certs tend to matter.

Also: The more your role is "external consultant", the more certifications matter.

Driver's license.

Maybe it sounds obvious, but if you don't have a license, you are crippling yourself.

Even if you don't have a car, not having a license means you don't even have the option of renting one. Also, is is so "obvious" that if an employer notices that you don't have it, he will wonder why. Are you too stupid to drive? Crippled in some way? Economic problems? Have some criminal history? Alcoholic? You may have a legitimate reason, but it is still a red flag and you may need to clear yourself.

Second and just as obvious is a degree. Not so important if you have experience (though some large companies care), but a degree may be the key to a good first job that may launch the rest of your career.

I have never felt the need for any technical certification, not personally, the few I needed were paid by my employer for a specific mission, and done during work hours. Didn't get much use after that. Since I am not an English speaker, I probably could want something like a decent TOEIC score if I wanted to work in a large company in an English speaking country, but I am net even sure.

I don't know about other industries, but driver's licenses have never come up at all in tech. Treating it as a red flag is obviously facile, but, honestly, no worse than nonsense I have seen in tech hiring... but it's just not something that comes up.

College degrees can definitely matter, unfortunately, but they're not strictly required. I've seen teams and managers who were pretty snobbish about which university somebody went to—to the point where not having a degree would have been better than going to an unknown or poorly regarded school. It's an absurd idea and, thankfully, seems to be getting less common in tech, but I saw some of it first-hand. (From what I've heard, it's still a real problem in law where a bunch of firms in the US are virtually T14 or bust.)

This is probably the dumbest answer in this entire thread. Firstly, unless the role requires driving for some reason, anti-discrimination laws in many countries will make discrimination based on lack of a license illegal. Secondly, as someone with impaired vision who cannot get a drivers license, it's morally wrong, and your enumeration of associations someone might jump to are pretty fucking offensive.

Also, WRT TOEIC, while you might need something like that for visa/immigration purposes, i've never heard of a company looking at a piece of paper rather than just conducting the interview in English.

> Are you too stupid to drive? Crippled in some way? Economic problems? Have some criminal history? Alcoholic?

I recently got my driver’s license, first one, at an age far far above the norm for America, even if you factor in New York.

In a long and so far pretty successful career in tech, this has come up exactly once in a professional context, and it was my fault because I was asking about the lack of public transit options during an interview. CEO asked “why don’t you just get a license?”

My colleagues usually find out sooner or later that I don’t (didn’t) drive, because I’m very social. Most people are fascinated by the possibility. At the very least it’s a conversation starter.

I regret not getting the license sooner, but the kind of ignorant and malicious questions listed above have never, ever featured in my unusually long pre-DL experience.

Same boat. I also recently got my 1st license, relatively late. I will miss being able to break the ice by bringing up my learner's permits across multiple US states.

Don't think I've ever had any employers asking if I have a driving license (in the UK) unless driving was required for the role.

And the same for degrees, this seems to be very US centric IME. Not having a degree hasn't stopped me getting jobs in top salary brackets based purely on my experience, hell I even have a very odd work history and didn't move into tech till my 30's.

Same for certs, requirements for certs in job ads definitely seem to be a US thing. And for me if I'm reviewing CVs I see certs as a mild redflag as I've come across far, far to many people who have certs but couldn't work their way out of a soggy paper bag.

I am 38, have a PhD in EE, but no drivers license. I am not disabled or stupid. I have a successful career and no one ever enquired about it. I live a mid size city with ample public transportation; if anything having a car is the suboptimal/stupid choice. Your assumptions are ridiculous.

Is this some American car culture thing? Never heard someone mentioning it as an issue. If anything, in my circles owning a car is frowned upon.

It's an American thing. You're expected to drive from 16 on. Public transport is generally inferior to other developed countries, and carries an abhorrent level of cultural baggage. Being told someone rides the bus is seen as an insult (!) over most of the country.

Up until very recently, the big costs of running a car - 'gas', insurance, the car itself - were relatively cheaper in America than nearly anywhere else. Maybe now that Merkins are paying more for petrol their culture will adapt. However, cynicism would suggest a more Mad Max destination for us. We'll pry the guzzoline from their bullet-ridden bodies.

Yes. I grew up in a fairly small town. If you wanted to get anywhere you basically needed to drive. Even today there is little public transportation in that area and only between a few key places. Once I got my driver’s license I was expected to drive me and my younger sister to high school. But with responsibilities come privileges as I had use of a car for going out with friends, dating, getting to jobs, etc. For much of the geographic US it’s really the only practical form of transportation. That said my wife has managed to get by all her life without having a driver’s license so it can be done and employers never ask about it unless it’s actually needed for a job.

> Crippled in some way?

Thank you for your application. We have decided to pursue other candidates due to our recruiter getting "low key cripple vibes" from you. Don't take it personally though, and good luck in the future.

I have no earthly idea what you are talking about wrt drivers licenses. It’d be a mere curiosity at first but nothing beyond that.

> Also, is is so "obvious" that if an employer notices that you don't have it, he will wonder why. Are you too stupid to drive?

I assume you're from the US :-D Sorry, but this is one of the dumbest things I've read on the internet lately

A drivers license and a degree.. who would have thought of those

Ironically I worked for Mercedes-Benz without a drivers license.

One of the perks was that you could lease a vehicle at a high discount, which I never did of course.

I don't have a single cert of any type and have never needed them. My last role was at the Senior Staff level and I'm currently interviewing for a Principal position. I've found certs are mostly asked for by either very unusual jobs or bottom of the barrel employers that don't trust their own people. I'm not really looking for either of those things so I find I don't need certs.

They're a nice bonus, I used to dismiss them until my friends and I all worked at jobs where they would pay for the certification if you passed plus a bonus of $500. We would come together on Fridays and whoever had passed the most certs that week would get free drinks. I held sooooo many certifications in the 2000s and I got job requests every day. I went to more high level certs (like VCP and AWS architect) in the last decade and the recruiters haven't slowed down. And I'm pretty sure having a CISSP will walk you into any security position today. Don't discount certs as they are a cheap form of networking.

It's like going to college. You don't need it, but its a nice bump above others in the resume stack at some orgs

> ... don't trust their own people

Yep, thats the DoD for sure. They require a lot of useless certs.

Certs and the studying associated with certs has always been the biggest unlock in my career. The MCSE gave me a 50% salary uplift in the early 2000’s and the Cisco CCNA/CCNP gave me an invaluable networking background in the mid aughts. Recently, the AWS certs have given me an opportunity to pivot from management back into the technical realm and given me the confidence and framework to think about IT problems in a whole different way (traditional IT vs Cloud native) Throughout my life I’ve always done better by investing in myself and my learning, and certs have always been a huge part of that. My investments, stocks, startups, etc. have always been hit or miss, but my skills and the opportunities they have opened have been huge unlocks. Certs are a structured way to achieve those unlocks and represent them in the professional world. For all the cynicism one hears about certs, my experience has been the exact opposite, I’d do them all over again - I’ve learned a ton and had a rewarding career.

Amateur radio license. The experience is more relevant to my job than any corporate training I've ever done.

Note that "experience" means "everything I've done with the license since getting the license". Don't fall into the "achievement" trap: reading a book so you can pass a multiple choice test teaches you precisely nothing, unless you go out and start to apply the rote memorization.

I am trying to learn about radio (and the electric and magnetic fields in general), and I'm following the Great Scott Gadgets' "Software Defined Radio with HackRF" video series. I'm also thinking about getting an amateur radio license. What else could you recommend?

arrl.org and rsgb.org, the US and UK amateur radio organizations, sell a variety of books you might find helpful.

If you are in the US, ARRL sells books that teach to the specifics of the US tests. I used those but found them rather unsatisfying. There are other books which focus on experiments (see Hands-On Radio Experiments) and others on theory.

The ARRL Handbook is also useful. It's updated annually, but you won't miss too much if you save a few dollars by getting an older edition.

Interesting. What have you experienced with it since passing, and why is it relevant to your job?

I'm generally not a big fan of security certs, especially for mid career or later (and a lot of people I know got involved well before certificates were a thing; they might have gotten certificates early on had they entered the industry later). However, DOD (8570/8140), some specific regulations, and some specific clients sometimes require them. I also dropped out of both high school and MIT undergraduate so having at least some cert is sometimes helpful for forms.

Assuming you have the experience and a reasonable level of knowledge, CISA and CISM are pretty easy to maintain. CISSP is arguably worth it too but I let mine lapse due to annoying renewal requirements and some politics in the org.

Having one or more of these can be really handy -- sometimes you have a client who requires it (perhaps because they've copied someone else's requirements), sometimes there is a project you're tangentially aware of with an audit requirement, etc.

Technically they're nothing special. The Offensive Security stuff is probably the best for technical knowledge in their domain.

(I also do a bunch of med, shooting, driving, armorer, etc. classes; it's especially interesting seeing how adult education/instructional design/etc. work in those areas, independent of the actual subject areas taught. "Training" vs. "education" in a lot of cases, etc.)

> I also dropped out of both high school and MIT undergraduate

An MIT degree seems like it would actually be helpful in one's career. They seem to be pretty good in terms of engineering courses, faculty and student body. Did you skip directly to a graduate program?

No, I dropped out to do a startup, partially because I couldn't afford to pay for my tuition (I was ineligible for loans because my parents wouldn't sign/provide info, and MIT offered zero financial aid.)

Haha, I should have guessed it would be a startup. ;-) MIT offered zero financial aid? That's surprising.

I assume MIT's financial status is such that if they wanted to they could offer need-blind admissions and full financial aid packages without student loans the way many schools (e.g. almost all of the Ivy League) have. (Though I'm not sure whether they've gotten rid of parental loans, which are kind of terrible as well.)

Non-tech - Toastmasters - I think it is called 'Competent Toastmaster' it is the first set. Consists of doing 10 speeches. Significantly improve your ability to talk in public and to do presentations.

Toastmasters have a certificate? I didn’t know about that. But how this will be measured and standardised considering it is a community run?

I am CTO of a startup (and use to be freelance dev). I once did the Introduction into Machine Learning course on Coursera (https://www.coursera.org/learn/machine-learning).

Although I would agree with most opinions here that that does not make me into a data scientist by any meanse, I do really like that I have a good "helicopter view" of ML. This is still super benificial in my role today, as I know which kind of statistical models apply to certain kind of problems. This enables me to find the right people for the right solution with much more ease.

I don't think OP meant course completion certificates.

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