When it comes to IT learning, there are a couple schools of thinking. There are people out there who are on a constant, never ending quest for certificates. And then there are those who, while the certs are nice, they are seeking out the skills behind the certs. And with that in mind, we can talk about the idea of cert training versus skill training.
Right off the bat, what do we mean by the idea of cert training? From my perspective, cert training is simply the effort to learn only what you need to know, in order to pass any and all certification exams. Some might see this as almost a purely memorization effort to an extent. Some who pursue this path can be found all over the usual forums and social media, always hunting for the latest exam dumps. Chances are if you’ve ever taken a cert exam, and then posted about it on LinkedIn or Twitter, someone may have then reached out asking for some exam dumps.
I’ve gotten plenty of those messages, as have others. Someone, desperate to gain a specific cert, reaches out asking you for a shortcut, or those despicable dumps. For the record, exam dumps are frowned upon, if not explicitly forbidden by most. Anyone who actually has invested the time and energy into their own certificates should be opposed to them.
And then there are those who are on a constant quest to learn new abilities-those seeking skills training. These folks don’t care about holding a piece of paper conferring some technical certification on them. They may not be opposed to those certs, of course, but the certificate is not the primary focus. Those people are looking to learn new skills. By effectively learning those new skills, they can be committed to memory. Whether they earn a new cert or not, they’ve acquired the skills.
There is a reason we continue to see cert chasers versus skills hunters. Some employers are always putting certificates ahead of experience and ability. We’ve all seen it…some recruiter seeks someone with XYZ certificates, and if you don’t have those, don’t bother applying. And yet, anyone in IT knows that there are always people who have the certs…but not the skills. And, if you are a hiring manager, you know you need people with the skills to do those jobs. If they have both the requisite certs and skills, that’s perfect.
As someone who has a handful of certifications, I can tell you from personal experience, you want and need the skills. Those certifications I had the easiest time with? They were not easy because I memorized questions and answers from books. These were easier because they leveraged my skills, learned from training and actually using them in work settings. If ever I tried to find a shortcut and not put in the hard work to learn a skill, I wound up regretting it…and had to spend the time to go ahead and learn the skill anyways.
Something else to keep in mind: certs expire, skills don’t. Sure, skills can indeed fade, if you don’t use them. However, if you never really learn those skills…then what’s the point? Learned skills can be kept sharp by constantly learning and studying. Having a cert might get you a job…but having and using those skills means you can keep that job and advance.
Speaking from experience, you want to have the skills much more than the certs.