Should I become certified?
During my training programs developers often ask me this question. Somewhere in mind they seem to be unsure about the benefits of certification. My answer has always been - Yes. If possible be certified. This answer is not at all based on the direct benefits of certification. Rather it is based on the indirect benefits of certification.
A typical developer living in busy city such as Mumbai has very less time for upgrading himself. I will not argue if their claim of scarcity of time is true or not but it is a fact that many developers are bit ignorant about their skill set development. Now a days tough competition exists in all spheres of life. A minute advantage can actually turn your fortune.
Here are some tendencies that I observe in many developers:
- Their skillset has lower priority then many other things in life
- They are reluctant to spend money on right training
- They are reluctant to spend money on certification exams
- They want better job opportunities but they don't realize that they need to make them sound
- They do not find time for reading or studying upcoming technologies
- They are in a hurry to learn new technology because they want to spice up their resumes
How certification is related to all the above problems? Well...certification can help you if you acquire it in proper way. Let me explain my point by listing few reservations that developers have about certification.
- There is no value to certification in Indian IT industry
- The cost of certification exams is too much
- Certification is for beginners in the industry and not for experienced developers
Let me now take each of the about point and elaborate it further.
It is true that a many Indian software development companies do not give much weitage to certification. This is completely understable because Indian software industry is mainly service oriented. Many companies provide offshore development services to their clients in US and UK. Such companies need skilled resources so that they can be productive from day one. Naturally they give more weitage to experience rather than certification. Experience is something that you can compensate with any other attribute.
It is a truth, though bitter, prevailing in the industry that some developers pass certification exams with the help of unethical ways. I won't talk about those in any more details but developers don't understand that by doing so they are harming temselves. One of the reasons that companies often neglect certification is that they are not sure if the concern developer has passed the exam ethically or not.
The biggest benefit of certification as I see it is the efforts that you put in studying a technology. In fact more than the certification itself these efforts to learn a technology give you much more. When you decide to become certified you have some goal set in front of your eyes. With a proper goal you start working to achieve it. You read books, surf web sites, give mock exams. All these efforts make you rich in terms of knowledge. This knowledge may not be always in terms of real experience but at least you know the capabilities of a technology and possibly have some lerning experience with it. In your future projects you can apply this knowledge. Unless you know something you cannot apply it. Further this preparation helps you give job interviews confidently. You need not "prepare" for an interview because you are now sound in that technology. Can you see the indirect benefit now? Don't you think it is a big benefit? Keeping the certification aside this honest preparation itself gives you many advantages. You then need not bother whether the certification has value in the industry because you have increased your professional value by making yourself technically sound.
The second excuse is cost of certification. A typical .NET certification exam costs around Rs. 2500 (this is of course as on this writing). Honestely thing - Is it really too big? A typical software developer spends money on variety of things including heavy mobile bills, imported shoes, bike etc. Can you not spare or save some amount for your own benefit? I think this is possible if you are convienced about the benefits.
Software industry is very dynamic. Every now and then new technologies come up. New versions are released every year or two. If you wish to maintain (or improve) your professional value then you must repeate the cycle of learning again and again. You might be one of the best VB6 developers five years ago but that in no way makes you one of the best .NET developer. You must upgrade youself otherwise somebody will replace you in the race. Beginners as well as experienced developers can be benefited from certification alike. It depends on your attitude and how you harvest on these benefits.