The Value of Technical Certifications

The Value of Technical Certifications

What is the value of a technical certification really worth? You know. As in dollars and cents.

An InformationWeek US IT Salary Survey conducted earlier this year, provides some insight into this question. IT staff members responding to the survey said their certifications were nearly six times more valuable in developing their careers than college courses and nearly eight times more valuable than an MBA.

That’s pretty aggressive. But even so, the survey showed that IT management (you know, the people who, among other things, set salaries) said that to them, certifications were nearly 2.5 times more valuable than an MBA.

And probably rightly so. Especially when you consider technology can have radical changes every 12 to 18 months. Business principles and practices? Not so much.

Now, let’s see. What’s the cost of getting an MBA? A ranking of MBA programs by US News & World Report shows tuition costs of $25,000 to $50,000 per year to be common.

Need more? A 2014 report by the U.S Census Bureau studied earnings data from 2012 and, among its many findings, reported the following: “The median monthly earnings for someone with a professional certification or license was $4,167 compared to $3,433 for someone with only an educational certificate, $3,920 for someone with both types of credentials, and $3,110 for someone without any alternative credential.”

That sounds like real dollars and cents for students, but what about the companies for which they work? Any benefits there? A recent article in CIO magazine discussed this very thing and included an interview with CompTIA president and CEO Todd Thibodeaux.

In the article Mr. Thibodeaux said, “It’s one thing to hold a degree or point to acquired knowledge of IT concepts and theories, but it’s quite another to be able to prove, in practice, your command of technology and leverage it to make business more efficient. That’s exactly why IT certifications are so valuable to businesses.”

He went on to say, “The value of technical certifications for business is greater than ever. Academic credentials validate that you have the classroom knowledge associated with the job you are applying for, but that book learning will only take you so far.”

He then went on to quote the results from research recently conducted by CompTIA.

According to Mr. Thibodeaux, the research identified that, “Certified employees acclimate more quickly to new work environments, technologies and processes, which means fewer training hours, and their problem-solving skills are much more finely tuned.”

He then noted, “The learning curve is much shorter for a certified IT worker than it is for a noncertified counterpart. Certified workers are more likely to fix problems right the first time and are more adept at anticipating issues and resolving them before they become major problems.”

Of course, what is not said in all of the data, statistics and research is that not all professional IT certifications are created equal.

Let’s face it. There isn’t a whole lot of value in a certification that comes from answering a bunch of multi-choice test questions. The proof of “real world” knowledge comes from performance-oriented certifications that have a laboratory component. Which is exactly why we at KnowledgeNet go to such lengths to provide the types of training and hands-on lab experiences that we do. It’s only through this type of training that the certifications that bring real “value” to IT professionals and their employers can be achieved. And as you can see, we’re talking about “value” in every “cents” of the word.

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