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Are professional IT certifications valuable or meaningless?

Capgemini Program Manager Mike Ennis believes obtaining IT certifications can mean more than just having another piece of paper to hang on the wall. “I think within a few years having a testing certification is going to be just as important to a tester’s career as a project manager’s career having a PMP certification,” Ennis said.

Rebecca Staton-Reinstein, president of Advantage Leadership, concurs with Ennis. Recently, she worked with a company with clients who required a certain level of organizational maturity. “This is more and more a thing that companies are requiring of their vendors,” she said.

Sometimes, the benefits of a certification aren’t so black and white. Reinsten said doing something that isn’t a requirement shows a person is willing to go the extra mile and invest in him or herself. “There is this perception that you are more of a go getter, you are more of a self-starter,” she said. “It’s a subtle factor that I’ve found that over the years, it’s probably one of the real values.”

It’s not just an employer’s perspective that should be taken into consideration, but the test-taker’s as well. Ennis said one can learn about software testing from a best practices perspective, not just how it’s done at his or her respective organization. “It also gives you some better techniques that you can also apply to your everyday tests,” he noted.

Just like a college degree, it’s possible a professional certification can become merely another line on a person’s resume. It can be argued that it’s not about how many degrees or certifications a person has, but the knowledge he or she has and how it’s applied that matters most.

Do you think earning professional certifications is a good idea or a waste of time and money?

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Those are good points on both sides. I hear some veteran project managers talk about making sure all their testers have at least a base set of skills and using a certification is one way to go about that. On the other hand, I hear other veteran project managers that look down on certifications. They want their testers to be good at thinking outside the box. Scoring well on a standardized test might not be the best way to show off what an experimental thinker you are.
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