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Certifications for the cause

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  • Certifications for the cause

    In many businesses, certifications seem to play a decent part in job placement and salary. The sea of certifications can leave one wondering which tests are worth taking.

    Time and effort can be commented, although the knowledge is really needed whether the cert is achieved or not. One of the larger factors I can think of is price.. is it really worth plunking down $100-200 for A+ certification if hardware and support isn't the desired end?

    So... what certs do people have, why? What have they found them useful for? What are people shooting for, or does it even matter as much as advertised? What kind of certification track might be of interest to a security professional?
    if it gets me nowhere, I'll go there proud; and I'm gonna go there free.

  • #2
    I personally think certs are a load of crap. With people going to ITT and such just to pass the cert tests, they get certified without actually knowing anything other that how to pass a test. I don't think that there are any certifications around anymore for which this is not true.
    However some HR departments do not agree with me. It is much easier for them to say that the certification proves that you know something than say a year or two of experience.
    But what the hell do I know, I'm not in the job market. This is just what I have heard from talking with various people.



    • #3
      Originally posted by simple3
      However some HR departments do not agree with me. It is much easier for them to say that the certification proves that you know something than say a year or two of experience.
      But what the hell do I know, I'm not in the job market. This is just what I have heard from talking with various people.
      It really depends on the position, company, etc. If you had narrowed down the application process to two people, with relatively simular experience, background, and verbal skills, you might use the cert to give an extra point. I woulnd't say it's a final determining factor in most cases, but it does show some things:
      You are willing to stick out the X number of tests (many don't)
      You are trainable (you learned enough to pass the tests)
      The second one is important to many employers. Often they will take a BS/BA in any subject as a plus as it shows the person can be trained.

      As for certs in this industry meaning something on their own, I'd hazard that the GAIC certs have the most respect. Not only do you have to pass a multiple guess test, but you also have to write a paper on a subject that they approve of. There's some sample ones on their site.
      justazero -
      "Skepticism, like chastity, should not be relinquished too readily."
      - George Santayana


      • #4

        Certs have always been around, and will always be required for certain jobs. If you take someone that has been working for 10+ years, you will see certs that date back, and give you a bench mark on just what the person can LEARN. You have to take the certs, and add that to the work experience. I have gotten considerable wage adjustments by taking a week and getting certified. This seams to be the norm. Every two years or so, I will find the 'current' cert trend, attack it, and then ask for more money to do the same job. Lets not say that the certs make me better at what I do... but they sure have made my pay check look better. Year after Year after Year..

        I also like the fact that a 'certified' person at least took the time to find out what the trend is, and took the time to get the cert. That is a potential hire that will do what it takes to get the job, and will work the same way. Not complain about how it does not mean anything, but sucks it up, gets it done, and moves on.


        • #5
          I guess I came off a little one sided there, I would like to clear up what I meant a little. I do have a few certs myself, but I don't think being able to pass a multiple choice test proves that you know anything other than the answers to the test. In an industry dealing with the complexities involved in working with computers and cutting edge technology, an individual must know how to think, how to solve problems. This requires a certain degree of flexibility and creativity. An individual must also be familiar with the technology being used, this is what certs test, familiarity. Yes, I do agree that certs can compliment a person's resume. However I feel that the former is much more important. I am frusterated by the fact that many employers require a cert to even consider you. I believe that experience is much more indicative of a persons skill. When someone goes to ITT or something and gets 2 or three certs, I don't think that they have learned anything. The idea behind certs is that they show that you have become proficient in a subject matter through experience. I guess I could some this up by saying I feel that Certifications have become over valued in the market these days, it seems to me that some employers are considering them as a replacement of experience, when they should be used to compliment experience. I hope this clears some things up. I know sometime I come off a little harsh, especially at 11 at night.



          • #6
            I've found that the certs tend to help at the point of hiring, when negotiating a starting pay. I've started to accumulate some of the more generic Comptia ones, but, at $190 each (at least for those) I started wondering how the market really treated them outside of my little boxed perspective. I also haven't found a good measure for security related certification.. the major certs being primarily IT and network admin related by nature
            if it gets me nowhere, I'll go there proud; and I'm gonna go there free.


            • #7
              certs..not the candies

              I went to CompUSA for MCSE but never took the tests, but then I started to work the work and do what I was taught. Now I know my stuff and have an MCSE working under me.

              Getting a cert is like reading a book on karate. It's good stuff to know, but it MUST be applied in the real world to really count.

              By the way I had 20 questions at the interview for the MCSE, and when I heard he had certs I knew he could answer the first 6 questions. It was not a slam dunk like the commercials say.

              Bottom line: Get your cert for one reason -- because you WANT to have it for yourself.


              • #8
                In my 10 years of experience I have been offered more positions based solely on the fact that I have this cert or that cert, or because of academic degree.

                However I do agree that they are all crap for the most part. Just because I can take a test well, does not mean I can differentiate between my arse and a hole in the ground.

                In the current tech market, the fact that I have one or more of these pieces of paper has been the only thing getting me interviews.

                <layed off June 2001>
                <still not found a perm position>



                • #9

                  Having your papers in order can help the guy who hires you. You see, he has to ask less questions because he knows you know your stuff, and if you fail and have to get fired, then he can say he hired you based on your papers.


                  • #10
                    Paper is Paper...

                    Overall, getting enough paper to fill the "I love me" wall is only good if you can back it up with documentable experience. I have papers (not AKC certified) but without the "paying job" experience in using it, there is no sense in putting it down on the resume. As a friend of sombodies says "OH, so you have never translated that into a commercial application."
                    Life is too short not to enjoy....because you won't get out alive.



                    • #11
                      I will say that I have met several hundred individuals with all varying certificates that they have bought. Though all of them to one degree or another did not understand what they were doing, especially in reference to the cert.

                      Certs are pieces of paper that can be taken at the face value. Think of certs as ways to make you look prettier and more attractive to the job market, but nothing more. Most people that know what they are doing do not claim they have certs in whatever. It is the lamers of the world that wear silkscreen prints of their cert collection on their t-shirts thinking they will score chicks, but they can't learn, and will never learn, and will have to rely on people who accept their certs as conventional means to prove any type of brain power.

                      As an example I have seen fully certified MSCE's look up at me when they have dropped into a full screen command shell because they have no clue how to use the most basic commands, or how to press alt-enter in a windows environment.

                      Certs will never hurt you though, and could open many doors only because of some common belief that certs mean more brainpower... as a hacker, exploit that and get as many certs as you can, especially if you live in the world of money, where more money is better... just don't bring it up that you are cert-master at any conventional social platform. ;)


                      • #12
                        You need a combo

                        I think what most employers are looking for is the combo of both certs and experience.

                        For instance, if you were to work at a company that is a MS Gold Partner. To keep that "Gold" status the company needs a certain amount of MCP's and MCSE's on staff. So if a company had to choose between someone with 10 years exp, or 2 years of exp with a MCSE. Granted the 10+ guy probably knows more, but they have a quota to keep.

                        A few years back, all I had was on the job experience. I couldn't find a job because at the time, I had no degree and no certs. I went and got my A+, and my MCSE, etc and all of a sudden finding a job became a whole lot easier.

                        The cert doesn't necessarly mean that you know what to do and how to do it, but it does mean that you at least took some inititive to get certified. You paid money for books and classes (or the company thinks that) and you paid money to take these tests. A little investment in yourself says a lot to an employer.

                        Of course, I could be wrong.
                        -=[ So there we were. . . 9 against 1000. . . Toughest 9 we ever faced. ]=-


                        • #13
                          I do agree that cert is a piece of paper (crap) but most organization preferred to have it.

                          Certification is a good foundation to get a job. Experience with certification is unmatched.

                          If you're in the organization, it is recommended to get certified to your field to get good raise. This goes the same for public and private sector.

                          In Security Field.
                          Management and broad understanding of security, I recommend CISSP certification.

                          Specific and deep understanding of tools/knowledge, highly recommended to attend SANS certification such as Firewall training, IDS, Unix, etc.
                          Though their website was hacked last year by Fluffy Bunny, I still visit their site for research and documentation.


                          • #14

                            Cisco certification would be nice, but if I had that I would be "overqualified" and no boss would send me to that school. Drat.

                            I once felt that a cert was worth about 40% towards the final evaluation of the person. One MCSE did not know that Shift+tab would take you back to the previous box, and another had a heck of a time troubleshooting a Windows error. fter he fought with it for 24 hours I solved the error in 55 seconds. How? I went to the MS Knowledge base and typed in the error message word for word.

                            These are some skills that come by doing, not by studying. But one thing I found out. A guy with Certs may ask a thousand questions, but they are all different, and he never asks again. It sure beats the guy who asks the same question a thousand times! (Imagine having an assistant administrator for 6 months who still does not remember the domain name!)


                            • #15
                              Re: certs

                              Originally posted by astcell
                              It sure beats the guy who asks the same question a thousand times!
                              Dude, I am so there... I know one person that fits this to the tee... and damn a few years ago, they were ok, knew a few things.. but then must have hit his head or something because now he doesn't know how to do anything... except brag about his crappy little mcp (yea not msce by a longshot)... but anyone will tell him something, show it to him.. and then like a day later.. it is deja vu... now a few years later I wouldn't piss on a burning building to help him out... I have actually hidden under my desk when i hear his ass coming so I wouldn't have to hear his backwards babble... Also he never has a straight question.. he is the human DDoS...

                              /rant is complete. :)