When I’ve spoken to people about certifications (anywhere in IT, whether it’s programming, databases, sys-ops, etc…), I’ve always encountered very heated positions. There seems to be no middle term on this debate… opinions seem to revolve around the ones who think they are a great idea and the ones who actively dislike hate them.
Typical arguments I’ve heard in favour of them:
- Learning the tools will make you a better builder.
- They are appreciated (and sometimes required) by companies.
- They proof your knowledge of the tools, generally by the institutions behind these tools.
Typical counterarguments I’ve heard against them:
- Building will make you a better builder. You’ll learn about the tools while building.
- I wouldn’t want to work for a company that cares about titles, but one that cares about the things I’ve built or the things I have the potential to build.
- I don’t care who made what, but how to use it in order to build what I want.
The whole problematic seems to be tightly coupled to this discussion in Quora: learning by studying vs learning by doing. The best answer, in my opinion, reaches the next conclusion:
So the answer is quite simply (almost always) to learn by both Studying AND Doing.
Exactly. I never really understood why this whole debate had to be around X OR Y, rather than X AND Y. I do understand that studying and preparing for a certification are not necessarily the same thing, since some certifications involve heavy practical preparations in order to pass their exams.
I have got a few certifications, and my motivations to prepare them were different depending on the technology that I decided to master and the moment of my career I was on. Sometimes, being in a boring job may be a perfect trigger to invest your time in studying that thing you couldn’t quite get yet, or that seems exciting to you and you want to do next.
It’s obvious that you don’t need a certification to learn something new, but it worked quite well for me in terms of establishing a framework of reference and getting to know the capabilities of that something new. I guess I’d reformulate the whole question as something like: does it help preparing a certification when learning a new technology? m__y answer to this question would be yes, but it’s never a necessary step, and it’s definitely a short one. You should also build something using that technology.
Knowing the specifications of every tool a hardware shop sells doesn’t make you MacGyver, but just the employee of the month. Only by using them you will reach a level of confidence in which you can consider you’ve mastered a technology. But there is a point to be consider here, and it’s the fact that knowing your tools beforehand will make you quicker / sharper when it comes to using them, and also the fact that learning their capabilities comes hand by hand to learning use cases for them.
So, ultimately, my answer to the question “should I prepare for this certification?” would be something along the lines of “it won’t hurt you, but it depends".