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Are Non-Technical Certifications Worth Earning? 118

Nerval's Lobster writes: Everybody knows that certain technical certifications can boost your career. For developers and others, though, is it worth earning non-technical certifications such as the PMP (Project Management Professional), CRISC (which certifies that you're good at managing risk)? The short answer, of course, might be, 'Yes, if you plan on moving into management, or something highly specialized.' But for everybody else, it's hard to tell whether certain certifications are worth the time and money, on the nebulous hope that they'll pay off at some point in the future, or if you're better off just focusing on the technical certifications for certain hard skills.
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Are Non-Technical Certifications Worth Earning?

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  • HR likes MBA PHD masters

    • Actually, if you are going to pursue one of these, ask yourself whether the branch of the industry you are heading towards embraces said cert. It makes sense to get ITIL Foundations if you want to work for companies that go down that route. This will be true for PMP, higher degrees, etc. Getting an industrial management cert might make sense for a welder... not so sure it would for an underwater basket weaver.
  • by DesertBlade ( 741219 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @07:03PM (#50536929)
    What I find interesting is that most people who earn certificates and then place all those acronyms after their name are the ones that have difficulty adjusting to the real world. Critical thinking is more important than certificates. Most certifications teach you a specific way to do things and not to go off the rails.
    • Most of the really good PMs I know are not PMP, PRINCE2 or whatever certified. They're too busy earning money running projects, mostly real big ones.
      Equally, you'll find plenty of examples of both public and private-sector multi-million projects that were "managed" into a smoking hole in the ground by "certified professionals".
      I'm sure that plenty of the PMP/PRINCE2 guys are really good; but all the ones I've met have been hopeless.

    • Could scarcely agree more fervently, and I've been one of these "non-technical" technicians (BA, PM, TW, QA) for well over 20 yrs. I once sat through a meeting at American Express in which a PMP spent the first ten minutes (at least) going on about her green belt in 6-sigma and deftly receiving and expanding the plaudits that were returned to her. As the project went on I realized I had been placed under the governance of a secretary -- no it was worse than that, she was a niggling functionary; if the app

  • by Irate Engineer ( 2814313 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @07:14PM (#50537017)

    There are thousands of different types of certifications, so many that most are unheard of and useless.

    As a matter of fact, if you send me $100, I will certify you as being a online purchasing specialist. I'll even print you a nice Word 97 template certificate of completion to hang on your basement wall!

    I don't have a snazzy acronym for this certificate filled in yet; I'm trying to find descriptive words that will fit the acronym A.S.S.H.A.T.

    This should certainly make your resume memorable to future hiring managers.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    After discharging the 90% of Six Sigma Training that's either nonsense, or common sense, the rest is rather useful.

    • I saw someone put Six Sigma on their resume. The whole thing looked like immense amounts of padding. So ya, if you still have white space visible on your resume, then squeeze in some more useless certificates. And I include technical certificates in that category. In my experience I have seen lots of people who can not think outside of the curriculum, if the certificate didn't test on something then they can't deal with it. Most technical jobs require you to think outside the box, in fact all of real l

      • I still have MCSE NT on my resume, because it shows that I can take the tests if needed, but I prefer knowledge to shiny paper.

  • It depends on who you ask.

    HR incorrectly screens people, and thus prefers certifications, because they have no idea what they're doing in terms of real qualifications, so they get a list of "people in this industry with this profession will have these certifications" and then just look at those, instead of "can s/he do the job".

    CEOs think they know what they need, but they also have no clue, so they just use the buzzwords and certifications they think will work. So if the CEO hires you after sitting next to

  • I'm a certified Lobster Boiler.

  • by i.r.id10t ( 595143 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @08:08PM (#50537351)

    The most important certs just about anyone can get that most will never put on a resume would be a First Aid/CPR/BLS course. If you are an outdoors person around bodies of water a lot, a lifeguard course wouldn't be too bad to have under your belt as well.

    After that, certs really become more specialized training in whatever your work field is...

  • I took the PMP test from a company that was not the official PMP outfit. I passed it with no problem. Anybody that studies for a week or two could pass it. However, the real PMP class and test costs hundreds to thousands of dollars and there is continuing education associated with it. I did not consider it worth my time to pursue the actual PMP certification and upkeep as it would not have brought in an extra dime for me. However, if a company would pay for it, then why not?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The PMP exam can only be written at a licensed testing provider after your project management portfolio has been approved by the Project Management Institute (PMI). Therefore, you could not have taken the PMP "test" from "a company that was not the official PMP outfit". You may have written a test made from someone's coles notes version of a real test (e.g. a Testking type of test), or a completely unrelated test that someone slapped the words PMP on top of. Essentially the test you took may have been compl

  • Certifications are NEVER worth getting unless you learn something from them.
    If you don't learn anything from them, it's a worthless cert, and you don't want to work for a company that respects it.

    If you disagree with me, and think a cert is worth getting for 'respect' or something instead of learning, then you will probably like working for that kind of company.
    • You have it backwards. The name should give you a hint too. A certification is meant to certify a certain skill or capability that you should already possess. It also certifies that you are aware of the process and formal rigor you are supposed to follow when you handle certain responsibilities.

      Such as project management. A PMP certification for example certifies that you know how to handle various aspects of project management. It also certifies that you make the right judgment calls in handling various am

      • Most of your post is trying to explain why PMP is important. You do it by saying, "the person will have to learn X, the person will have to learn Y, the person will have to know Z." In other words, to show that the certification has value, you also show that a person can learn something by getting the cert.

        Of course there are people who already have the skill.....should they get the certification? Usually those people already know if the cert is worth getting or not. They don't ask that question. Further
        • You are oversimplifying this. Project management is not one skill. It is a collection of skills, techniques, adherence to certain processes and best practices.

          Most people acquire these skills on the job, either hands on, or by getting mentored by others or by watching others or even through past failures.

          But that could still mean that a technically skilled project manager is still lacking awareness of some aspects that she or he should be considering. Even simple things like doing effort estimation correctl

          • You are oversimplifying this. Project management is not one skill. It is a collection of skills, techniques, adherence to certain processes and best practices.

            Apparently PMP doesn't include reading comprehension, because you're attacking straw-men. Go back and read what I wrote, and see if you can come up with a more coherent response.

            • Apparently PMP doesn't include reading comprehension, because you're attacking straw-men. Go back and read what I wrote, and see if you can come up with a more coherent response.

              I will try to reword my response so that you are capable of understanding my straight-forward point.

              Most of your post is trying to explain why PMP is important. You do it by saying, "the person will have to learn X, the person will have to learn Y, the person will have to know Z." In other words, to show that the certification has value, you also show that a person can learn something by getting the cert.

              A certification does not teach, it certifies.

              CERTIFY (transitive verb)
              - attest or confirm in a formal statement.
              "the profits for the year had been certified by the auditors"
              synonyms: verify, guarantee, attest, validate, confirm, substantiate, endorse, vouch for, testify to;

              - officially recognize (someone or something) as possessing certain qualifications or meeting certain standards.

              The irony is thick here

              • You're trying to come up with some roundabout logic that a certification implies learning, or forces you to learn,

                No. I'm trying to come up with a metric that measures the value of getting a certification.

  • Though the Prostitute Management Program certification might actually hold slightly more prestige.

  • by multimediavt ( 965608 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @08:58PM (#50537643)

    Are Non-Technical Certifications Worth Earning?

    The question was answered in the summary, "'Yes, if you plan on moving into management, or something highly specialized.'"

    Really, what more is there to say?

    • We had a hiring event on Thursday in the DC area, we ended up having about 175 PM types(non technical) and 25 technical types(10 or so with PMP), guess which ones go the phone calls..... I would only view a non technical to help supplement your technical ability and to help bridge the gap between the tech and non tech people. Frankly it was scary how many non technical types were after jobs at a tech based company.
  • by __roo ( 86767 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @09:49PM (#50537849) Homepage

    Search your favorite job postings website for project manager jobs. Ten out of ten of them will say that a PMP certification is either required or preferred.

    A few reasons employers look for a PMP certification: a) several years of professional project management experience are required in order to qualify to take the exam, b) it shows a certain level of commitment to furthering one's career as a project manager, and c) if someone has taken and passed the PMP exam, it means they're at least familiar with standard project management tools, techniques, and practices.

    Tom me, those seem like reasonable reasons for adding the PMP certification as a requirement for a project manager job posting. But it definitely means that if you want to move your project management career forward, you should really consider the PMP certification.

  • I am a certified Mack Daddy.

    Here is my graduation photo:

    http://images1.laweekly.com/im... [laweekly.com]

  • by mtippett ( 110279 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @11:17PM (#50538185) Homepage

    Although the articles mentions that there is a meaningful financial benefit to the certifications, the challenge is finding industries and companies that recognize and value the certifications. The companies that I have worked at (in particular software) the certifications would be mostly meaningless as a recognition of skill and understanding. Hardware, logistics, regulated companies will likely have a higher value in a PMP or a CRISC.

    However, there is a secondary worth to these certifications as a professional. You may end up seeing the world differently. With practice you can begin to intuitively see elements of the certification in your daily professional life. This secondary insight will help you as a professional.

    For example, developers with PMP and CRISC don't "pad" estimates, they estimate the risks and unknowns, something that a lot of regular developers don't do. They see estimates as ranges or with relative confidence, those levels of ranges help give better estimates to make better decisions.

    The certifications help you indirectly as a professional. That said, you can still skip the certification and read the text books (like the PMBOK), but that won't necessarily fill in all the gaps you may have in understanding.

  • by Tony Isaac ( 1301187 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @12:32AM (#50538391) Homepage

    I have a relative who got some kind of computer repair certification, but I don't want him anywhere near my computers! I don't have any special certifications, and I'm always the one explaining to him how to fix computers. Not all certifications are created equal, but many aren't worth the paper they are printed on.

    • by rjforster ( 2130 )

      The people I've known who had the best technical skills had no certifications so on that basis I'd certainly say yes.
      Another point is that I think any certification that is easy for me to get is a waste of time (a bit like clubs that would have Groucho Marx as a member). CISSP was trivial to pass but is a big deal at my place of work and that's the only reason I've got it.

  • Are certifications for jobs you don't want worth earning?

  • I've moved a few times in the past year and a half.

    After moving piles of certificates again during the last move, I realized that nobody had ever - once - asked if I was certified in X, Y, or Z. I also realized that every employer I've ever had that needed certification for X, Y, or Z in order to accomplish a thing, was willing to pay me to get said certification and (again) nobody ever asked afterward.

    I looked at this pile of hard-earned paper and briefly considered buying a bulk box of frames from Alibab

  • I was wondering what was all that interesting about companies asking for ITIL for a while until actually they made it mandatory to have it at the job. It just memorising a book from some english oldtards...the same that are making a clusterfuck about keeping gov IT at UK keeping on. Never had such worthless piece of paper.
  • Define "useful" (Score:4, Informative)

    by bwcbwc ( 601780 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @06:09AM (#50539247)

    If you're asking which certs give a high probability that the certificate holder can do the job, that's one thing. If you're asking which certs will get you on the short list for a hiring interview, that's another.

    PMP may actually appear on both lists. I know that it appears on a lot of postings for Project Managers. And project mgmt isn't just managing Gantt charts. It's a whole sub-discipline under Industrial Engineering.

    The big certs right now appear to be for security pros.

  • Getting a certification / diploma, whatever prestigious is a path to disaster in a career. I know a lot of people who went in somewhat good MBA and yet failed. Not because their MBA sucked, but because they didn't knew why they did it. Wanting a "nice career" is NOT a path or a project. A lot of these certification just find people who stagnate and tell them, "Sign up, do it, and you'll be a manager earning XXX". But if your only reason is "my career is stagnating and I want a boost", then keep clear and
  • Might not have anything to do at all with your IT duties, but very often generates an interesting conversation. Most people assume you're a bit more competent/mature/serious (whether that's the case or not).

  • Depends where you are, of course, but over here in Europe having certificates for speaking languages can help a lot, even for anti-social loner nerds like me. The certificates show potential employers that you'll do hard work to gain new skills, and that you have skills that will always be useful somewhere. I might only use English professionally, but being able to share jokes with the locals in their own lingo gets lots of brownie points. I found, to my surprise, that as a software engineer, it's not diffi
  • by Lawrence_Bird ( 67278 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @10:26AM (#50540481) Homepage

    There are really two components to this. First, is the time/effort/expense worth it to gain knowledge that may be useful in your profession or career generally. Second, will that certificate confer any additional monetary benefits or different/more advanced position in the near term.

    The former is completely independent of the latter. Not everything you may know or do is assigned a tangible value by your current or future employer but having such knowledge may make your job easier to do or allow you to outperform others.

    The later may often be true for all but the most specialized certifications. Rather than just list a bunch of acronyms it might be better to reference having 'a number of additional certifications in related fields' and allow the hiring firm to enquire further if they are interested. By doing so you show you continue to improve and stay current for its own sake and not to wave a bunch of letters at someone.

  • Are those considered "non-technical"? They're not in the I.T. field. Take me for example... i'm in paleontology. i'm doing ok.

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.