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Certifications?

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invalidname
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Joined: 2003-06-09
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As a programmer, do you hold certifications, either from Sun or some other organization? Do you think they're an important testament to your skills?

Conversely, if you're in the position of hiring developers, do you require or look favorably on certifications? Have you had good or bad results hiring programmers who had one or more certifications?

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chudak
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Joined: 2005-09-06
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If it takes studying for a certification for you to have the initiative to learn something new like threading then you are exactly the kind of person that I WOULDN'T hire for my team.

The kind of people I look for are those that are self motivated and take the initiative to learn new material on their own and find ways to apply it to new problems.

And, FWIW, I probably know a hell of a lot more about threading than you do and I've never sat for or studied for a Java exam.

Any moron can cram for an exam but just because you passed doesn't mean you have any practical experience with any of the stuff you were tested on.

mgarber
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Joined: 2004-12-15
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I took (and passed) Java 5 test when it was in beta (one that took 5 hours to do, I dont know if the new, official one is like that).

My motivation to do it was strictly a formal way to force myself to learn Java 5 features. In my career, I have not seen absolutely any reason to do certs so far.

I started Architect cert few years ago and feel like I really don't need to finish it. The topics I need to study to complete the Architect cert have nothing to do with what real-life Java enterprise environment looks like today.

klopperq
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Joined: 2005-09-23
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If I saw 2 very similar candidates, 1 certified the other not, and all else being equal I would hire the certified 1.

To me that's reason enough to do it.

amyatt
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I agree. Certifications are a useful tool. Yes they can be over-hyped, but as someone said above, if you are hiring and with 2 candidates have one person with no certifications and another with several, I might put more weight on the resume of the person with certifications. When evaluating whether to hire programmers it may also be useful to combine the certifications a programmer has with a technical field test. The last place I worked at we administered a 10 question exam that covered 6 Java questions and 4 SQL questions (per requirements of the position) just to see if the interviewee knew some basic info. After 20 candidates took the exam I examined results. Some of the questions were extremely similar to those found on the SCJP exam. The questions were all multiple choice with a section below each question to optionally write down why an answer was correct. More often that not the people with the SCJP certification not only answered the question correct but also wrote a "why". The people who did not have the certification often did write reasons why answers were correct, but these tended to more general rather than the specific answers I received from certified individuals.

I don't see a negative to certifications (other than their cost).

tackline
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Joined: 2003-06-19
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> some basic info. After 20 candidates took the exam I

Of those 20 candidates, how many were you planning to hire? It doesn't matter how the bulk do. How do the most appropriate candidates do.

(Of course appropriateness is situation dependent. Those that want staff to keep seats warm and suck up, will require a set of candidates disjoint from those that are competent.)

amyatt
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Out of 20 candidates we wanted to hire 2. 6 were considered well-qualified (at least after the interviews were over) and di very well on the field test. Of the 6, 5 of those had more than one relevant certification. The 6th candidate only had the SCJP.

olsonje
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Joined: 2005-08-10
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> If I was an employer, I'd want to hire the certified
>employee - that way when crunch time comes, they
>employee knows what to do & doesn't need to stop & take
>time to learn.

And what of a CS/CE BS/MS/PHD degree holder? I see the same arguments here told to those folks where everyone seems to value experience more, yet I can tell you from my personal experience, those years of experience sometimes don't hold water to the base core knowledge that a fresh college grad holds. And yet, it seems that they are resented more then a cert holder, especially by those who don't have a degree.

That’s like your example of a board certified surgeon, they might have a cert, but the base knowledge and skill set they have came from a degree, the cert process was only to refine and detail their knowledge more to build on it to a level that others felt they where ready. You can't, for the most part, say the same about someone who just has a cert without a degree on the backend. The core knowledge isn't there, the cert then means that they are for the most part a certified one dimensional specialized programmer.

phlogistic
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Joined: 2004-01-15
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Chudak - of course you don't have a certification & you're totally jealous of them...that's readily apparent.

So tell me have you flown with an uncertified pilot, drove with an uncertified driver, or received surgery from an uncertified surgeon? Keep the faith!

chudak
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Joined: 2005-09-06
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Jealous, LOL, that's rich.

Equating pilot certification to programmer certification is apples and oranges my friend. Which would you rather have, a pilot who had only ever flown in a simulator or one that had thousands of hours of actual flying time? That's a more accurate, albeit still lacking, comparison.

If you think certification was helpful to you, great.

However, [b]I[/b] think that it is overrated and irrelevant. Having managed a J2EE team for several years and interviewed dozens of candidates, I can tell you that certification made no difference in the ability of the candidates. In fact, I would argue, that the certified candidates were generally less skilled and able to pass a simple phone screen than non certified individuals.

amelita
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Joined: 2003-06-18
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Certifications help I don't see any disadvantages, since you can't pass the exam without the expertise and if you have the expertise it'll be a big help in the actual job, and plus getting certified is a big factor in resume specially looking for a job or any new project.:)

phlogistic
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Joined: 2004-01-15
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I'm a programmer, and hold the SCJP & SCWCD certifications.

I've found the skills to be of use. For example, before certification, I'd spent zero time looking at how to execute threads, for multi-threading application. Several months after certification, my employer comes along & has problems in crunch time with part of a Java application taking too long. The solution? Multi-threading! Had I not taken the certification I would of not had such experience readily available in crunch time.

Sure, a non-certified programmer could of done the same with suggesting a multi-threaded solution. But the non-certified programmer would:
1) Have to at least know that multi-threading exists & could benefit the employer's predicment
2) Study, learn, & test how multi-threading works before implementing a viable solution for the employer's needs.

If I was an employer, I'd want to hire the certified employee - that way when crunch time comes, they employee knows what to do & doesn't need to stop & take time to learn.

There are many individuals who find no value in certifications, and call certifications useless. I invite those individuals to fly in a plane piloted by an uncertified pilot, ride in a bus with an uncertified driver, or receive open heart surgery from an uncertified heart surgeon. Put some faith in your beliefs, right people? :)

hammer
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Joined: 2003-07-24
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I have both SCJP and MCP certifications, and I think you can logically argue that certifications don't provide a useful measurement of knowledge or experience.
1) Experience: The only conclusion about a person's experience you can make from a certification is that the person has at least enough experience to pass the test. This could be 80 hours studying the technology. This number comes both the Sun and MS cert sites that recommend courses of 8-10 days for training for the exams.
2) Knowledge: The certification only test a very basic knowledge of the language. SCJP has no GUI or web(servlet/jsp) questions, Microsoft seems to be more concerned with being able to use their tools and methodologies than with actual language knowledge.

So, What can a certification tell me (a developer) about a developer? and is that different from what a certification can tell a manager of client about a developer?
What are some things a certification is good at measuring?

jshickey
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Joined: 2004-05-13
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They are like Undergraduate and Graduate degrees: the people that scream the loudest about how worthless they are the people that don't have them.

Everyone knows someone who skated through college, crammed the night before tests and got their degree. They are usually the person skating through everything else as well and it doesn't take long for others to figure it out. That doesn't mean that a college degree is worthless and the people who have a degree are idiots and those that don't are the smart ones.

Obviously, experience is most important but the problem is that everyone knows someone with a very impressive resume who still codes HashMap m = new HashMap() - or worse (becuase it's harder to weed out) does it right but doesn't know why it's right and doesn't care why.

wegge
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Joined: 2003-06-18
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What's wrong with HashMap m = new HashMap()???

jshickey
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Joined: 2004-05-13
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Code to interfaces, not implementations.

Map m = new HashMap();

hammer
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Joined: 2003-07-24
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I've been a consultant for the last five years and I've learned that it's more important to know what certifications are used for. They are really no reflection upon your skills. I've know both great and horrible programmers with certifications. In my experience as a consultant I've seen certifications mainly used by clients (especially goverment) as requirements in an RFP. This means if you are working for a consulting company (or applying to one,) certifications can be helpful.

nickhomeaccount
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Joined: 2003-10-24
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I've found it requires a great deal of intelligence (or stupidity... I’m not sure which one) to take most certification tests and not learn anything.

jwenting
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Joined: 2003-12-02
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does it?
Many certifications can be passed by just cramming for the exam for a few days or weeks.
That's the way to get a piece of paper without learning anything, as the knowledge doesn't get stored in your longterm memory and isn't backed by any realworld experience.