On certification

While googling for something completly different, stumbled apon this letter from a 1999 issue of USENIX’s ‘;login:’ magazine by Sergey Babkin, in which he shares his view on Certification, which I mostly agree with. An exerpt below, click the link for his full comment:

I believe that certification benefits neither the professionals nor their clients. Does it benefit anyone? Of course it does. It benefits two social groups: the bureaucracy that conducts the certification and the people who can’t stay in the business without being protected by a shield of certificate. We can easily find numerous examples in current life.

Take, for example, the Microsoft certification programs. No doubt, Microsoft makes very nice money from selling the materials for a high price and charging thousands of dollars for the certification itself. But that means that the professionals lose this money, and their clients lose this money too because they have to compensate these expenses. Does the presence of certification mean that its owner really knows something about the subject? I doubt it very much. I do not have much respect for the people I know who have this certification. I would not recommend them for any job requiring any intelligence. They are most enthusiastic about getting these certificates.

I also have experience from another side. It happened that I got a Novell NetWare Administration certificate. Does that make me a good NetWare administrator? I doubt it. Attending the courses gave some interesting knowledge. And I’m probably not a really bad NetWare administrator, at least I have seen a number of worse ones. But that’s not because of this certificate but because UNIX administration and NetWare administration have things in common and most of the time I’m able to figure out or quickly find in the manuals the details I don’t know, based on the basic knowledge I have. And yes, I would recommend the same caution when hiring the bearers of Novell certificates as for Microsoft certificates, or any other certificates, such as CISCO or HP or Oracle.

Based on all this experience, my opinion is: “Certification Considered Harmful.”

Update: On a side-note… I did pass my LPI-201 exam… 1 more to go for LPIC-2 certification