My thoughts of certification in 2012

Last week, I was in San Antonio, TX, attending a 5-day course for implementing Cisco Wireless VoWLAN networks course, IUWVN of the CCNP Wireless track. I got the chance to learn how to implement Cisco VoWLAN, configure Cisco 2504 WLC’s, WCS and 7921 Wireless IP Phones for voice & video over WLAN, and a lot of the details in between. The week was great — weather was beautiful, our instructor was awesome with 20 years of RF experience from the US Marine Corps and I got to interact with a lot of other network pros. 🙂

For this blog post, I wanted to pose a question regarding certification in our industry…and specifically, how much certification is too much? When does it show technical proficiency, and when does it become a check box for Layer 8? Working for a Cisco Partner usually means that there are times that certifications are business requirements for maintaining Partner status and not necessarily technical requirements for designing, implementing and maintaining an enterprise network. What about the average network wizard?

With how much any modern business depends on the IT staff to keep the data flowing, certification can certainly be an annoyance or a chore. On any given exam, you may be asked any number of esoteric protocol details, or vendor-specific implementation and design guidelines (trust me when I say that Cisco is certainly not the only culprit) but usually you’re not tested on applying your real-world skills in the testing centers. In fact, sometimes the gear we work with everyday behaves in ways that flies in the face of the Cisco Manifesto (I’m looking at you, Catalyst 6500). I would imagine this to be the position of most of the networking gurus out there – we’re all busy enough maintaining our environments and keeping our users happy.

What does this mean for the network newbie such as myself? Certification will most definitely help getting the ever-crucial “foot in the door”. But while having “CCNA” on your resume or LinkedIn profile will help with recruiter keyword searching, it doesn’t just end there. You have to be able to prove to the IT Manager in the interview you can apply it to solve real-world problems or at least have the drive to soak up as much knowledge and experience to become a productive network admin.

Certification, for me, means that for this technology, I have a declaration that “I believe” in the Dogma of the Vendor. But its the time outside of exam cramming that is spent in lab and solving difficult problems that will actually prove that I can make it in this business.


2 Responses to My thoughts of certification in 2012

  1. Howdy just wanted to give you a brief heads up and
    let you know a few of the images aren’t loading correctly.
    I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it
    in two different web browsers and both show the same results.

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