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sundialsvcs 12-10-2012 11:00 AM

Friendly tip: how to put "certifications" in a proper career context . . .
When you graduate from high school or college after being continuously "in school" since age six, you are accustomed (much more than you realize) to the idea that: "your goal is to Pass The Test."

It should therefore come as no surprise to you that plenty of hawkers have written tests for you to take, and accompanied each one with a diploma that you can hang on your wall and permission to tack letters after your name. (Roughly equivalent to "Piled higher & Deeper = PhD.")

They make a lot of money doing this.

But the simple truth is: there is no Golden Ticket, except in Willy Wonka movies. There's nothing that you can do "to distinguish yourself" by stuffing your head full of arcane bits of how-to and showing that you can regurgitate them on a grade-school-esque "test."

You learn how to do this business by doing it. You have to put yourself into the greater context of a corporation who is using computer technology to do their daily work. More important to that end than "stuffing your head full of know-it-all" is that you learn how to find information, that you learn how to cooperate with others (even letting them appear "smarter" than you do), and that you always "measure twice and cut once."

Take this tip from someone who's been working with computers since well before the PC existed: the technology market changes constantly, while the business value of using a computer (and the basic ways by which it is put to use) changes little. The Linux world as you know it is even now being swept away by mobile devices. The market value of whatever-it-is you stuffed your head with to earn that piece of paper is, at most, three to five years before it basically will no longer apply. But the businesses that you work for will adapt to this change, having come to expect it and being willing to embrace it. So must you.

I'm openly skeptical of certifications because I see them leveraging what you're accustomed to ... "go make an 'A' on this thing" ... and championing the notion that the way to get ahead is to be The Smartest Kid In School. Not so. You're entering into a profession that changes itself every few years ... completely. "Book larnin'," as my great-aunt would say, "ain' worth much," and in any case it should not be the core-competency upon which you strive to hang your hat.

Certifications are a great source of concentrated subject-matter knowledge, expertly prepared. But they are just that ... training ... not a Golden Ticket. The value, if any value there be, lies not in having it, but getting it. "The journey is the reward."

onebuck 12-10-2012 11:39 AM

Member Response

Well stated! Too many think that getting a cert will open doors. Not so! Basically things boil down to the individuals understanding, knowledge and abilities to covey or relate to solving issues.

I am not saying that no one should get certs or advanced training. Just that one should consider the value of the education as to how the training will evolve to gainful employment. Not automatic!

Two great quotes;

"Knowledge is of two kinds. We Know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."- Samuel Johnson

"You must look into people as well as at them."-Chesterfield

sundialsvcs 12-10-2012 05:01 PM

And to that end, I will be very quick to say that I certainly do find "certification study guides" to be a useful, concentrated source of pragmatic knowledge. Especially when I find them on the remainders table at a clearance bookstore. I don't give a whit about the certification, but I do realize that professional instructional designers have thought a long time about what sort of things a practitioner in the field might genuinely need to know, and I always appreciate the heads-up.

What I'll usually do is to pick up several of them and skim them one against the other, thereby filtering out the vendor-specific stuff and looking mostly at the core lessons-learned. I'm particularly interested in finding material that goes to a level of technical know-how beneath "just install this-or-that package and be done," and also for good conceptual discussions.

The perceived market demand for certifications has definitely kept some top-notch instructional designers in gravy-n-biscuits, which is always a good thing. :) Information, well compiled and well presented, is always a good thing to keep on your bookshelf. And this, although not a "Golden Ticket," is a legitimately valuable information resource that's easy to come by. Especially on the remainders table.

onebuck 12-10-2012 05:25 PM

Member Response

That is one way to build a useful library. Over the years my library has grown, I do keep a few handy as desk copies while others find a place on the shelf.

I've got boxes of books stored that were given as desk copies to review for LABS. The ones that are useful find a place on a shelf while others go to storage(long list). LDP is a good online resource; Linux Documentation Project LDP Linux documents, FAQs. You can get all the documents you could ever need. Much is dated but still useful.

I do buy a book occasionally but it had better be top notch for me to shell out real money for technical references.

Really proud of fellow Slackware LQ members for their participation for the long over due: Slackware Doc Project

sundialsvcs 12-11-2012 08:59 AM


Originally Posted by onebuck (Post 4846596)
I do buy a book occasionally but it had better be top notch for me to shell out real money for technical references.

AFAIK, technical references have pretty much gone to Kindles and other forms of electronic-only publishing. O'Reilly also has an electronic option.

The problem with those books is that they simply don't sell. Most of them wind up being pulped, having struggled if at all to pay the $4,000-or-so advance that got paid to the author. (I don't know about you, but I'm not working on anything for years, for $4,000!) But electronic publication changes that picture completely. Now, the book is pure-software. Distribution costs are zero. And, as with all electronic books, the lion's share of the royalties (if any) now can go directly to the author. Even if the book now costs less than one-fourth what it did when printed on paper, the royalties are substantially bigger. (And if you want a print-on-demand copy, you can get one.)

onebuck 12-11-2012 11:30 AM

Member Response

Authors can self publish using 'eBook' now. Some books are better in print for me. I just purchased a Kindle FireHD for the wife, not something I would use. Even the iPad to me does not fit my uses for eBook or tech use. Got a small Android tablet and only use it on occasion. My Galaxy SIII is great but not to read on even with glasses. Just another device that fell into my pocket for a few $$.

You can still get most references in print for a price. I may start using one of the devices for reference but make slow changes. :)

Just like certifications that all will eventually be electronic distributed with a signed key. Printed material will be something of the past.

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