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About the Author
Nancy Cadjan is a technical writer for Novell, Inc. She has worked on documentation for such products as the Novell Client, Novell Internet Access Services, and NDS for NT.
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Chapter 3: Valuing Your Network + Certification
It appears that both the industry trend and employers' hiring preferences are moving toward certified IT professionals and away from non-certified IT personnel. This indicates that the Network+ Certification is likely to be a decisive factor in whether you get the job, the desired promotion, the pay raises, the benefits, and all of the other perks that go along with being a valued company professional. However, you need to determine for yourself whether the Network + Certification is worth your time and investment. You should be better prepared to make that decision after reading this chapter as it is designed to help you understand:
- The role of certification in today's job market
- The specific benefits of Network + certification
- How Network+ certification relates to other vendor-specific certification programs (like Microsoft's MCSE and Novell's CNE)
- How to use Network + certification to put your career at the forefront of the networking technology industry
Approximately 80 certification programs now test technical competency in areas such as networking, databases, enterprise resource planning (ERP), specific software packages, project management, and the Web. Certification is available both from vendors such as Microsoft or Novell and from industry trade organizations, such as CompTIA.
Although there have been no comprehensive, independent studies of the effectiveness and value of certification, several companies have conducted studies on sections of the IT industry and on specific certification programs.
For example, in studies such as those conducted by International Data Corp. and Southern Illinois University, which compared certified professionals to their non- certified counterparts, the certified professionals were rated more productive than their non-certified counterparts. These studies both examined Microsoft Certified Professionals (MCPs), and found that MCPS:
- Handled 30 percent more help desk requests than their non-certified counterparts
- Decreased IT department costs to employers by over $2,530 per server, per year
- Were rated by 84 percent of employers as being more productive than their non-certified counterparts, at least in their area of certification. In addition, almost a third of companies with certified employees stated that their certified employees were more productive in all areas, not just in their area of certification. Furthermore, the studies show that certification provides increased professional credibility and earning power, with companies paying an average of 20 percent more to individuals who are certified.
Nancy Lewis, general manager of training and certification at Microsoft, says, "Certification makes the difference. The independent studies reinforce the fact that both managers and IT professionals recognize the benefits of certification. Certification helps ensure that individuals are knowledgeable and have the complete portfolio of skills necessary to perform their jobs. In addition, certification is used by employers as one method for evaluating job candidates."
Rebecca Segal, director of services industry consulting at IDC says that the recent study confirms that companies with certified IT professionals experience greater productivity and lower server downtime. "This translates into significant cost savings to employers, which more than compensates for the training, testing and indirect costs associated with certification. The certification process is a win-win situation for both the employee and the employer."
The IDC study also demonstrates that the costs involved in certifying one employee are recouped in less than a year for a company with approximately 10 servers. A company with at least one certified employee saves over $10,000 in downtime costs per year based on an average II server company.
The trend seems to be clear - the IT profession is growing, and demand for IT professionals, specifically those with a proven track record and the certifications to show it, is high. What this means for you and certification is that certification has a definite role in the future of networking, and so do those who choose to acquire professional networking certification.
Certification from the IT Professional Perspective
In today's tight job market, IS professionals with the most sought-after skills may think that certification is not necessary because they possess the skills; since there is a shortage in IT professionals, some ask why they should even bother go through the trouble of getting certified. Certification can be an instant ticket to the best jobs, leading to increases in salary offers by as much as $ 10, 000, according to technical recruiters across the country. That makes certification worth the investment.
If you are thinking of becoming or currently are a consultant, then certification is something you need. It provides a tangible measurement you can use to justify billing rates. Osmundo Ray Fernandez, a Visual Basic consultant at Lucent Technologies, in Elizabeth, NJ sees "certification as a way of enhancing my marketability to both clients and employers. Employers feel more comfortable justifying a consultant's rate to a client or customer when the consultant has the academic background, work experience, and certification to back them up."
Certification goes hand-in-hand with experience. You need to have experience, but you cannot hang your experience on the wall. Certification becomes a visible symbol that you know your stuff. Liz Alexander, director of IS at Gardenburger, Inc. in Portland, Ore., underscores this opinion. "If I'm going to hire a consultant, I would expect to see that they are certified - it's like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval."
Certification from the IT Employer Perspective
The most common use of certification tests is to screen potential employees or prospective consultants. "We want an objective assessment and measurement of where a candidate sits among their peers," says Karen Frey, director of recruiting at Ciber, a large information systems consulting company in Englewood, CO. Businesses like certification because it has reduced the number of employees who are terminated for inadequate technical skills. It helps companies better match consultants to projects and makes it possible for a company to bring on less experienced, junior people with the confidence that they can do the job.
Certified employees bring a high level of skill and confidence to a job. Prudential Insurance Company of America, believes that "having highly skilled people really improves the performance of the organization," according to Anthony Costa, vice president of IS. "Certification is a cornerstone of a skilled workforce."
The benefits of certification directly affect the company's bottom line in terms of service costs. Studies have shown that certified professionals, bring cost savings and efficiencies to their organizations.
For example, Rich Dellisante, director of Prudential's IS training and development says "Because we have certified people on our staff, one of our outside service providers has reduced our maintenance charges significantly. We are hoping some of our other key providers will consider doing the same." Certification and the confidence that a company has competent employees makes a great cost-saving difference.
A 1995 survey conducted by International Data Corp. in Framingham, MA., and sponsored by Drake Prometric, IBM and Microsoft Corp., indicated several positives for companies with certified IS professionals. in particular, the study found that companies that supported certification had server downtime half as long and half as expensive as others'. Costs for certification are usually recouped in less than nine months.
However, there are other ways in which certification has become an important part of business. Employers may find that offering potential employees the opportunity to become certified is an excellent hiring incentive. For companies competing for employees, this may be what they need to attract people to the company (see Figure 3.1).
In several recent articles on the growing need for more networking professionals, employers and employees alike commented that money is rarely the primary reason to take or leave a job. IT professionals are looking for a challenge, a job that lets them grow. These articles often cited training and certification as a way to attract and keep talented networking professionals. "Training lets employees increase their skills and gives employers a more skilled workforce. And for companies that aren't able to compete with the sky-high salaries some IT professionals command, training can help compensate for a lower-than-market salary offer."
Paul Lemberg, principal of Lemberg & Co., in San Diego says, "If you compete with your training benefit, that's smart. Not only are you giving people the benefit they want, you're getting better-quality people."
Mark Moerdler, senior vice president at MDY Advanced Technologies, a networking and systems integration company in Fair Lawn, NJ says that "People get turned on when they hear that there's a lot of training going on in the organization."
Certification from the Perspective of Industry Associations
As a simple Internet search will confirm, more and more associations are offering one or more certifications for IT professionals. Most of these associations will tell you that certification is necessary to protect customers and the profession....
Table of ContentsBecoming a Network+ Certified.
Evaluating Trends in the IT Industry.
Valuing Your Network+ Certification.
Working as a Network Professional.
Using the Examination Blueprint to Prepare for the Network+ Certification Exam.
Studying for the Certification Test.
Assessing Your Level of Networking Knowledge.