posted 19 years ago
I'd say the answer is very much "it depends." What I mean is, there are some companies that value certifications highly, including some that may require certain certifications before they'll even consider hiring you. On the other hand, there will be companies where certifications mean nothing. I've even heard of rare cases where certain hiring managers took a negative view of people with certifications.
In general though, I'd say that certifications stand to help you with your career. The thing to realize is, they are just one (small) piece of a much larger puzzle, where the puzzle is you. When you are in a dialogue with a potential employer, they will look at many factors... your education, your experience, your certifications, your salary demands, how you're dressed for the interview, your personality, etc, etc. etc. So, a certification might not mean much **by itself**, but it is a factor that's usually weighted as a positive.
So, if you're competing with another candidated for a job, and he has some advantage over you, but you have SCJP (or something else) your certification might help "even the score" so to speak, or even tip the odds in your favor.
I think the key point(s) to realize about certification are:
1) certifications are best used as a supplement to experience, and are not a substitute for experience.
2) BUT, re: 1) above... if you're applying for an entry level job, where all the candidates have no (or low) experience, your certification might actually be very important.
3) regardless, certifications are not a panacea. They don't guarantee you a certain job, certain salary, or whatever. They're just one more way for you to make yourself more attractive to an employer.
4) Ultimately, certifications / degrees / experience / etc. are all just things you put on your resume, which is an advertisement for yourself. And resumes don't get jobs, interviews do. That is, the point of the resume is just to get yourself in the door, for a face to face interview where you can sell yourself. So if you're a terrible interviewer, or show up for an interview dressed like a hobo, you may not get a job regardless of how many degrees and certificates you have.
5) as some other commenters have pointed out... certifications have value beyond the impact they have on your resume. I have found that studying for certifications helps me to gain a better understanding of the subject, which ultimately makes me better at doing my job. I actually try to look at the studying for a certification as a chance to study a given subject intensely for a while, and master it... with the actual certification just an added bonus.
So yes, I think there are very valid reasons for pursuing SCJP, etc. Just don't have unreasonable expectations for what the certification will mean for you in terms of jobs / salary / advancement / whatever.
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