“I am pro training and pro certification.” That is about all I had time to say during a career panel discussion at BSides Chicago. Let’s flesh out a little detail on the blog.
First, training is an integral component of being professional. Professional sports stars don’t just show up for games. We need practice to win. We need sustained practice, organized practice, and practice outside of our normal day-to-day duties. That is the only way to know exactly what to do before doing it.
Second, training increases productivity. By dovetailing training with active projects, people can train and immediately apply what they learn. In a positive feedback loop, people’s experiences then drive the focus of the training.
Third, managers with training programs need metrics. Obvious metrics are productivity (changes per x) and quality (failed changes over successful changes). Perhaps less obvious, certifications are ideal because the metric is widely accepted, unbiased, universal, and requires little managerial overhead.
Certifications by themselves can be worthless. However, certifications with experience are invaluable. At the panel, someone brought up the saying that “certifications simply mean you worked for a company with a training budget.” By combining job duties with job training and certification, a person can build one heck of a strong technical talent.
Elizabeth Martin (@elizmmartin), one of the panelists, adds: “I agree completely with all of your above comments. One thing I failed to communicate in the panel is the value of the education associated with certifications. If we view certifications in the spirit of their intent as opposed to the letter (e.g. the letters after your name) there is tremendous value in actually learning.”