IT certification and the value I got in it

October BSDMag

(EDITOR'S NOTE: "IT certification and the value I got in it" by Joshua Ebarvia originally appeared in the October 2010 edition of BSD Magazine)

After graduating college, I created an account for an online resume publishing site.

Upon creating my online resume, I stumbled on a field asking for IT certifications. At that point, I had nothing to type in that field. I wasn’t even aware that IT certification(s) would be something to put on a resume. So I left the field blank and completed my online resume.

A couple of years passed after my resume had been uploaded and I hadn't got any emails or calls from employers using the online resume publishing site. I think there’s something missing. I need to stand out and my resume should be browsed by potential employers for consideration in their job postings. I searched and looked at IT certifications from different vendors and technologies and I decided I would want to get one. Since the company I worked for uses different distributions of Linux, a certification in Linux must be the first I should get. I have used many resources studying the Linux systems, from online and printed materials to blogs and tutorials. I also used online practice tests to understand my familiarity and mastery of the topics. When I was ready, I signed up for LPI 101 examination and I passed it. Then I took LPI 102 and passed it too. So I was awarded with the LPIC-1 certification.

Upon receiving my certificate, I immediately updated my online resume to put my LPIC-1 in the IT certification field. After a few days, I received a couple of emails from the site, which contains a list of employers viewing my resume. Indeed my IT certification caught the attention of employers and I was now gaining value. I wasn’t satisfied with just one certification so I went on to take SCJP from Sun Microsystems. I passed the examination and updated my online resume.

As expected, I received emails about job postings. I also now get a lot of phone calls from employers saying that "We have viewed your online resume, would you like to consider an interview for the position.....?" This has been very fulfilling for me. Having a certification is very rewarding personally and professionally. It is some form of self-accomplishment. First of all, you learn a lot of things by studying, practising, and making your way through the exam objectives. For myself, I learned a lot from the preparations/reviews I did for my exams. The things I learned were not day-to-day topics. Instead, they were advanced topics ranging from the internals, concepts, and applications. I was a Linux user before my certification, and I became a Linux Power user after I achieved it.  The skills I learned from LPIC-1 were my very foundation for studying and using the FreeBSD operating system. Although Linux and FreeBSD have their differences, they have something in common, and that is their UNIX roots (made to act, and based on UNIX, respectively).  I read new study materials from time to time, as to keep my skills fresh. I know for a fact that one could get rusty if one does not use the skills gained. So being certified in one technology does not mean you are a master of that particular technology. One should update his/her skills by reviewing the topics and studying the advancements in that technology.

I’m looking forward to take the BSDA examination next. According to them, BSDA is only available at events and other conferences as they have not linked up with Prometric and VUE for exam delivery. I’m looking forward to make my skills and knowledge in FreeBSD go deeper and improve. And I hope one day, I could take the BSDA examination and pass it.

Certification alone is NOT enough (my personal opinion) to be productive and competitive. In today’s highly competitive market, you have to be highly skilled and experienced. Having certification(s) does not guarantee you will land a good high paying job, but it makes your chance higher than other job seekers. In my point of view, IT certification(s), proven skills, and experience are the pieces that will give you the edge in today’s job market.

Joshua Ebarvia is a java programmer, systems administrator and college lecturer. His passion is working and using operating systems specially UNIX-based and UNIX-cloned systems.