Keeping current on certs: It's an age-old problem

Certifications present the eternal problem of what to do to keep them up to date. Once the most important certification to have, Novell's CNE still exists. This Classic Tip shows what you had to do at the turn of the century to keep your CNE certification current. See how some things haven't changed.

The Classic Tip from this week comes from our NetWare TechMail dated March 24, 2000 and concerns keeping your CNE certification current:


If you're a Certified Novell Engineer and plan to update your

certification using Course 529, NetWare 4.11 to NetWare 5 Update, be

advised that there are additional reading materials not included with

the student manual.

These materials are Web accessible. Be sure to download and study them

because the test for Course 529 covers objectives from both the student

manual and the supplementary material. You can download the material

from the Novell Education Web site.


Check out the Novell Education Web site for help in determining your

upgrade path.

In the 80's, the certification to have was Novell's CNE. Although not the first professional certification available, the CNE was the certification that probably got the whole certification vs. degree discussion going. By the turn of the century, momentum had switched to the ubiquitous MCSE. Today, it's the CCIE and others.

Novell had the whole certification business down to a fine science by the end of the 80's and early 90's. This tip illustrates how even Novell's well-oiled certification machine had a few glitches in it. It wasn't always easy to keep the certification exams and materials available and included in student kits.

Novell still offers the traditional CNE certification. Reflecting its emphasis on Linux, there are also several Linux certifications available as well. Novell's Certification Web site contains the full list.

As you can tell however, once you get on the certification merry-go-round, it's hard to get off. Keeping certifications current is a problem that presents itself continually. It will be just as much of a hassle in the 2010's and 2020's as it was in the 1980's and 1990's.


I have always pursued certification based on the technologies I am working with at the time. I find that certification-geared study helps to formalize knowledge I obtain thru practical experience. When I have been involved in hiring, I have looked at certifications as a means to ensure 'standard' knowledge. There are so many people in our industry who have learned 'on the fly', and have become quite capable, but have also developed unique habits and lexicons. 'Standard' ways of doing things and lexicons for documenting them are quite reassuring in the long run. Certifications also test some of the conceptual knowledge that many techs get to overlook in specific work environments but may become relevant in new situations. I have never found it hard to discern the 'boot-campers' from the experienced techs with certification.


There are many opinions on certification however, IMHO most of them aren't worth the paper they are printed on. Doing things from memory was never something I aspired to do which is what most tests force you into. I believe in learning the fundamentals of how a specific system works and rely on my own ability to adapt as technology evolves. This is my 40th year of programming, configuring, securing, installing and managing various computers and networks. Obviously things have changed radically since this humble beginning of writing programs on a teletype. I believe memorizing any system may make you an expert in that current technology however it will change and you must advance with the times. I'm not convinced certs really do that much except that some companies won't let you into the HR door without them.

John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro
John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro

As a former NetWare administrator, I thought about getting a CNE several times. I never could justify the cost of the classes and the exams however. By the time the MCSE became popular, I had the same internal struggle. I ultimately decided that Microsoft had enough of my money. I decided to stick with my bachelor's and years of experience rather than the traditional certs. Whether it was the correct decision or not is hard to tell. There have to be some old CNE and MCSE's floating around TechRepublic that can share their views of the certification programs Novell and Microsoft had in the past and have today.


At my company, we offer weekly online training sessions on product features at no cost to our customers and partners. This enables our clients to keep up on new functionality and enhancements so that renewing their certification on our product is not a daunting task. Keeping your knowledge current through ongoing practical demonstrations instead of last minute study is good advice to help you advance with the times!


same problem with me. 20+ years in the IT business. I actualy went and got the basic CNA and MCP. now that they are 5 years or more old they are either expired programs or should be updated. but yet i still work on all the lastest server software. i really dont feel like taking all the exams and reading tons of books just to pass another exam and be good for a few more years. i found that some community colleges offer some real good novell and micorsoft classes that help better then books and exam tests.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

I did NT3.51 admin in 96 and sql2005 admin in 2007 for instance. Certainly there was a lot more detail in the more recent material, but I think I struggled more with the earlier one. Some of that will be me, coming from a mainframe background. Some with a much greater experience of the the windows way. Some from the fact that I was using SQL server from 96 as well. :p I think you'd have to get a few hundred people from the planet Zarg, or may be a newly found amazonian tribe and do a study. There was lot they had to teach way back when that be taken as a given now. The picture on the desktop is what you click on, this is a mouse etc.. I remember when I first saw windows, thinking this will never catch on it's too foreign to the way we've always done things. :D

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