Getting certified: Is it really necessary?

If you have been working in IT for a number of years, it is quite possible that your skills exceed your paper qualifications. Often we take certification long after we have learned and deployed the skills, so why do we bother? Certifications are extremely expensive and time-consuming and there is often no increase in rewards for gaining them.

Our company, with the ever changing market place, has to re-align its product range and the emphasis is changing from electromechanical machines to more IT based solutions. In the past all our field engineers have been genuinely highly skilled engineers who can actually fit C-clips and springs without firing them across the room, or manage not lose vital but tiny woodruff keys!

Sadly, the products are beginning to leave these skills behind and our workforce is being required to retrain and qualify for Comptia A+ and N+ certification. Although the A+ certificate is more to do with PC architecture and operating systems than software support it is felt that it is better to offer our customers engineers with a certification that demonstrates a reasonable level of competence with PCs.

The N+ is required because some of our new products are network connected terminals that allow members of the public the opportunity to complete postal transactions without the need to queue at the counter.

Whilst these do not require a huge amount of networking skills, it is good to use people who understand what they are doing and knowledge makes it a lot easier to resolve problems if there is something wrong. It is also useful for the customer to see that the people doing the work are properly trained.

The problem we are going to face is getting buy in from the engineers. Many have worked for the company for many years and continue to support a lot of the older style equipment. Whilst it still works and while our fairly conservative customer base continues to do business as they have done for years there will be a continuing but diminishing need for that kind of support. It will die out eventually and when it does we need to be ready for the next generation of work. That is the real issue.

Does the change in technology present any problems in your workplace?