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Certification High School

By Steve Jones,

Dunbar High School It seems that Microsoft certifications are becoming worth less and less all the time. And I'm not sure what should be done, other than to fundamentally revamp the way they are built, or even viewed.

When I started in this business, the Certified Network Engineer (CNE) from Novell, was the certification many IT people I worked with strived for. It required a number of tests, and was hard. You had to study, and really learn about how the Novell Network Operating System worked. You took tests, which were multiple choice, but they really stretched the boundaries of your knowledge in many cases. Mostly, I think, because at the time there were few resources with which to "cheat" on the exams, and a lack of practice tests available.

These days I think we face a different problem because I believe that companies pay people to take the exams and then come out right away and disclose questions to them. There is also a group of people that think they're helping others by disclosing specific information about the exam. I understand that it feels communal to do so, but you are hurting the person (they don't learn the knowledge) and yourself (your effort is de-valued). However your friend, or Internet pen-pal  got a job, so you don't care.

Now it seems that classes are being offered in this high school with the goal of teaching kids about technology and helping them get certified. On one hand this devalues the certifications further with so many people getting them without experience. However maybe it's not so bad, maybe being able to memorize a bunch of information about technology isn' t that bad, and could be considered the lowest bar on which to hire someone.

In one way I think this is a type of vocational education, similar to kids that learn carpentry, auto mechanics, or some other skill in high school. They aren't considered experts, but they are considered ready for a basic job.

Perhaps that's the way most certifications should be viewed. As a basic, entry level certificate that can help you get started in a particular field.

Steve Jones


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