Recently at my place of employment there has been much to do about “Continuing Education” with regards to professional IT workers and specifically when it comes to certifications. Many of the grumblings I often hear are thing of the nature:
– I don’t know why I need do this; I know how to do my job!
– I passed the exam, why do I have to do more “stuff”?
– This is just a racket of the certification company.
The list could go on, but I think you all get the gist of the overarching thoughts I have heard. While I can understand their frustration with having to find time to not only do the continuing education, but document it properly with your employer and certification company.
Let’s look at why Continuing Education is important:
1. IT is always changing. What you learned even as recently as a year ago can be completely out of date and superseded today.
2. Standards. Continuing Education is required by American National Standards Institute and International Organization for Standardization. Why do these organizations require it? Simple, it ensures that certified professionals keep up with the latest changes in field.
3. Would you really want someone who was certified in 1995 and has no evidence of actually being current with the technology being used now? Continuing Education is how this is accomplished. This process is used is a myriad of fields outside of IT. Notable examples of careers with Continuing Education requirements are Medical Professionals, Teachers, Legal, Engineers, and Architects.
4. Continuing Education sets you a part from your peers! It can introduce you to new technologies that will make doing your job as an IT Professional easier, faster, or better.
5. It helps the business bottom line. While you might be away from the work center to get the training, your bringing back skills that can assist in reducing the cost of running your IT center or find new software or procedures that make your business process more efficient and cost effective.
6. Even the most rigorous certification’s requirement for Continuing Education still only works out to be just under 4 hours a month with most being about 1 hour. Most certifications run in a three year cycle for recertification with Continuing Education with requirements of anywhere from 20 to 120 credits/units of Continuing Education in that time frame. While 50-120 may seem daunting, when broken down in to monthly quotas, it is not only “doable” but completely realistic.
7. Certifications with Continuing Education requirements mean higher salaries! Yes, they do have annual maintenance fees that can go up to $100 a year per certification, but the certifications are often gateways to higher salaries. Data shows that having a current certification can raise your pay by $5,000. Higher level certifications like CISSP can increase your salary as much as 10-15%!
Here is a sampling of some common certifications that was published by Global Knowledge and TechRepublic in 2010.
CCNA – Cisco Certified Network Associate … $79,695
MCP – MS Certified Professional … $74,438
MCSE – MS Certified Systems Engineer … $86,454
MCSA – MS Certified System Administrator … $76,337
CompTIA – Network+ … $70,902
CompTIA – A+ … $68,631
CompTIA – Security+ … $76,844
CISSP – Cert Info Sys Security Professional … $99,928
CCNP – Cisco Certified Network Professional … $89,864
VMware Certified Professional … $91,271
MCITP – MS Certified IT Professional … $82,044
CCDA – Cisco Certified Design Associate … $93,953
MCDST – MS Certified Desktop Support Technician … $70,197
8. It is a condition of employment. While many IT Professionals may have opted to keep their “For Life” certification, it is becoming more and more common for employers to require certifications that have Continuing Educations requirements. Whether it is to meet their own compliance standards or because they find value in having someone that is constantly abreast of the latest IT trends.
While Continuing Education can be painful if not properly managed, the benefits far exceed the detractors when weighted objectively against each other.