Certifications?

I’m curious how people feel about getting cloud certifications? I have mixed feelings myself.

Managers, how do you feel about seeing the certifications on a resume? Should they be required? Is there a certain point in your career where they don’t matter as much?

Everyone, how about seeing certificates in a company signature in email? On this one, I personally think that it’s possible to have too many in your signature.

Thoughts?

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I think they have value depending on the context.

For instance, when hiring for a non-technical position (sales or marketing) in a tech organization I always appreciate candidates with some certification. It shows a willingness to learn about the industry, gives credibility to the individual and helps them better understand the technical people they interact with.

I think that on the other hand, having too many certifications as an engineer comes across as bragging, I personally would not advertise that in the email signature, I would probably advertise the most significant (or recent?) ones on LinkedIn.

It is also important to mention that a certification does not necessarily reflect skillset, ability to resolve problems, being a good teammate, or other strengths that are usually more important than the ones required to acquire a certification.

@marykay25, what are the good reasons to get a cloud certification?

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One good reason for me, is that as a woman in tech, I added a cert to my email signature when dealing with people outside of the organization. There is a lot of assumption that since I am a woman, I’m not technical. But to be honest, I’ve never been one to chase a cert. They are too hard to keep up with and usually I switched technology focus too often to keep it up.

Example, started studying for a Solaris cert, then changed to a Linux focus job, then studying that and went to VMWare, now it’s AWS/Azure/GCP. Just too much to try to recert on every 2 years.

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@marykay25 you raise a great point about how certificates and titles can help to level-set people that you’re interacting with.

I wouldn’t put a cloud certification as a “must-have” on any job description. Are certifications a signal on a resume / profile? Sure, they tell me that the person had the time, money, and opportunity to get certified (possibly all sponsored / required by their employer). They don’t tell me whether the person was interested, what they learned from the process of preparing, or what they learned from actually using whatever it is they’re certified in.

For me, the certifications that I’ve been able to do have been a great way to self-motivate and learn about how the technologies and services are supposed to work, but hands-on experience has been far more useful in teaching me how they actually work. I’d rather have a conversation about what someone has built or what they are interested in building any day!

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I felt this in my bones! Even with credentials and a reputation I’m still sometimes categorized as being non-technical.

For my certs I’ve always kind of used them as a “proof” feature that I know something of what I’m talking about. They’re never the first thing I bring up, and I don’t have them listed on my resume. I try to let my non-certificate accomplishments shine and I use the certificates as an “oh yeah, I also obtained this certificate as well” type thing. Because, you’re right, as a women we so often have to prove ourselves again and again. Not everywhere, but it happens frequently enough that it’s good to have an arsenal prepared for sure.

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I feel your pain!!!

Personally, I think certifications does not mean anything anymore these days to verify that you know something, but for many companies is still the main way to “verify” if each employee has the adequate knowledge to the role, in many cases is about get an “Insurance” that you are hiring the right person, but this is changing (slowly) and I believe at some point your “resume” could be anything… your npm packages, your GitHub account and etc… not only specific paid certifications.

I’m still have some certs in my resume and my Linkedin, on every chance I got, I tried to replace with OSS projects and things that I can reuse and forever will be under my control to improve and changed if needed, like blog posts talking about a specific cloud technology, I think has a lot more value than just a cert.

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Everyone has such good thoughts around this topic. I am thinking that everyone here is much more established in their technical journey than I am currently. So from the point of view of a person whose resume you all would be looking at, I can tell you what it is like.

I have heard all of this same talk before that certifications don’t matter much and all of the other stuff matters more, yet I still feel the pressure to have to get a certification. It went from hearing all the time that certifications aren’t the main focus to a company-wide push to have every technical person Solutions Architect certified.

I have about a year and a half of work experience and I can put that on my resume but I know that if I want to get a job I stand out more now that I have the Solutions Architect certification. I learn more from the people around me than I do with the certifications but I feel like they are still very required!

I have also @marykay25 and @bnwoods many times been called not technical because I am a woman so I’m glad to know I have something to back me up. lol. Also @felipecosta I love the idea of showing some projects instead of certifications. Do you think that is harder to do with networking-type stuff? For writing code it seems like it would be easier. Any ideas on how you could do that with building architecture? Also is it more or less expensive than getting a certification? I would be interested in thoughts around this.

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Up to this point, I’ve focused my certification efforts in areas of focus. I started my DevOps career in Chef, so that was the first certificate I held. Its cost was far less than the cloud certifications. My next certificate was in AWS with the AWS Cloud Practitioner. That was was $200 I think. My next will be in Azure Fundamentals (because that’s the space I’m focused on now). I think from the standpoint of being early in your career there would be value to get a cloud certification and maybe some infra as code badges like for Terraform or something if you’re interested in architecture. Often specific technologies have badge programs you can leverage for free or very cheap.

Having just a cert in given areas can back up the knowledge you have and be a foot in the door. I still don’t think it’s valuable to go all the way through the AWS cert chain for example. Sure, after you are established if you feel like adding to your cert repertoire that’s great, but at some point the overhead of keeping them all up to date doesn’t really pay off in terms of career progression.

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Hey @Tabs glad you liked the idea :slight_smile:

Platforms like GitHub you can do anything you like, of course, is more common to see anything related to code, but I think even for network-stuff related could be a good idea, it’s different.

Maybe could be a little more complicated since is not code, but I wouldn’t say hard. Maybe you can start building your “resume” on GitHub, you can use these projects:

It makes your CV looks cool and you can show your certifications/projects, I did some in my profile as well if you want to take a look: felipecosta09 (Felipe Costa) · GitHub

It’s free and all you need is time to write it down, but you can sponsor some of these projects if you want, which helps the creators to continue to do things like that.

Look at this example from Azure Architecture Center, they have a page on GitHub where you can check out all the best practices about different services architectures on Azure: Microsoft patterns & practices · GitHub

This could easily be your own projects in your GitHub account. Is this what you’re looking for?

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Thank you for all of the tips!!

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This is really cool! Thanks for sharing all of those resources. I will look over that stuff!

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This may be partially because companies have to have a certain number of employees certified to maintain a partner status.

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I tried that but every time I started that, I changed focus! LOL! I can’t tell you how many times I started studying, took a course maybe, and then BOOM focus shift!

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I seem to agree with all of the responses here.

Just like @Tabs I am also someone who is new to the IT world. As a newbie who is starting their journey it seems almost mandatory for me to have a cloud certification(s) to even get my resume glanced at and I feel that is totally understandable in my mind. I do not feel like it is a waste of time taking the exams either, since I was also starting from zero experience/background the certifications process helped me learn and understand the services deeper. While these exams allowed me to test my theoretical knowledge in the form of Q & A, I would much prefer the hands-on experience on a resume over the certification itself.

I do not think certifications should be the standard unless you do not have experience. I also agree with @felipecosta with utilizing your GitHub. I am just starting to build my repos/projects in GitHub just to show a little bit more of my creative side. Hopefully soon on to some articles.

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I’d love to have you, @jperkins, share more on what it took you to come from a non-IT background up to the point you have multiple GitHub projects :slight_smile:

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Absolutely, @raphabot

I would say how I became interested in programming came during my time in the medical field and a natural curiosity to understand how things are made and put together. The physician I was working for at the time created his own proprietary dictation software called VascuNote, essentially this allowed Surgeons to dictate during surgery rather than having to retain the information and document hours or even days later. During the surgeries he would try to improve his software with new features and I would make suggestions too. Eventually this led to him asking if I would be interested in making a video software for teaching medical students. At the time, I was just starting with my computer science programming courses. In case you were wondering I was unsuccessful in creating the app, but I did make the webcams activate and show video. My college courses did not really teach me how to code like I had hoped (Essentially the fundamentals like operations, lists, loops, and simple user I/O.), I heavily relied on instructional videos and trying to build programs I thought would be simple and manageable to do at the time, something with logic I already knew. I would build programs like a calculator, rock paper scissors, minesweeper and my personal favorite, Snake from the indestructible Nokia phone. Each time my programs compiled successfully was a morale boost pushing me to do something else.

I wanted to build and create but did not have the ability to start a project from scratch myself unless it was hello world or a calculator. I would fall back on google magic to find common projects/examples, this could range from GitHub to W3Schools. Testing and debugging as I write each line. This helped me in understanding what was happening as the code was being executed. I still do this method today as well with trying to learn boto3. For example, on the Trend GitHub was a previously created lambda webhook function to send notifications over to Slack. I wanted to learn how webhooks were done so I tested and researched the code for my understanding and started to make my changes for the source code to work with Microsoft Teams.
Coming into this new field has not been easy by any matter. I have made tons of terribly designed websites; my code has errored out more times than I can count but each time I learned a little more from my failures and monstrosities.

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Absolutely! I know companies need to have a certain number of certified people to have the partner status. It is understandable. Just saying that the pressure and need to get certifications is still there. This that you described is one reason why.

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I have felt the same way as @marykay25 in this shifting focus. It isn’t always easy to know which cert you should get and if you move roles often then your focus will change or if the company shifts focus then you will too? lol.

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Hopefully this is not too late for this conversation.

I only just got my very first certification ever after about 20 years in the industry because I always thought that showing the projects you worked on, and the endorsements and recommendations you get through sites like LinkedIn has more value than a long list of certifications and degrees.

However, both for the sake of finding the next great challenge and job prospects I’ve found that certifications seem to open up the field despite your experience if you measure it on the number of times your profile comes up in searches or calls you get.

I haven’t really worked on a portfolio in places like GitHub but that sounds like a nifty way of showing what you can do.

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Congratulations @atirado! You’re certainly not the only one to defer getting certified – I got my first industry certification about 20 years in as well!

I had previously thought there wasn’t much point, and only went for it after some prompting from some supportive colleagues. I learned that at least for the certifications I’ve done, a lot of value came from having a structure in which to place all the things I was learning, instead of just a giant blob of “well I learned a lot this week”.

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