[Scottish] Certification

Colin McKinnon scottish at mailman.lug.org.uk
Mon May 19 23:21:01 2003

Gav wrote:

>Now that it looks like I'll be gainfully employed again soon, I'm
>thinking again about certification. Who amongst us is Linux
>certified and has it brought any particular advantages?
Brainbench certificates aside (let's not go there again) - not me!

(congrats Gav, will this be a paying job? - it looks like I might have 
found a job too so at least I'm not unemployed now - more gossip in due 

OTOH I used to employ people and rub shoulders with other employers. 
Wearing that hat.....

In my experience certification is kind of a strange fish (it doesn't 
really prove IT skills, but getting a Microsoft / Cisco / Novell 
interview without the relevant cert is a nogo). Most businesses still 
view Linux as a strange fish. So to get certified in Linux would be like 
strange ^2 fish.

Certainly there doesn't seem to be One True Linux Certification - like 
distro's, I think this is a mostly a good thing. Other people may 
disagree. The one area where I think plurality is not a benefit is where 
you want to get a recognisable brand stamped on your CV.  Is this what 
you want from certification? Employers often like putting their staff 
through it as it provides an easily measured benchmark of capability. Or 
are you interested in the education aspect of the processes?

IIRC from Tony's talk on the subject, the only mainstream, vendor 
neutral Linux certification is LPI (Linux Professional Institute) and he 
made the point that, since industry seems to command certification, we 
should endorse Linux certification by participating.

OTOH AIR you know your way around a Linux box - unfortunately this may 
not stand you in good stead as you may have to trudge through a lot of 
learning materials most of which you may know inside out to fill in the 
gaps. And there's also the possibility that you will see a different (or 
even better) way of solving a problem that the examiner did not account 
for in his/her marking plan.

So oddly enough (perhaps) if I were in your boots I'd look at Cisco 
certification (which in addition to teaching you how to configure a very 
expensive router does cover a lot of interesting network theory - and is 
available as a free course for unemployed people from the Govan 
Institute). Another one I would consider is the Sans Institute 
(www.sans.org) program - which is primarily concerned with security (I 
quite fancied this one and was in the process of convincing my boss that 
it was a good idea when both our career prospects took a nose dive). And 
let's not forget the MCSE - having spent the last couple of months in 
battle with employment agencies is worth remembering that not all the 
people between you and that job necessarily know as much as they should 
about IT (the stories I could tell!) but Microsoft have done a wonderful 
job of publicizing this qualification.

Certification aside - I'd strongly recommend anyone trying to find a job 
in IT be able to produce tangible evidence of their skills
    - keep your own website looking nice and working properly
    - contribute to an open-source project
    - research and write a report (or even a book!)