The problems with Certification Programs
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There are several types of professional certification programs in the world
today, be it in engineering, construction, auto repair, medicine, etc.
Basically, certification is saying the holder is proficient in a specific
subject and should be recognized as a legitimate professional. To the holder,
certification looks good on a resume and, thereby, is useful for generating more
income. To the customer, certification instills confidence that the holder
theoretically knows what he or she is doing. Such programs are supposed to
define the level of competency needed to perform certain tasks and means the
holder is intimate with specific methods, tools and techniques needed to perform
the work. It is also not unusual for certifications to be renewed periodically
to assure the holder is staying abreast of industrial developments.
However, not all certification programs are created equally and many are not
worth the paper they are printed on. Two things bother me about certification:
when it becomes too easy to obtain one, and if the certification is based on
I've seen some programs where a person is awarded certification simply for
signing the attendance roster for a class or seminar (and then quietly slips
away for a round of golf). It shouldn't be a matter of merely attending a class,
but if you truly learned something which, of course, should mean passing a test
of some kind. The validity of certification is dubious if it only requires
signing your name and answering an open book test. All it means is that the
holder knows how to read and write.
I have seen some certification programs based on plain quackery, particularly
in the I.T. industry. It is one thing to demonstrate proficiency in a particular
programming language or technology, quite another when it comes to theories of
management, systems or any area lacking standardization. In other words,
certification should be based on science, not art. The difference between an art
and a science is subtle but significant. An art form is based on the
intuitiveness of the person performing the work, something that is difficult, if
not impossible, to pass on to another human being. For example, apprentices
serving under an artist may try for years to emulate the master, but may never
attain his level of skill and creativity. In contrast, a science is based on
tried and proven concepts and facts and, as such, can be easily taught to
others. Certification, therefore, should be based on science, not art. Any
certification program Without a set of standard and proven principles is
It should be no small wonder why I am skeptical of someone claiming to be
certified in a particular field of endeavor. It might sound nice, but I still
want to determine if the person is truly competent before they perform a service
for me. I consider such things as: what they know, what experience they have,
how rigorous was the testing for their certification, and the integrity of the
institution issuing the certificate.
Just remember, certification programs are big business. True, there are
legitimate certification programs out there, but there are also some that are
nothing more than marketing ploys. Does all this mean I frown upon certification
programs? Absolutely not. I'm just saying, "caveat emptor" and challenging the
institutions to be less frivolous in how they are issued.
Keep the faith!
Copyright © 2010 Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of
M. Bryce & Associates
(MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the
management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2010-02-12 04:00:50 in Computer Articles