Is there any value in product certification

I was prompted to write this by some recent conversations and news items about product certifications. Microsoft recently announced that they were ending their top level certification scheme. A more interesting certification process was the story about beer!

We have MQ product certifications. You can become a certified designer or administrator. But what’s the value of that? Is there any value?

My personal view is that there is close to zero practical benefit to getting these accreditations.

I used to help design and set these certification tests. Back then, getting certification might have showed some real knowledge. We designed the tests so that it should be impossible to pass them without having had real hands-on experience. We had someone specific in mind – let’s call him Bob – who we believed should not be able to get through the process. So when writing questions we said “could Bob get this right? Could Bob simply find the answer in the documentation?” If the answer was yes, then that question was rejected.

But various things changed behind the scenes, and there was a desire to be able to offer classes at the end of which you could pass the test. With no real-life experience required. along with some other changes to the process, I decided not to continue participating in the question-setting at that point. The tests also started to get far too far behind the shipping products.. Today, you can be certified on MQ V7.0. But what might have been true or “best practice”  at that point, may well be wrong with MQ V7.1 or V7.5.At one point we were trying to have new tests available very soon after the GA of a new product; that has clearly declined.

Although sites like mqseries.net try not to answer test questions directly, it’s not always obvious when someone is asking for an answer to these tests. A friend who did continue to help design tests even got notes from candidates “please send me the answers” which he rejected of course. But it seems that you can still find answers to test questions if you look.

As a personal validation for your own satisfaction, of course it could be worth doing, just like completing the crossword or a tricky sudoku. You know whether or not you have cheated, and it only affects your conscience.

But I would not take an assertion of certifcation to be a reliable indication of product skills, and would not consider it useful when looking to employ someone.

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2 thoughts on “Is there any value in product certification

  1. Luc-Michel Demey

    hello Mark,

    Some comments on my personal vision of the technical certification.

    In 1998, when I got my first MQSeries certifications, few people or employers find it is important.

    As years passed, they realized that they needed a way to validate the skills of a candidate on a technology. Certification is one of those ways, and I found that having a technical certification on a product was a way of a to be credible candidate.

    Certification is not a guarantee of skills in a technology, but it proves that the holder knows a little more than 15 minutes can make reading about it on Google.

    At the same time certification was increasingly recognized, appeared on the market responses vendors, which for a few dollars offer to provide the answers to individual certification test. The price of success ?

    I do not think it is advisable to try technical certification after training. But providing a voucher to try this certification within 6 months after training can make sense.

    To fight against the responses vendors, the solution is to have questions change frequently or have at least 4 sets of questions available in the same time. I understand that it consumes a lot of resources and is not easy to implement.

    By cons, it is unfortunate that the current certification does not cover MQ versions 7.1 and 7.5, while many customers migrate to these levels, and that there are intéressanets questions to ask (CHLAUTH , multi -instance , multi- installation MQTT , … ).

    Reply
    1. Lyn Elkins

      At this point I do not agree that it proves that the holder knows how to google. I saw a posting on Linked in and sent this comment to my management:

      I saw this posting on LinkedIn

      Can Any one help me in knowing the major difference between WMQ 6, 7 and 8….Even MB 6,7 and 8
      2 months ago

      The poster is a Certified MQ Administrator.

      Apparently in this example the poster not only does not know the products he has successfully certified in, he cannot google.

      This is only one example of many. MQSeries.Net, the MQ listserver, and of course LinkedIn are rife with examples. MQSeries.Net tends to weed them out because the responders can be quite cruel.

      Therefore I withdraw my statement that if I was 22 and new to the business product certification might mean something.

      Reply

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