Before you decide to pursue any certification you should really ponder the question, Why the heck do I want to get certified? <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Are you getting certified because you want a job in IT and you believe that certification is the only way to accomplish this goal? Are you sick of being overworked and underpaid at your current job and you are looking for an easier job or one with a higher salary? Is your employer pushing certification so that you qualify for a promotion or so that you keep your current job?
All these reasons perfectly valid. Each person pursues certification for his or her own
unique set of reasons and one person’s reasons are rarely better than another’s. Few people get certified merely for certification itself. Certification isn’t a recreational activity. Think about it. Nearly everyone who pursues certification is ultimately after something else. For many people it might be employment, job security, or better financial compensation. For others it might be career advancement or increased responsibility.
First, you should realize that nothing is wrong with having these “ulterior” motives. Once in a while you may find someone who claims, “Well, I don’t really need the cert and my employer doesn’t care about it, but I’m going to take the exam just for the heck of it.” Although this person might appear to have any ulterior motives, this probably isn’t true. In most cases, that person is seeking other more intangible rewards such as having knowledge of a product validated.
Second, you should understand the ultimate goals that you are seeking. Let’s say you want a job in IT and that’s why you are preparing for the exams. Now ask yourself whether passing the exams will guarantee that you get the job you desire. In most
cases, the answer to that question is a resounding no. You’ll need to do take other steps, such as putting together a resume, networking with others in the industry, identifying desirable employers, and locating job openings.
Instead of identifying desired outcomes (e.g., getting a job in IT) and doing all that they can do to achieve those outcomes, many people view certification as a magic wand that they can wave and automatically get everything they are looking for. Unfortunately, that is not the case. We’ve heard many people say, “I have an MCSE and a CCNA but I can’t seem to land a simple tech support job!” The question that they failed to ask before spending time and money getting certified is:
“Why the heck do I think that having an MCSE and a CCNA will get me the job I want?”
Clearly identify what you are trying to achieve through certification. Then ask yourself what actions you can take to reach this goal in addition to studying for the exams. Plan to spend a significant portion of time on other activities that will get you closer to your desired outcome. After all, you can’t study around the clock. By spending a few hours a week on these other activities you are more likely to achieve your goals and to do so more quickly.