This feature first appeared in the Summer 2016 issue of Certification Magazine. Click here to get your own print or digital copy.
One of the great philosophical conundrums of our age is the problem of the chicken and the road. But what if we could just ask the chicken? We don't have to wonder, for example, why IT professionals get a certification. Most tech workers seek certification either to bolster their earning power, or to gain or refine job skills. The total picture, of course, usually involves other elements.
Many virtualization professionals, for example, are looking down the road a bit. Asked to name the two most important benefits of getting a certification other than its impact on salary and education, 47.1 percent of survey respondents said they want to become better qualified for a future job.
Which doesn't mean that everyone has one eye on LinkedIn or Dice while studying for the exam. A strong 41.2 percent said certification can improve one's ability to perform in a current job, while 20.6 percent said certification betters the odds of getting a workplace promotion.
Given that virtualization is a leading-edge technology, it's not surprising that many (35.3 percent) view certification as a means of gaining greater access to technical data. Other popular reasons to certify include the self-bettering rationale of becoming more confident (38.2 percent), and the peer-driven impulse of gaining prestige and recognition among colleagues (32.4 percent).
Past salary surveys have generally shown that IT professionals believe prior work experience is the biggest factor in getting hired for an IT job. That's also true in the virtualization realm, with those surveyed rating experience first, followed by (in order) certification, professional networking and education.
To further clarify the impact on hiring of certification, we asked survey respondents to estimate how influential certification was in getting them hired to do their current job. About 15 percent think certification was probably not a factor, but that's a minority view. A noteworthy 28.2 percent said certification was very influential, while the remaining 56 percent said it was either influential (30 percent) or somewhat influential (26.2 percent).
Whatever its role in getting you on the company payroll, certification training can have a big impact on job performance. A considerable 39.1 percent of those surveyed said they use skills learned or enhanced through certification several times a day, while 44 percent rely on their certified skills either several times a week (20 percent) or several times a month (23.9 percent).
Very few respondents feel that virtualization certification is useful in the workplace only occasionally (12.9 percent) or rarely (3.8 percent).
That's not all, however, that you can expect to gain from certification. A shade less than 75 percent of those surveyed either agree (37.5 percent) or strongly agree (37.3 percent) that becoming certified has increased their problem-solving skills, while 74 percent either agree (39.1 percent) or strongly agree (34.8 percent) that certification has increased their workplace productivity.
Finally, whether or not certification played in role in getting you hired at your current job, it is likely to make your résumé more attractive the next time that you go out looking. Nearly 80 percent of those surveyed either agree (37 percent) or strongly agree (41.3 percent) that becoming certified has bumped up the demand for their skills.
TABLE TALK : Do you prefer to use self-study materials when training for certification? Would you rather take a class from a live instructor?