North American Network Operators Group

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Re: Certification or College degrees?

  • From: Stephen Sprunk
  • Date: Wed May 22 19:32:02 2002

Thus spake "Nigel Clarke" <[email protected]>
> Certifications are a waste of time. You'd be better off
> obtaining a Computer Science degree and focusing on the
> core technologies.

If you're looking to write software, sure.  A CompSci degree won't help you
in the slightest at operating networks.

> Why would you devote your career to learning a vendor's
> command line or IOS?

You don't.  You devote your career to learning networking.  IOS is a base
skill which is necessary (today) to utilize that knowledge and, more
importantly, get a job.

A person with lots of knowledge and no skills is a liberal arts major, not
an engineer.

> Cisco has done an excellent job @ brainwashing the IT
> community. The have (unfortunately) set the standard for
> "Network Engineers".
> What do you think is more respected, a masters degree in
> Networking Engineering or a CCIE. In most
> circles it would be the latter.

In the academic community, the former.  In the professional community, the

Academic respect doesn't pay the bills.

> Cisco's certification program has effected the entire IT
> community. Their CCIE's are required to recertify every few
> years, thus forcing them to stay true to the Cisco lifestyle.

No, they're required to stay knowledgeable with current technical advances
in the field.  That's hardly unreasonable.

> I've met some CCIE's who don't know any programming
> languages or any experience with Unix. It's clear that they
> are one dimensional and unfocused.

Unfocused?  People with a single skill set are usually considered "highly
focused".  Now, I find that folks with Unix experience tend to make better
networkers, but it's hardly a required skill.

> Why study the same thing over and over? Do you really have X
> amount of years experience, or do you have 1 years experience
> X times?
> Think about it. If you have been in the field for over 5
> years and someone new to the industry by way of certification
> can handle your work load, that is a serious problem.

That's not a problem with the certification; that's a problem with your lack
of initiative.  I don't think I've ever done the same thing for five months,
much less five years.

> Then again, the question of CERTS vs. DEGREES might apply
> differently to someone without any experience. I guess it
> really depends on what your looking for.

Degrees are, in essence, a certificate that you are capable of learning
things by rote and regurgitating them later, possibly applying a small
amount of thought (but not too much).  In most industries, that's a highly
valuable thing to know, and businesses hire college grads with the
assumption they'll spend the first year doing little but training them to do
useful work.

The IT industry does not have the patience or luxury of hiring a completely
cluess college grad, sending them to the dozens of required classes, giving
them a mentor to help them with their first year of work, etc.  People want
someone who can solve the problem today, period.  Certifications are a crude
but often effective means for non-technical people to determine if technical
people meet their needs.