I’m not exactly sure when it started, but suddenly everyone was going to get certified, and have papers claiming their skill level. Me? I couldn’t care one bit.
When I walk into an office, and the desks are filled with placks and other assorted awards (with an uncanny similarity to the ones you usually give kids at the age of ten when performing well in a local soccer tournament), and their wallpapers pretty much only consist of diplomas and certificates, I get wary.
To me, that doesn’t give the feeling of competence; it gives me vibes of fear of being insufficient, and having the need to constantly prove themselves and motivate their development presence.
Let me tell you what I think: I don’t care about your certificates. I’ve worked with a lot of different people in the IT/Web business during the last 8-9 years, both in Sweden and on an international level, and the most talented and skilled people have been the ones without certificates. Some self-taught, some just spending more time at actually getting good in practice at what they do, instead of begging for a acknowledgement for their theoretical knowledge from the company/-ies producing the technology they depend on (wonder where those companies’ interest lies in, certifying developers…).
What I care about is how you perform in real life. Not at a school-bench, but in a project with tight deadlines, small budget, pressure from the client. How do you actually act when the shit hits the fan? When you’ve worked a 12-hour days just to find out something you did was in vain/needs to be re-done/will be postponed until further notice. What I want to know is: can you deliver?
Don’t get me wrong, I know super-talented people can also have a number of certificates, but they’re very seldom good because of that, it’s just an extra feather in their hat. I can understand that certificates might be a good selling argument to convince a customer that a certain level of knowledge has been reached, and that for developers it might look good in their resumes.
So, I’m not by any means saying that you should be ashamed of your certificates, but also, don’t expect them to open every door, deliver miracles and solve your tasks. A plack that looks like something you would get the next time you fill up 5 gallons of petrol at the local gas stations won’t get you proper respect.
However, I can’t help to ponder on the fact that the people with most certificates are usually the developers in consultant companies who can’t any assignment. They end up “on the sidelines”, and have a couple of months slack time. And that’s fine, I respect them for doing something constructive with that period, but I’m far more interested in those who, during that time, build a community or put together a code library. The ones who constantly challenge themselves with tasks that don’t have to be assigned to them.
Personally, if it’s up to me, I’d rather be out in the field, in the heat. Delivering new web sites, and getting better at practical work every day.