Product/Programming certifications have an important place, as long as they are not relied upon as the most important thing.
Greg and I often disagree with each other – but we always try to listen and learn during these disagreements. This small amount of pain usually offers great rewards, in either gaining new perspective or just in having more certainty on a perspective we already see through. This is a large part of what makes our business partnership – and our friendship – work.
Here is one of those times where we disagree, however. Greg feels that Product certifications aren’t important at all. I believe in the opposite.
I understand where he is coming from… I have been passed over for opportunities where I have been highly qualified because of experience, just because I have not taken the time to take a quick test. This is always frustrating, and recruiters are the worst people here, as they are (generally) non-techies just searching for keywords.
However, I am very proud to have a few certifications for Java and ColdFusion. And honestly, taking the time t study for these tests made me focus on all parts of the languages, not just the stuff I use 95% of the time. Studying the other 5% made me think more closely on why I program the way I do.
Joshua Bloch has a great book on Java called Java Puzzlers. In this, he explores some of the pitfalls, traps, and common problems that Java programmers face, often because of a lack of full understanding of the language. As I have read through this book, and others like it, I have found that studying for the Java Programmer’s exam made me a much more thorough programmer. Really simple things like immutability of String objects and Object casting often trip programmers up, but these things are always on my mind while programming now, so I have no issues.
So, does listing a certification on my resume make me a better programmer? No, it does not. But listing it on top of my extensive Java experience *does*, I think, show me perhaps as a more complete programmer.
Disagreeing with my business partner is usually just the first step in coming to agreement on what’s important. I doubt that this little diatribe will much change his opinion. But as this is our website, I thought it important to lay out my opinion.
So long for now.