Are IT Certifications a Scam?

MCSE, MCSA, CNA, CISSP, A+, and a thousand more are coveted IT certifications.  Many people study and stress and sweat to take them.  Companies list them as requirements for positions for mostly entry and mid level positions.  However, are they really a scam?

I'm not saying that they aren't worth anything to the people taking them.  At worst they serve to make you learn some of the basic concepts of whatever you are being certified for.  However, the companies that sponsor these certification reap dual benefits.  

First, Companies charge exorbitant fees for the tests and make money on licensing of "official" testing materials.  Sure, there are costs to developing certifications. However, given the lifecycle of a cert companies make their money back many, many times over. Tens of millions of dollars a year in pure profit.  

Second, by locking people into certifications companies are literally creating a customer base.  If you have an MCSE you are likely going to remain a Microsoft person for a long time.  It helps to lock in customers and and keeps them coming back.  That's not to say that people don't certify in new things, but I sure as hell know more people started as MCSE's and just stayed there then people who made the jump to Linux, Mac, etc.

I want to be be clear, I don't begrudge people who go for certifications.  They make perfect sense and are a good way to jump stat your career or in some cases meet regulatory requirements for jobs.  I just think that companies abuse their certifications to create almost a cult of product users that are constantly chasing the dragon.

~b


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