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45. Who's paying for those MC$L Certifications?
In the 80's, everybody and his brother took two evening courses in dBase or Paradox at the local college and hung out a consultant's shingle. I still pity the businesses that hired them.

Today, the hot ticket to success and big bucks is the "technical certification". Put an "MC" in front of any two other letters, and you're a computer expert. Take an Oracle test, and you're minting money.

But not so fast. Too many of these Certified This's and That's aren't getting jobs. Why? Because certification programs are 90% marketing baloney. They "forget" to explain that you need a solid technical foundation before that certification is worth anything. And employers know it. They won't hire you just because you have a certificate. They want to see actual skills, experience and technical education deeper than a single-layer circuit board. They want to see that you actually know what you're doing.

So, what's a motivated newbie techie to do? Which certificates should she get?

The best way to pursue certifications is to talk to the employers you want to work for. Ask them what kind of education is most important to them. What skills, training, expertise and specialized knowledge do they want you to have? What certification programs do they hire from? What do they want beyond the certificate? Do they hire people who possess nothing but a certification?

Don't believe all the marketing malarkey you read about certification programs. Some are useful; some aren't. None are instant technical credentials. Ask the people who really matter: the ones you want to work for. (Doing this kind of "survey" is also a great way to meet potential employers.)

Remember that the ultimate customer of any certification program isn't you; it's the employer who hires you. Employers aren't stupid. You don't pay for the MC$L: Mondo Certified $ Loser. They do.


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