Certification is a Scam

Tech certification plays upon the fantasy that a sensible way to get ahead with your career is to acquire credentials. As most people are even more lazy than stupid, they greedily desire as much advantage as possible for the least amount of effort. This allows certification sellers to offer an easily completed credential with a few weeks of cursory effort, which like giving university degrees to any average person willing to take out a loan, results in worthless certification for the time spent, as it only confers time attending a program of no particular distinction.

Easy certifications are available to anyone with a few weekends, which makes them worthless. This is most of all a disservice to the person spending time and money chasing certifications. Employers mostly disregard certifications even if job listings include them at H.R.’s request. Experienced candidates without required certifications will usually be hired, while certified candidates without experience will be deemed insufficient.

An entire industry has popped up around certification, with classes, books, and test cheating systems that primary prey upon third-world migrants with deceptive promises of success through trivial certifications. Note the disproportionate number of third-world people caught up in the scam — and sometimes performing it on others. Dabblers stuck in menial unskilled positions believe the secret to starting a career is certification, not knowledge and applied skills, and certification providers develop thousands of worthless certificate programs to take advantage of confused beliefs.

Tim Ferriss ushered in the mainstream mindset of gaming tests according to their definitions so that a participant could quickly achieve the objectives of a measurement without developing the long-term skills expected of its practitioners. Many courses specifically teach how to pass the certification exam rather than teaching knowledge about the area the exam is testing, which helps students pass an exam without understanding much and cramming for a known test format.

Similar industry scams exist to make money off people who dream of writing a movie, producing acting portfolios, publishing a novel, becoming professional athletes, and other hopes to break away from the crowd and somehow become excellent by falling back on trite formulas and simplistic coaching available for a modest fee. There is always an audience to defraud by playing to their hopes.

Guitar stores similarly sell the fantasy of being a rock star to push their products. All you need is a better crafted guitar, and an amp with a crisper sound, and some new effects and then your songs will be awesome. Rather than considering substance, those stores promote expensive apparatus as the solution. To be fair, it wouldn’t be much of a business if they offered realistic assessment of music talent and composition, as they would turn away nearly every potential customer who was ready to buy equipment so they could chase their dreams instead of refocusing on fundamentals that have nothing to do with production values anyone could purchase. Yet, no one knows of a famous band that simply bought equipment to disguise an inability to write compelling songs.

Human Resources loves certifications because they signify standards that allow binary filtering without context, allowing them to determine suitability by what words are on a resume rather than nuanced assessment of knowledge, experience, and character. Getting certifications will get some interviews when the resume searching criteria matches H.R.’s list of requirements, but nearly all certification laden candidates will have only obtained a certification without any real-world contact with the subject matter, which for the purpose of job suitability is the same as not have a certification and knowing nothing significant.

Hiring managers see resumes with random certifications as an indication of a scatter-brained mind acting chaotically in a foolish quest for a quick wealth scam. Advanced certifications around a narrowly focused area are of some value, but having accomplishments and deep experience with no certifications is preferable. Companies are organized for purpose and require ability and a history of accomplishment, not attestations about digesting course material. The third-world mentality of presenting papers to receive respect isn’t reality in functional societies. Nor do their notions of wealth flowing from credentials — wealth comes from what one is and thereby achieves. Credentials are an afterthought that happens as a result of one’s inherent talent when in proximity to a credential granting institution; otherwise someone is achieving a different purpose.

Engineers interviewing fellow engineers recognize most certifications as worthless, disregarding them from criteria when assessing candidates. Only a few certifications carry any weight, which are those that are accepted as difficult and typically requiring many years of intense experience. These are the only ones worth pursuing and listing on a resume. The rest are embarrassing, pointless, and reveal the candidate as an amateur too naïve to know their fakery doesn’t fly in the real world. Only a fool wastes time acquiring prizes of no value when they could have done something valuable instead.

Leaving 99% of certifications behind, if you want to master some technology you can always buy a book on it and read it cover to cover, then actually use it for everything imaginable which will cause you to encounter the limits of the book’s teachings and explore further so that you really understand it. If interest is lacking for that, you shouldn’t be quietly professing expertise through certification when there’s not basic curiosity or the basic knowledge an employer desires.

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