Sign up ×
Programmers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development. It's 100% free.

This question already has an answer here:

My understanding of standard programming/computer certifications is that they show you have some core competency about a specific language or technology. There seems to be a little room for variation here, but for the most part I don't feel like I don't see very many "expert" level certifications. How valuable are master level language certifications such as the recent C++ Grandmaster? Do you think they would have a big impact on getting a good job? (I understand that C++ grandmaster is a really extreme, maybe unrealistic, example.)

If so, what valuable "master" or "expert" level certifications exist for specific programming languages? Are certifications more valuable for showing core competency or specific specialty knowledge?

I am not very knowledgable about this subject so let me know if I made bad assumptions.

share|improve this question

marked as duplicate by gnat, Kilian Foth, Dan Pichelman, MichaelT, GlenH7 Jul 17 '13 at 2:26

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

@gnat specifically master level – Justin Meiners Jul 16 '13 at 16:06

2 Answers 2

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Certifications have minimal value even for entry level jobs. Their primary value is getting past human resources buzzword filters. While on a personal level, studying for a certification can be a useful way to discipline yourself when picking up a new technology, no one is going to be offered a senior development position on the basis of a certification.

I'd never heard of the C++ Grandmaster certification so I naturally wouldn't lend it much credence if I saw it on a resume. It does look like you might have a nice body of code at the end of it, and that might be worth showing to an employer, but instead of jumping through some arbitrary project for a certification, why not spend your time creating a project that you are actually interested in?

share|improve this answer
Thanks, just the type of answer I am looking for. – Justin Meiners Jul 16 '13 at 3:57
Love this part of the answer: "...instead of jumping through some arbitrary project for a certification, why not spend your time creating a project that you are actually interested in?" – Mike Jul 16 '13 at 4:36

It depends on the kind of job you're after, but for most jobs, certifications are close to meaningless.

A certification says little to nothing about your practical programming skills; the way it usually works is that you sit through some coursework, and then take a multiple-choice exam. Obviously, such an exam mostly tests factual knowledge, that is, things you can easily learn by heart given enough time - but actual problem solving skills aren't required to pass such an exam. If anything, a certification attests that you can remember and accurately reproduce large numbers of arbitrary facts. Or, put differently, a certification is about those parts of a programmer's skill set that are easy to acquire, quickly outdated, and usually available within 10 seconds of googling.

What employers (at least the better ones) are really looking for is the tricky part of the skill set: problem solving, analytical thinking, juggling abstractions, a flexible mindset, good intuition about what directions a project might take, communication skills and some insight about how the human mind ticks. And there are enough much better ways to check for those - experience, code samples, technical writing samples, on-site programming tests, in-person interviews, forum posts, etc. So if you want to impress prospective employers, better work on those fronts.

That said, there are exceptions to the rule. Some companies have a policy of having all employees certified, and there are situations where certification is even required, either by law, or as part of a licensing agreement. When this is the case, a candidate who already has the required certification might enjoy a slight preference over someone who doesn't. This is not something I'd spend a lot of thought on though, unless you already know that you really want to work at a particular company that has such rules.

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.