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Other than being able to put "I know Python" on a resume, are the certifications from O'Reilly School of Technology (they are issued by the University of Illinois) any good for obtaining employment?

I am interested in learning many of the topics covered by these programs and since they are fairly well-priced, I was thinking of going this route. However, I don't really want to do it if it's about as worthwhile as a degree from University of Phoenix.

Does anyone know what effect these certs may have on obtaining employment vs not obtaining a certification, but learning on your own?

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6 Answers 6

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Mitigated As measurement tool

I always look with a grain of salt when someone lists a whole bunch of certifications in his resume. From experience they tend to be used as space filler when experience is lacking. They are not useless but when there are too many of them I tend to raise an eyebrow and wonder if all that time and money getting certifications would not have been better spent on an open source project for example.

but Great As a learning tool

That said, I personally used them a lot as a learning tool and assess my progress when learning a new subject. I used to do a lot of certifications from Brainbench in the good'ol days when it was free. Still, even now I would pay for a certification just to gain a feel on my progress and get an idea of how I rank with regards to fellow programmers. Knowing where I stood gave me more confidence when hunting for a job and negotiating a salary that was closer to what I was really worth.

As msvb60 was saying I doubt the certification by itself may not get you a job but the knowledge gained while trying to obtain it definitively will.

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Having obtained far too many certifications in my career I can say, other than providers who need a specific number of certified people on staff, my certifications never got me a job by themselves. What they do however is give you lots more knowledge of the topic. THAT gets you the job, not the cert itself. But you can get that knowledge without a cert.

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+1 agree with this. Personality/character gets you the job... most of the time –  Agile Scout May 3 '11 at 14:37

Yes it looks worthwhile since the courses offered are not just a simple version but the

full course. It would be like getting a certificate from the University.

From http://www.oreillyschool.com/faqs.php

Upon satisfactory completion of all courses in a Certificate Series, you will be eligible to receive a Certificate of Professional Development from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Office of Continuning Education. The challenge of earning this certificate, coupled with the worldwide recognition of UIUC as a top-ranked institution, will ensure that your accomplishment shines on your resume. To see a sample of this certificate, Click Here.

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I think you need to take a step back and look at the complete value proposition that you put forward to employers, and people that you network with. The O'Reilly course could be useful to almost anyone because it has the university backing, but it is completely dependent upon how you use it. Programmers love to talk and think in absolutes but the world is not really like that. If you think it is then you haven't seen enough of it.

You don't provide enough context, but I'll assume that you don't have a computer science education. Employers may use a CS degree as one of their primary filters. You need to mitigate this filter with equivalent experience or education in different areas that can apply to their domain.

I could see a number of benefits to the O'Reilly course that help in this area:

  • It is run by a reputable technology education organisation. A lot of developers swear by O'Reilly books so why should the courses be different?
  • The person running the course has experience at a leading university. There are different kinds of instructors but the best tend to have some experience in universities and corporate environments.
  • You will reinforce the quote "I know python". Do you really know it? Through a course like this you will fill in gaps in your knowledge. That said it is important to read the syllabus and contact the instructor ahead of applying to the course to avoid wasting your time with basics that you do know. (again some more context would be useful here in your question.
  • It demonstrates a focus. Assuming you are really interested in working with Python it shows that you have been able build on this interest and take it to the next level. This is more achievable than trying to do a more academic course and then struggling to be focused because you were only interested in the programming and not the mathematical aspects of CS.

Building on this course with contributions to open source projects or other tangible examples is only going to help you. This shows that you realise that you need theory (the course) and practice (course exercises + outside projects), and gives you something to talk about with recruiters.

There may be some other certificate options at universities that you might want to look into if you feel that you need to do something a little more academic. It seems like these are targeted towards those with some sort of undergraduate degree so I've no idea if these would work for you.

It seems like many people are conditioned to discount learning that is not done through an established university. This is especially true when dealing with recruiters and managers who have some distance from the actual job at hand.

Many people would say that they just want someone who is capable of doing a particular job. But when it comes to actual selection they will use filters that they understand further reinforcing this problem. eg. they like to hire from the same universities. This turns out to be good and bad from a shared culture through to problematic group think.

This is important stuff to think about when you research employers as you want to make an impact on the right people. If you don't think you'll get past the filter that a recruiter places in front of you, but think you can make a difference for them then you need to find a way to get the people who will. These are the people who are more likely to appreciate a certificate like this.

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Search for jobs and see how many favor certifications. This may be an alternative to having experience working with the language on actual applications or a CS degree.

To make it worth it, you have to determine how difficult it is for you to get a job without it.

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I am currently enrolled in the Python certificate program and I have to say that I have found it pretty interesting and challenging. I don't know if it would ever help my career chances more than say, building a software product with Python that I could point to on my resume, but it has been a good experience so far. If for nothing else, it will give you a firm base in the Python programming environment (albeit 3.0) but the versions aren't really that different. Also, it's taught by Steve Holden so you know it's going to be pretty intensive. Hey, it's one more thing that you can put on your resume (or not) and if it's in the spirit of learning then I believe it's even more valuable.

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