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Until recently, I've been getting along just fine with my Computer Science graduate degree from a respectable university, but now my employer has instituted a policy that employees in my position must carry a certification from a short list of possibilities. I've never had to care about this stuff before, and just Googling around leads mostly to scammy-looking sites trying to sell you "study software", sample exams, or just the outright test answers (supposedly).

So, I have to choose a certification to go for, and have no way of knowing if any of them are worth more (to a real programmer) than the paper they're printed on. I could post a big list here and have people pick it apart, but I figure "teach a man to fish" is perhaps more useful. If you have a positive / negative experience with a particular cert, by all means let me know, but I'd really prefer to be better equipped to evaluate them myself.

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Since you're just trying to satisfy a current employer, choose the one in the technology that you like the most, or has the most clout at your company... Easy enough, right? –  JasonTrue Jul 11 '11 at 18:12
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2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

For certs themselves, I generally look at the organization backing them. Certifications tend to be vendor-specific (though there are many that aren't directly tied, but still backed by reputable companies). Then, go to those companies for learning material references. Things like RHEL, Microsoft, or Oracle certs generally have their own line of books, too. So going with them is a safe bet.

As for your employer's policy and learning materials. Since it's a mandatory thing, see if they offer any kind of reimbursement or otherwise pay for the learning and/or the cert itself. Also, check your laws to see what you're entitled to with regard to employer mandates and reimbursement for things like this.

As for the worth of certs to programmers (or IT in general), in my experience, most are little more than resume fodder, as fellow programmers generally care more about results than the piece of paper. However, higher level certs, such as Cisco expert level certs, can be more valuable than any college education. So, if you're looking for long term value, look at the higher level certs from reputable sources if you want to go that far. Otherwise, just find that balance between what you're interested in and what you employer wants.

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My time as an IT employee may have an effect on my opinion, but as a developer who gets involved in security I find the CISSP certification to be very worth while and well respected.

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I dont have a site that give unbiased reviews but perhaps we can give you recommendations and let the votes indicate what certification are worth while. –  Digital Powers Jul 11 '11 at 18:17
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