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I am a graduate in computing and I am on the job hunt at the moment. So I now have an MSc and a Bsc qualification in applied computing.

People have been saying get a professional qualification right away while others have said "not now".

I am really unsure what to think of them at the moment, someone said to me they are bad as it makes you look like you are not open to developing in other environments. For example, if I was to get a MS certification employers might think I am useless outside of a Microsoft environment.

Are certifications worth the money? Should I really get them now, so soon after I graduate or wait till I have some experience in the working world?

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marked as duplicate by gnat, GlenH7, MichaelT, BЈовић, Dan Pichelman Jul 26 '13 at 16:27

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.

Search this site for Certifications. There are several, but I'm not sure any focus on the benefits for recent graduates. – JeffO Aug 10 '11 at 11:35
If you really do have a MS and BS in Applied Computing then any qualifications you could get are really not going to make or break you. I agree with the others, get a job, then work on those certifications if you feel lke it. – Ramhound Aug 10 '11 at 12:27

6 Answers 6

Spend the time getting work.

Apply for jobs. Spend the time to learn how to write notable cover letters and take the time learning how to interview well. You might get shut down a few times, you might land an awesome job the first time. With a bachelors and masters degree, you've done your share of study - it's time for you to apply it. However, if you feel a strong urge to rack up professional qualifications, remember that you choose what to disclose.

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+1 he has C++ which is always in demand (heavily in the UK) and if having trouble getting a job I'd thikn he's not selling himself well. Eg maybe doesn't know to tailor his CV (resume) for each job applied for - usually just needs a bit fo a tweak to emphasize how you match the job spec. You might the comments on this article interesting… – Wudang Aug 10 '11 at 12:45
Thanks, I havent really started looking for a job at the moment as technically im still a student, I have finished my degree but wont recieve it till november. So the job hunt commences soon. I really enjoyed that article and it has made me more motivated to ensure I am always on the ball with CS. I was going to learn Java however I think I will devote more time to enhancing my knowledge of PHP, C++ and Javascript. I have been learning how to develop using MVC which I find cool. – bearbread Aug 10 '11 at 14:12

Anyone that has shown expertise in one area, people may assume they lack in others. This could be through education, certification or job experience. If you apply for a PHP job, there's no law that says you must list your Microsoft certifications.

You can get certified if you have the means and extra time, but it should in no way get in the way of looking for a job or getting hands on experience on a project. Taking time off to study for a certification is not wise IMO. Having a degree gives you a good start. Once you get experience, you shouldn't have trouble finding work.

There are many good programmers who have certifications, but the converse isn't always true.

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The way I see it, certifications can never hurt. They show your willingness to learn "after hours" and dedicate yourself to self-study. Also, they are pretty good structured learning on the technical side of languages/frameworks/APIs.

I say go for it.

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For me, personally, they can hurt. If I interview someone who has lots of certifications on their resume I often think they are more interested in collecting certifications than in getting the job done. – Bryan Oakley Aug 22 '11 at 13:48

With your degrees, you've already proven that you can study enough to pass an exam (sorry if that sounds facetious, but that is part of the game). If you get professional certifications, you're essentially proving the same again and you don't get any real world development experience just because you sat the exam.

As someone who regularly interviews developers ranging from very junior to very senior, I look for demonstrations of proficiency that's reasonable for the level I'm interviewing at, not wall decoration.

Spend the time looking for a job, and set some time apart to work on an open source project, preferably one where people give you feedback (positive and negative) about your programming abilities so you improve as a developer. You've got to convince people like me that you can do the work and unfortunately in my experience another piece of paper doesn't necessarily confirm this.

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While you're looking at job ads, it would be useful to note how many jobs you see that look interesting reference certifications and which certifications they reference. That should give you a pretty good indication of how beneficial any particular certification is likely to be to you.

Different regions have different attitudes toward certifications. Companies in Silicon Valley, for example, are much less likely to care about certification than companies in the American Midwest which tend to be older and more conservative. Companies new Seattle are more likely to want folks with Microsoft certifications than are companies in Virginia because of the proximity to the Microsoft campus.

Different industries have different attitudes toward certifications. Companies in highly regulated industries tend to care far more about certifications than do companies in lightly regulated industries because regulators tend to look favorably on any sort of credential. The US Department of Defense, for example, has set a bunch of certification targets for DoD employees and contractors that has lead to a lot of people getting a lot of certifications recently.

Different companies have different attitudes toward certifications. Large contracting companies tend to look favorably on certifications because it helps quickly sell you to a client that is looking for a bunch of .Net/ Java/ Oracle developers to start on a project immediately. Companies that are trying to achieve higher levels of partnership with a chosen vendor often have to ensure that they have a certain number of certified developers so they'll often be interested in hiring certified candidates.

If you look at the sort of jobs you see being offered in your area for whatever industry and type of company you're interested in and see that a number of them are mentioning in their ads that they're interested in the MCSD certification, it may be worth spending some time getting that certification. On the other hand, if you're not seeing any certifications mentioned in the job listings that interest you, it's probably not worth going after any certifications at this point.

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Don't sell yourself short. If you've got a Masters degree in computer science, you're probably pretty good at:

  • analyzing and solving problems
  • learning difficult material quickly
  • completing assignments on time
  • seeing a project through to completion

I suppose a particular certification might help for certain jobs, and if those are the kinds of jobs you want then you should look into the right certification. But in general, the skills you already have are probably more valuable than any vendor-specific certification.

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