Relevancy in IT: A Teacher’s Perspective on Certifications

Good Evening True Believers,

As an MCT and IT Instructor at a community technical college, I spend a lot of time fielding questions about certifications: Are they relevant? Do employers look at them? Which ones do I need?  My answer has always been “Depends”, but that is starting to change as I see how our world of IT is changing.

For a number of years, we would hear from our advisory committee that certifications were not a major hiring criteria. While I still hear this on a regular basis, I also hear that many employers use certifications as away to differentiate candidates with similar work backgrounds. Because of the rigorous study that can be involved with many certification exams, I believe it shows a commitment level in job candidates that they are willing to put in the time & effort to pass a certification. Also, I hear more and more employers looking for specific skill sets such as virtualization, desktop management, and cloud knowledge.


In an improving job market, I think certifications provide an excellent way for my students to differentiate themselves as they enter the IT workforce. Also, it provides validation of their skills and recognition for their time & effort.


From someone who is heavily certified, I use certifications and the testing process as a way to keep me motivated and to keep my skills relevant. It’s a great way to learn new stuff like the new Microsoft Private Cloud infrastructure. In fact, I am currently working through the private cloud setup and plan to attend the “Be What’s Next In IT” IT Camp in Madison on March 28th that covers the private cloud. My goal is to take and pass the Exams 247 & 246 for the Microsoft Private Cloud certification at Microsoft TechEd 2012 in Orlando.

I constantly tell my students that the cloud is the future (or the present) and they need to get to know it.  Currently, I’m recommending they pursue the MCITP: Server Administrator certifcation since we cover much of the material in our program.  And for the “go-getters”, I am planning to recommend they take a look at the Microsoft Private Cloud certification path.  I think it gives them a much-needed intro to the cloud and System Center, which we do not spend much time on at this point.  That will change in the future…

If you are looking to get started with Microsoft’s Private Cloud, I’d recommend checking out the link below.  It goes to a great offer from Microsoft.  First, you download all you need to build your own private cloud with Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 and Microsoft System Center 2012 Release Candidate .  Next, you take a TechNet virtual lab on System Center 2012.  Then you get $20 from the Microsoft Store (while supplies last:)…Who doesn’t like free money?

Let me know what you think about the Microsoft Private Cloud as you begin to work with it.  I think it’s great that Microsoft makes all of the above available (much of it for free) so IT Pros can stay current.  Since many of my students are on financial aid or limited incomes, stuff like this is awesome for them.

Thanks for tuning in…Mike

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