The best ways to achieve certification, benefits of certification and how to motivate yourself.
One of Creospan’s client is well underway moving to AWS and I have achieved the three AWS Associate level certifications. Our client would love to see more of their employees investing in themselves. However, most developers don’t make the time for certifications or other professional improvement outside of work because they don’t understand how important it is for their career.
Most developers believe that learning on the job is the most effective way to improve. There are indeed many benefits for you, the developer, to learn on the job, but not many benefits for your employer or client. Or rather, your client would benefit much more from you leveling up on your own time and bringing new knowledge to work. You will benefit in new ways too when your clients recognize that you are operating on a different level of professionalism.
There are plenty of effective ways to learn a new technology, and I do not want to convey that certifications are better than taking an online course, creating a sample application or attending a conference. All are effective, but certifications have some distinct benefits that work well for me.
Broad Spectrum Knowledge
Most certifications are put together in a way that requires the candidate to understand the complete breadth of a technology or platform, but not necessarily to understand every nuance or detail. Engineers holding certifications should be able to participate in design discussions and effectively complete high level design work.
Many will expect that a certification holder knows all the details and can develop any part of the solution effectively. However, that is generally not true, nor is it generally the point of a certification. Understanding a technology broadly is the point, and the in depth knowledge is learned through experience and referencing available documentation.
Your client will benefit more by you understanding the technology broadly then by your having some in depth knowledge on parts of the technology. Experienced developers can figure out the details given a task. However, getting the broad strokes of a project wrong can be very costly.
Motivation and a Goal Built In
One aspect of certifications that works very well for me is that the motivation and an end goal are built in. I generally will make an initial investment in a book or online course. This initial investment provides a bit of motivation to continue. Next I put in some time, my own time, providing more motivation to continue.
When I feel that I am making progress and starting to gain an understanding, then I will often sign up for the certification exam. This generally costs upwards of $100. More importantly, it sets a deadline, usually another week or two out. This time is used to buckle down and make sure I have done all that I can to pass the exam.
Proof of Achievement
Once you have achieved certification then you can make sure others know it too by putting it on your resume, attaching to your social media, and even putting it in your email signature if the certification is core to your career. It is this aspect of certification that can make it a vehicle for venturing into new areas. Often clients will have you on a project when you lack experience, but happen to have a certification. As a team leader, it is often very helpful to have consultants set certification goals because it is measurable.
It’s Your Career
You have chosen to work in technology — choose to be a professional. Put in the time to be effective for your employer or client and to be as valuable as you can to your team. Certifications can be a valuable tool on your path.
At Creospan, we are always looking for consultants that realize their responsibility to improve professionally and we make training readily available. Of course this is necessary to get through client interviews and perform to client expectations. However, it’s always helpful when consultants achieve a certification. Clients value certifications and often will skip that portion of the interview. Consultants achieve a level of confidence with certification that shows at the client.