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Reasons for and against programming certificates, and which ones you should probably check out. Certifiable Reasons for and against programming certificates, and which ones you should probably check out.

Dear Molly: How necessary is certification in any IT field? I hear a lot about certification, but I’ve always thought that if you can do the job, you don’t need a piece of paper to prove it. I have been in programming for years–any reason why I should get certified?

Molly says: You’re right–certification is a means to an end. It shows a potential employer that you are at least familiar enough with a certain subject to pass a test or two. Certification gives a potential employer a higher degree of assurance that you can do the job you say you can do. In IT, lots of people can talk the talk, but can’t walk the walk, so employers want any indication of capability they can get.

If you are currently employed (happily) as a programmer, you may not need to get a certification of any kind. You are doing the work and getting paid to do it. That speaks volumes about your capability to a potential employer.

On the other hand, if you want to branch out into another language or change to a different area of IT, getting certified in that language or area would be a good idea since you don’t have a track record to demonstrate to a potential employer.

If you’re interested in checking out some programming certifications, here are a few Web sites: Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer, Certified Java Programmer or Certified Developer, and Oracle Certified Application Developer or Certified Database Administrator.

Molly Joss also writes the monthly Career Advisor column for ComputerUser magazine. Ask a career-related question at [email protected]

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