IT Certifications:
What Are They Good For?

A talk by @thorstenfrommen

What is a Certification?

Professional Certification

Professional certifications in computer technology are
non-degree awards made to those who have
achieved qualifications specified by a certifying authority. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Certification Types

Most of the current IT certifications belong to one of two categories.

  • Education-based certifications:
    • attend an instructor-led (online or on-site) course;
    • pass (several individual stages of) the course.
  • Exam-based certifications:
    • take a (paper- or computer-based) certification exam;
    • pass the exam (i.e., score required points within given time).

The Nature of Certification Exams

Certification exams come in different flavors:

  • text material, example code, or image material;
  • multiple choice, multiple select, or free text;
  • each question gives one point, or variable difficulty and points.

Pearson VUE Test Centers

  • Computer-based certification examination.
  • More than 4,600 test centers wordwide. Seven directly in Nuremberg.
  • Deliver exams for Microsoft, Oracle, LPI, CIW, Zend, and many more.

Pearson VUE
Computer-based Testing

(live demo)

Why Certify?

Reasons for Certification

  • Gain knowledge about new techniques/in new fields.
  • Deepen knowledge by specializing.
  • Validate and demonstrate your knowledge and skills.
  • Brush up your CV.

Employee Benefits

Prove (to your customers, colleagues, or boss)
that you have a certain amount of knowledge about something.

  • Capture the attention of recruiters.
  • Get a promotion or raise.
  • Job opportunities via closed (information) exchange groups.

Employer Benefits

  • Implement industry best practices in your organization.
  • Improve your performance and productivity.
  • Present a superior professional image to your customers and partners.
  • Gain competitive advantages compared to other software development organizations.

The Value of
IT Certification

(Pearson VUE survey, conducted online in 2015)

Survey Overview

  • 26,603 individuals;
  • 87% male (11% female);
  • 10% age 18 - 24;
  • 41% age 25 - 34;
  • 42% age 35 - 54;
  • 59% work in IT industry.

General Findings

  • 53% of the exams were paid for by employers;
  • 89% used self-study materials for their exams;
  • 85% would recommend certification to a colleague;
  • 90% plan to take a certification exam in the next 12 months.


  • improve professional profile (59%);
  • increase knowledge in a specific area (54%);
  • get a raise or promotion (30%);
  • certification is required by employer (29%);
  • find a job (28%).

Benefits from Completing a Certification

First Benefit Experienced

Salary Increase

Recommended Certifications

(in the broader context of WordPress)

Zend Certified PHP Engineer

The only broadly recognized certification program for PHP.

  • Over 13,000 Zend Certified Engineers. More than 1,300 ZCPEs in Germany.
  • Zend offers test preparation courses, study guides, and mock exams.
  • Current exam is based on PHP 5.5. Update for PHP 7 aimed for fall 2016.

CIW Web Development Series

CIW JavaScript Specialist, and CIW Database Design Specialist exams.

  • Over 87,000 CIW-certified individuals.
  • CIW offers self-study kits, student guides, and courses.
  • JavaScript Specialist: fundamental concepts of the JavaScript language.
  • Database Design Specialist: vendor-neutral relational database fundamentals.
  • Pass Perl Specialist exam for CIW Web Development Professional certificate.

Oracle Certified Professional, MySQL 5.6 Developer

Helps developers design & implement applications
that make use of MySQL, data design, querying & programming.

  • Over 1.5 million Oracle Certified Professionals.
  • Oracle University offers several training courses (in different formats).

LPIC-1: Linux Server Professional Certification

The first certification in LPI’s multi-level Linux Professional certification program.

  • training course at accredited partners;
  • pass two exams for the LPIC-1 certificate.

ISTQB® Certified Tester

Most widespread qualification scheme in the world.
Syllabi contents and glossary de facto industry reference.

Project Management Professional (PMP)®

The most important industry-recognized certification for project managers.

  • prerequisites include education and professional experience;
  • 200 multiple choice questions (4 hours);
  • formal study course, and self-study books.

Lessons Learned

  • Take a certification exam about something you want to or have to learn.
  • IT certifications do matter. At least the right ones.
  • Oftentimes, the problem is to find the right certifications.

References and Further Reading