Prometric: Certification’s Perceived Value Is Shifting

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The top reason people went for certification in 2002 was to enhance their professional credibility, according to Prometric’s 2002 IT Training and Certification Study. This represents a notable change from past studies, which showed that increased compensation and preparation for a new job were the main reasons individuals sought certification.




According to Adam Kapel, vice president of strategic services at Prometric, the change is a result of a down economy and the natural cycling of a maturing industry. “As we saw the IT industry run into trouble over the last two and three years, we also saw the number of jobs diminish,” he said. “So the traditional benefits that arose from certification—such as getting entry into the industry, getting a new job, getting a better job, getting more money—have started to dissipate, and instead we are seeing other sorts of benefits emerge in their place.”




Prometric has been conducting studies like this for five years. This year, more than 8,000 professionals from over 50 countries participated in the survey: 887 IT managers, 2,149 certification candidates and 5,207 already-certified professionals. In addition, Prometric included a qualitative portion of the study, which involved interviews with IT professionals in Chicago, London and Singapore.




While previous studies found that people pursued certification for higher salaries or jobs, this year’s study shows an increasingly personal value to certification. This year, 32 percent of candidates and 34 percent of already-certified respondents said credibility was the top reason to seek certification in 2002. Only 14 percent said they sought certification as a means for attaining a new position, compared to 23 percent in 2001.




The qualitative research turned up some interesting results, said Kapel. IT managers who were included in the qualitative portion of the study were troubled by certification. IT managers feel that there are too many certifications and are troubled by a lack of experience requirements. In addition, they feel too many people have them. “They want to make sure that people understand that being certified is not the only qualification you need to get a job these days,” said Kapel.




Kapel explained that the qualitative portion of the research brought a better understanding of people’s emotional connection to certification process. He said people discussed their confusion: Should they certify or not? Which certification should they pursue? What career opportunities are available?




“We also saw some very emotional responses to the process of preparing for certification,” said Kapel. “They talked a lot about it being a very isolating process, feeling kind of alone. Were they studying the right things? Were they preparing the way they should be? That was very interesting because for the first time it gave us a little bit of insight into what people really truly have to invest of themselves to go down this path to become a certified professional.”




The qualitative interviews also revealed differences in the way women and men prepare for certification. “Women seem to be more guidance-seekers,” said Kapel. “They’re more apt to want to interact with other humans, …whereas men might do it more themselves.”




All in all, Kapel said the face of the certification industry is changing. “I believe that the organizations that produce and market these certifications need to recognize that the needs and the benefits that are desired by their market are changing,” he said. For example, he explained that where it was once the individual who pursued certification to enter the market, get a better job or make more money, now the decision-maker is changing more to the IT managers. “We’re finding that more and more, the organization has the potential to decide what certifications are funded, what certifications are pursued,” said Kapel. 



To read the 2002 Global IT Training and Certification Study, go to

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