IT certifications have been around for ages. They can help IT professionals boost their resume and keep their skills sharp. The community is often split on the benefits of cloud certifications, however, with some finding them worthwhile and others arguing that cloud is too broad of a category, with too many competing vendors and platforms for certifications to be valuable.
IT certifications have always been vendor-driven, however, and if you expect to work with a specific vendor’s tools, a certification can be one way to help you secure a position or provide better service to your company’s clients. If you’re a Managed Service Provider (MSP) or cloud channel partner, a certification might help you get more business, too.
What are the main pros and cons of getting cloud certified?
The most obvious benefit of a cloud certification is that is might make you more attractive to your current or potential employer. You might be able to use it to leverage a pay raise or promotion, and your company can advertise your department’s skills to clients.
Preparing for a certification test can help you get a handle on best practices and nitty-gritty details alike. For example, the CompTIA Cloud+ certification has questions like:
Vendor specific questionnaires might have you tailor your answers more towards a particular product, but they will also require the same mix of general and specific knowledge in order to pass.
Beyond gaining you career opportunities, plus basic to advanced knowledge of cloud as concept as well as individual solutions, some certifications can expand your abilities in related IT realms like security, networking, and governance.
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There are vendor-neutral certifications from third parties as well as tests for individual platforms. Here are some of the major cloud certifications available:
Many argue that experience is better for your career and your abilities than passing a test online, especially when it comes to cloud computing. Cloud requires a broad range of IT skills no matter the vendor, and at a vendor-neutral provider, administrators must also be familiar with a variety of software and hardware providers.
Tests are also expensive if your employer isn’t footing the bill—they can run from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Some believe a certification is therefore a way to buy a leg up, rather than truly learning. By focusing on a specific certification, you are tailoring your knowledge to that test rather than real-world situations.
Certifications also tend to be a short-lived standard, especially in the fast moving world of cloud computing. Vendors will often revise certifications from year to year, requiring you to retake the test to remain current.
Ultimately the value of a cloud certification will have to be determined on an individual basis. They can make a great launching point to start learning and refining your cloud knowledge, and some of the more advanced vendor tests can certainly help you gain expertise on their related platforms. But you’ll have to decide if the certification is worth more than spending that time on real-world experience. Clouds may be fluffy, but they can still put you through a school of hard knocks, and hands-on failures (and successes) are likely to be much more memorable.