Pursuing exams – being multi use engineer

Couple of months ago read an article about exams in IT profession. If they worth the hard work to achieve them, but more importantly, to keep them. As today’s IT scene, regardless which part of IT we discuss here, but it is true and fair to say, crowded and multi-vendor. Pace is so fast that in a 5 year timescale whole vendors can wipe themselves, complete product lines can evolve and die. This means IT profession, so all engineers, developers, architects – and could continue this all day – needs to be up to date at least but it is even better if they can see what is coming. They need to know how to condense today’s technological possibilities in a way, that allows their employer to turn this into value – products, services etc. So a professional you need to be on the top of the current technology curve, certified and also clear what the pitch is.

A simple certification which makes you not different but simply one in the crowd might take up a year and a pile of money. If your company support this either freeing up some time of yours or paying your exams, you are lucky. This does not mean you don’t need to read/learn/excersise. As tech moves quickly you need to do this in a reoccurring fashion. You need to take exams of one vendor yearly, others every second year. And here is the first gotcha: the one dimension IT engineer is an extinct specie. Job offers usually do require multiple skills, not two but at least five. This means you cannot be the top choice for a job if you are only one vendor engineer. At least this is my experience.

One choice will dictate and preorder you next some years. Exams and vendors are two things you need to choose wisely. Not saying it cannot be changed again, but if you step on a road, you need to walk all the way, till you reach its end or the next crossroad. If you have multiple vendors certs on your wall that is great, but not just the knowledge, but the stamps on them need to be polished as written before. More you have, more the time you will need to spend on this. The article I read was discussing if good or not. Some folks say stop pursuing these badges and focus on learning more since you have more time, since you have stopped reading cert materials and trying to answer 1200 multiple choice questions.

I agree in a way, practical exams are great. For example VCAP Deploy exams are like that. You need to do something the same way like you would do in a real infrastructure. Text based multi choice or yes/no question filled exams surely needed, but when you need to do them in every year and not just one but many, might cause burn out syndrome.

Also the time of one bit engineers is gone. The virtualization and the cloud itself changed the curveture of a good IT engineer quite a bit. If you are expert in one area, let’s say in storage you are fine but not unique, certanly not someone who will be bombarded with job offers. The ideal IT guy now is more likelly someone who knows many IT areas, some of them in depth, but more like a landscape. So he/she knows how the puzzle pieces fit together, considering that today’s systems are like shuffling the content of many puzzle games and insert them all to the same picture as one. This puts any IT engineer under stress and forcing them to be multi solution experts – at least the ones who want’s to have their heads above the waterline.

What is your opinion? Share it here on LinkedIn