Anyone who knows me always asks the same questions: why do you have so many certifications? aren't you tired to study all the time? do you think it's worth the effort and time you spent?
Well, I don't have exactly the answer.. I have so many certifications because they help me learning something new, yes I'm tired to study all the time but this is the life I chose and I believe all my certifications are worth my effort since they made me what I am today.
But to explain more, I need to reveal one little secret of me:
I don't have any background in computer field.
I don't have any computer science degree.
My university degree is .. Mechanical Engineering!
I know it's not uncommon. Many people who work in Information Technology come from different background.
So, considering my situation 6 years ago. I graduated from Mechanical Engineering, but I have a passion to work in Internet Security. At that time I knew only a bit system administration tasks in RedHat Linux.
To learn more about computer at that time I decided to pursue MCSE Windows NT Server.
I was amazed with domain concept, client - server relationship, trusting domain, DNS and all the things I learned in my quick-and-cheap 12 days MCSE class.
I started taking the exam: MCP Win NT server, NT workstation, Networking essential...
Until one shinny Sunday morning when two of my friends visited me and discussed about new networking class from Cisco named CCNA. I was really interested so I decided to dump MCSE and take the CCNA class.
It was 10 magic days for me. I learned routing, switching, frame-relay and all CCNA stuff. By the end of the training, I took the exam and became the first attendant of the class who passed.
Well, life was becoming easier after I passed CCNA (hey, remember it was early 2000!). One multi-national oil company offered me my first job in IT. This is the same company who refused my application when I applied as a Mechanical Engineer 6 months before!
I spent my 3 months probation period by finishing the second Cisco certification step: CCNP. Hex, this company has more than 150 routers running EIGRP, BGP, Frame-Relay, ISDN. All that I needed to pass my CCNP. After 9 months in the company, I had already possessed CCNP, CCDP and CCIE qualification test. All without any trainings from the company. Only by reading the material and practice.
Still don't believe certifications can help for your future? Continue reading..
One day a technical manager from IBM Global Services came to me and offered me a job. He promised that IBM would send me to CCIE Lab anywhere in the world in any cost as long as I can pass my CCIE in maximum 2 attempts. But if I failed, they would kick me out. Well, sounds like very interesting offer to me. So I join them immediately.
IBM is the best place to work. The working culture is excellent, people are really polite, and Human Resource personnels are helpful. As promised, IBM sent me to CCIE Lab with first class flight. I passed my CCIE Lab in Tokyo, Japan. It was my second attempt. My first attempt was in Brussels, Belgium, where there I failed in my second day. At that time CCIE was still 2-days lab exam.
So, I was a CCIE already and I worked in the best place to work. What else?
Well, I realized at that time my interest is still Internet Security. So I decided to learn about firewall. And what is the easy way to learn and making money at the same time? Take Checkpoint CCSE certification. The exam made me study about firewall and security concept. At the same time I helped my company since we sold Checkpoint Firewall products, and being certified guaranteed our services to the customers.
After CCIE, life was completely different. I used to receive job offer every several days. Eight months after I passed my CCIE, I decided to leave IBM and move to one IT company in Middle East. The job is challenging; they have completely different culture and at the same time the region is willing to grow to catch the technology. Cisco is the main player in Networking, Security, Wireless and IP Telephony.
So to secure my job and learn more into security I took Cisco security CCSP certification.
Up to that moment, I realized that I have to focus on the field that I really interested in. I learned deeper about Unix by taking Sun certifications, understood more about wireless security using Planet3 CWSP, took Ethical Hacker to learn tools for penetration testing, learned how to design and assess perimeter network using SANS Institute GCFW, and the latest certification I took was (ISC)2 CISSP to learn about security management and stuff.
As consultant who deals with corporate customers, I can see that it's easier to convince them with all those certification titles behind my name. Well definitely this is only one of the reason. Nothing can beat real experience, good personality and friendly approach.
So... as summary, IT professional certifications are good for me for following reasons:
1. Learn new stuff
2. Secure the job, and to get better job :)
3. To measure how deep I have learned about something
I know most people can survive without certifications. But hey, this is the easiest way.. don't you think so?