In continuing our evaluation of data from our skills watch, the next area of exploration is certifications. Much has been written over the years about the positives associated with obtaining a certification, and the effects it has on ones career trajectory. With that being said, the most important piece of the equation is whether or not corporations are putting the same value on that certification. Beside a desire for knowledge, one wants to know if that accreditation will result in a positive return on investment. After all, a lot of the certifications in existence do not come cheap.
In a nutshell, the data shows that in fact there is not an increase in postings requiring certifications over the last couple of years. As one can see below, if it were graphed, it would be a little bit of a roller coaster ride. But, if anything, there appears to be less demand for most certifications as time goes on. It almost appears to be a feat of strength if a certain certification can just maintain the level of interest over the years:
As far as the Linux specific certifications are concerned, it appears that RedHat still tends to rule the roost. That does not come as a big surprise, at least here in the United States, given that they have the largest install base. But, it is fairly surprising the decline in interest of certain RedHat certifications over the last couple of years. They have tended to tweak their offerings, so it is unknown if that has attributed to the numbers at all.
Unfortunately, we were not able to get a good reading on corporate interest in the LPI certification, therefore, that data is not included. However, since there is a close relationship with LPI and CompTIA's Linux+ certification, one can draw a good conclusion of the interest in LPI in the marketplace. It provides a good start if nothing else.
One notable decline to be mentioned is that of Microsoft certifications. They have seen a steady erosion over the two year period. It must be noted again, the data being analyzed is specific FLOSS openings. So, perhaps that does not come as a big surprise. But, is there something more to the statistics? Are these heterogenous environments more heavily weighted to FLOSS offerings over time, thus the lack of interest in a candidate's Microsoft credentials? With any statistical data, one can always make inferences, albeit the accuracy being debatable. However, that possibility does exist.
Below you can find a score for selected Microsoft certifications. "ALL COMBINED" value represents a total score of all presented certifications for a given month. Click on the legend labels to disable or enable any particular certification listed on the below chart.
While the data may dishearten people that have either achieved a certification in a certain discipline or are currently going through the process, one must not be disappointed. Of all the data we have collected, the scores from certifications are still larger than most of the other areas we have analyzed. Therefore, certifications still tend to be fairly popular. But, their popularity just seems to have plateaued or declined in most instances.
Why is that the case? Once again, we arrive at a speculative point. Is the fact that the tools to succeed in a FLOSS society being readily available to anybody interested lessen the need for a paper certification? Perhaps. Do corporations refrain from making it a requirement on their job postings for fear of limiting an already small pool of candidate's? That possibility exists as well. I tend to think it is a mix of the above. But, that is speculation on my part after spending 15 years recruiting in this space.
At the end of the day, a certification can only assist in ones career. It can never be a hindrance. Thus, if you are thinking of moving in that direction, in most instances it is still wise to do so.