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Certification or Indoctrination? Depends on You!

Posted by schaefa on January 21, 2005 at 2:38 PM PST

John Reynold's Blog discusses the question if the Java exams are helping you to learn Java or help the provider to indoctrinate their (marketing) philosophy. For me looking back on having passed the Microsoft Certified Software Engineer, some Microsoft beta exams as well as the Java Programmer and Developer exam I can say:

It depends solely on you!

I learned and passed the MCSE's 6 tests in 4 weeks and gained a waste knowledge about Windows, Networking and the web. All the exams helped me to gain a foundation of knowledge helping me today to solve many problems I could not do without. The advantage I gained through these tests did not come from the tests itself but from the chance to deal with the subject matter, to learn the stuff in depth and to consolidate the knowledge. This means that things I learned through the MCSE still helps me today developing Java programs. Many topics in Java, J2EE, web services etc are not knew and you can digest them easier if you know similar concepts or precursors of these technologies.

What I am trying to say is the important point is that you learn for an exam and not that you pass the exam. This also means that you can learn without an exam but the exam is a nice test to see if you somewhat mastered the topic. Another way to test your knowledge is to participate in an open-source project and so I stopped taking any exams since I started to work for open-source projects.

I met many developers that took the exam only to improve their resume. This maybe a good side effect of such an exam but I think this is short sighted and does not help any developer on the long run. At the end software engineers should learn every day to improve their knowledge and to secure their future. No company in this world can take away what you have learned even they fire you.

Learn and have fun – Andy