As a level set, I hold a BS in MIS, Masters, Software Engineering, a
multitude of IBM certifications and several certifications not sponsored
by IBM.  I also currently work for an IBM business partner.  I have also
been one of the IBM SMEs writing most of the System i exams for over 10
years now so my perspective should be taken in the proper light.  

As a consultant, certifications required by IBM are nothing more than
table stakes to be able to sit down and discuss engagements with
customers.  Those consultants that do not show the willingness to be
certified in an area generally do not get the opportunity to ask for the
business.  There are exceptions, mainly due to demonstrable, repeated
results or other industry accolades, but they are relatively rare.  

As indicated by Tom and Kenneth, there are some exams that test recall
information,  what can be studied for and remembered, but there are
other certifications where a significant amount of experiential
knowledge is needed to pass the exams.  Most of the business partner
technical exams for System i are that experiential in nature, so the
experience that Tom had would not play out in those cases.  The exams by
RedHat and LPI on the Linux side require a test candidate to have
sufficient problem solving skills to resolve the analytical and scenario
based questions that are posed in those exams.

Employers in southeastern Wisconsin are using certifications to weed out
applicants for specific skills.  If you do not have the Microsoft MCSE,
you are not considered for the job.  If you are not RPG-IV certified for
those somewhat rare RPG positions, again you may not get the interview.  

No system of testing is perfect, but the IBM certifications in
particular and some of the others that I hold could not be achieved by
someone with out sufficient time in the field solving problems.  Tom ran
into someone who proved, there is a difference between knowing how to
code in a language, and how to program in one, a distinction not
understood by anyone that does not have some battle scars to their credit.  

Bottom line, it is the combination of experience and certifications
together that counts, not the certification itself.

Jim Oberholtzer

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