Certifiably confused?

Summary:Love 'em or hate 'em, you can't live without certifications. You can argue until you're blue, but one fact remains: Many companies choose their technical partners by virtue of their certifications.

Here's how certified professionals advise approaching an exam:

1. Experience is not enough. You need to know the right answers according to the book, not your experience. Don't give the answer you want—give the answer that the vendor wants. If that strikes you as unfair, tough. No one ever got an MCSE by bellyaching to Microsoft.

2. Cramming isn't good for you. Whether it's a holiday dinner or subnet numbering schemes, don't try to digest everything at once. Study for several weeks, then rest up for the exam. One successful CCIE who flunked on his first try notes, "A restless night and nerves are what got me. The second time around, I brought a 'what the hell' attitude and aced the exam."

3. Know your subject. If you're not ready, you're not ready. Wait until you master the material and then take the test. Limited knowledge plus crossed fingers does not equal a passing score on a multiple-choice test.

4. Don't second-guess yourself while taking the test. As Regis often says, go with your first instinct. Only go back and change an answer if information in the test itself makes you realize that you made an earlier mistake.

Certifications: What They Are And How To Earn Them

Always go straight to the source before taking any step along your certification journey. Certification programs change constantly; what might be a "must-take" course now might prove to be a waste of time tomorrow.


Main Certification


3Com Certified Solutions Expert (CSE) www.3com.com/
Association of Web Professionals Certified Web Designer (CWD) www.a-w-p.org/
Allaire Allaire Certified Professional Program (ACPP) www.allaire.com/services/
Cisco Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) www.cisco.com/warp/
Citrix Citrix Certified Administrator (CCA) www.citrix.com/training
Compaq Accredited Systems Engineer (ASE) www.compaq.com/ase
CompTIA A+, Net+ www.comptia.org/
HP HP Certifications education.hp.com/
IBM IBM Certifications www.ibm.com/certify
Intel Intel Certification Program www.intel.com/training/
Java Certified Programmer for the Java Platform suned.sun.com/HQ/
Linux Linux Professional Institute Certification (LPIC) www.lpi.org
Lotus Certified Lotus Specialist www.lotus.com/home.nsf/
Microsoft Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) www.microsoft.com/
Novell Certified Novell Engineer (CNE) www.novell.com/
Oracle Certified Professional Database Administrator (CP/DBA) education.oracle.com/
Red Hat Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) www.redhat.com/training/
SCO (Caldera) Advanced Certified Engineer (ACE) www.sco.com/education
Sun Certified System Administrator (CSA) suned.sun.com/HQ/

Cashing In On Certification

What can you make with a certification? Here are this year's average salaries for some of the more popular certifications. as you might expect, the coveted CCIE is easily the most highly paid certification on the market today.

Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert (CCIE): $120,000
Oracle Certified Professional/Database Administrator (CP/DBA): $82,500
Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE): $62,500
Certified Novell Engineer (CNE): $60,000
CompTIA Network+: $49,500
CompTIA A+ Certification: $40,000

Sources: ComputerJobs.com, Certification Magazine, CertITcom, Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine, Pencom Systems, Sm@rt Partner.

Topics: Tech & Work


Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, aka sjvn, has been writing about technology and the business of technology since CP/M-80 was the cutting edge, PC operating system; 300bps was a fast Internet connection; WordStar was the state of the art word processor; and we liked it.His work has been published in everything from highly technical publications... Full Bio

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