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To Recertify Or Not To Recertify

Is recertification a prudent and necessary investment in your career, or just a time-consuming headache? Consider the rationales both for and against recertification before you make a final decision.

Recertification can feel like a lot of movement with no forward progress.Ask nearly any IT professional about the "certification treadmill" and you will get back a knowing smile, or perhaps an exasperated sigh. IT training and certification programs are regularly being updated to new versions, or in some cases completely replaced with all-new curriculum and exams. This is the nature of the IT industry, and other industries such as mechanical engineering, which are home to regular advancements and rapid changes.


These changes often require certified IT professionals to recertify a credential in order to hang on to it. Without recertifying, an IT worker may end up having their certification reclassified to a "legacy" credential, or may completely lose the designation they had previously earned.


Renewing a certification is sometimes as simple as paying an appropriate membership fee to a vendor or industry organization. On the other hand, recertification can involve having to take the latest version of the related certification exam(s), or could even require an IT pro to provide evidence showing they have performed specific industry-related activities since they first earned their certification.


Why Recertify?


So yes, recertifying can be an onerous task, and there are pros and cons to renewing an industry credential. Here are three good reasons why you should recertify:


1) It's beneficial to update your knowledge.


This is the most obvious reason to keep your certifications up-to-date. IT professionals are expected to be lifelong learners, and industry training and certification programs are an excellent way to refresh and add to your knowledge. The more you know, the more valuable you can be to an employer (or to a client if you are working as a contractor).


A condensed five-day course is often enough to prepare an experienced IT pro to pass a new certification exam, and bring their previously-earned credentials back into play.


2) It could become an employer requirement.


It is a good idea to recertify if only because your current employer — or a future employer — could make holding a certification a requirement for your job. Even if your employer doesn't currently have this requirement, the situation could change if they choose to become partners with a technology vendor like Microsoft or Cisco, or with an industry association like ISACA or CompTIA. A common requirement for companies looking to partner with an IT vendor or association is that they must have a minimum number of relevant certified professionals on staff.


If you let your certification lapse in this situation, then you could find yourself on the outside looking in.