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    The Cheapening of Certification


      I know that I'm not the first one to rant about this and certainly won't be the last. What gets my back up though is when seemingly endless people around me take it for granted that "dumps" are a perfectly normal and acceptable form of gaining certification. A little background here: I'm working in Saudi Arabia as a transmission engineer on the optical backbone of a carrier. Almost all of the staff in my department and a good portion of the staff in the data NOC are from Asia - without naming a particular country.


      For these people it is critical to get ahead and as quickly as possible. I can understand that and relate to it. Whenever they speak about certification though, they are almost always interested in getting the "latest dumps" from each other. I find it infuriating - it took me 14 months of study between shifts and family obligations to attain my CCNA and upon getting it really felt like I had achieved something. In countries like Saudi though (as in many countries nowadays), the companies are looking to employ cheap labour and their main prioriity is that the staff are qualified. When speaking to some of these guys though (or looking at the trouble tickets that they work upon) I am dismayed at the lack of knowledge. I have spoken to CCNPs in the data department who either couldn't help me with subnetting or didn't even know about the Hyperterminal settings for accessing a router. When querying them about this I get answers like, "oh well the CCNA was so long ago, I have forgotten that knowledge and anyway don't need it anymore". (?!)


      I have seen in the past couple of years that more and more of these "cheap" staff are being employed - not just by our carrier but throughout the corporate sector too. We are struggling to deal with people who are really quite clueless. I honestly believe that in a few years it will become a snowball effect - either people achieve certification faster than their counterparts or they won't get employment. This will lead to a huge number of people cheating, just so that they can get along.


      Sorry, I am really frustrated and am trying to be diplomatic about what I write. Have any of you also had similar experience in your surrounding environment?

        • 1. Re: The Cheapening of Certification



          sharing same sentiment, i found mostly of them are inexperienced.

          There are plenty who are fresh grads from college who have attained CCNA just by the books and labs. I believed the trend in some places would be to get certified first before you get your actual/hands-on in the real world. But in my view, it's very different when attaining a CCNP, you have to have an extensive exposure on the real equipments and do a lot of effort studying first to gain your CCNP.




          • 2. Re: The Cheapening of Certification

            Hi Rob


            I do not think this is specific to Cisco. Qualifications do seem to be spiriling out of control. If you look at the CCNP it is much narrower than the CCNP five years ago. The reality the more equipment Cisco sells the more Cisco technicians we need. The greater availibility of Cisco technicians the greater confidence when buying Cisco equipment to be able to recruit staff with Cisco knowledge. The greater number of people working towards Cisco certification the greater the revenue stream for Cisco Training Partners.


            So nobody in Cisco is going to make the certificates harder without damaging the market place. If companies are genuinely interested in peoples ability thay can independently test them but it is so easy to send somebody out to site and provide a support service at a central resource.


            There is an old rule that only 10% of the people actually add value to an organisation but you need the other 90% to demonstrate the quality of the 10%.


            Regards Conwyn

            • 3. Re: The Cheapening of Certification
              Steven Williams

              And yet another "dump" post. We recently had a pretty big thread on this somewhere on CLN.

              • 4. Re: The Cheapening of Certification

                I hear and understand you mate. It is still very frustrating though to see your hard work diminished by numerous people who can't be bothered to put the effort in. The problem has become so widespread now that I have heard about one of the consultancy agencies here (working world-wide) are not wanting to employ any more people from certain regions, as their capabilites are very questionable.

                • 5. Re: The Cheapening of Certification
                  Scott Morris - CCDE/4xCCIE/2xJNCIE

                  Yup, it's frustrating.   Yup, it's sad.  but look at it a little differently.


                  Any time I see a company with a cadre of clueless engineers, I shake my head.  It's sad, really...  but at the same time, it's a sales or consulting opportunity.


                  You and I both know that they don't know anything.  So we know they can't really DO anything of any value.  So, how do you translate that into opportunity.


                  Offer network assessments.  The depth of assessment will depend on how much you're getting paid for it.  But focus on "helping" them fix issues with their network.  It doesn't take an engineer to know their network is running poorly.


                  But yes, it is a sad state when people do that.  Don't let it get you down though, let it motivate you to figure out how to demonstrate that you are far better off than they are!



                  • 6. Re: The Cheapening of Certification

                    You know, you have just made my day Scott. I was feeling miserable but you've put it all back into perspective. At the end of the day they won't really get anywhere. I'll just keep my head down and look after myself

                    • 7. Re: The Cheapening of Certification
                      Mike Gannon

                      Hi Rob,

                      Having just taken an exam I don't think its possible to pass the exams by brain dumps alone. I've only taken the CCENT so maybe I'm not best placed to answer. The simlets mean you need to be able to see whats missing/broken and fix it, and there is a lot of subnet calculation too. Skills you can't get from dumps alone.

                      • 8. Re: The Cheapening of Certification

                        You're right up to a point there Mike. From what I hear though the dumps also give some indication on what simlets to expect. So in a way, yes the people must have the knowledge but on the other hand are able to target their studies for the examined material. This might get them through the exam but I'm sure that very soon afterwards they forget the 'learned' knowledge.

                        • 9. Re: The Cheapening of Certification

                          The problem is that big companies like CISCO, Microsoft, Oracle, etc make huge money out of certification and create technicians/Engineer/Professional (rather say their flag carrier) for free. In past when companies used to hire any engineer/professional they used to train them first with proper skills to fit into company. But today hunger for profit has led to hire for cheap but the best available in the market. Since Cisco, Microsoft, Oracle etc has cunningly designed testing system for their products so that they can create their flag carrier for free and yet earn money out of it, thus maximizing their profit. Certification is great tool for big companies like CISCO, Microsoft or Oracle and rest to produce flag carrier for free and earn money through certificate. They can control the certificate market easily by raising/lowering the pass mark whenever they like to control the number of certification and its value.


                          Let me tell you most of certificate holders or hardworking test takers are from the third world countries like India, Bangladesh, Pakistan- poor Asian countries. Living standard and earning power in these countries are so low that they cannot afford to pay high price for CISCO equipments. So only option remains for them to use simulators and other test materials and if you feel very pity for them then why not make Packet Tracer  and other Cisco Learning Materials free(open Source) and ask Cisco to donate those old useless routers and switches to these poor areas so that these poor folks can get practice on real equipment. What do you think?

                          • 10. Re: The Cheapening of Certification

                            I agree that the accessibility of study aids must be given to all. I strongly believe that Cisco should support either a full open-source application (similar to GNS3 but better) or they should develop a full (free) application where all certifications are catered for.

                            • 11. Re: The Cheapening of Certification

                              Hi Rob


                              Why would Cisco wish to harm the Training Partners. Cisco certification is similar to education if you want a well paid job then you have to pay to acquire the necessary skills. So  similarlly if you want to have a well paid Cisco job why not pay for the privilledge? There is a commercial argument for providing introductionary education in the developing world if you can show it would lead to sales but in the developed work the market is working quite well.


                              The danger with free Cisco is you flood the market and create unemployment which causes good people to lose their jobs and new people struggling to find work. This would create an environment where the CCIE would be the entry certification. There are already reports on CLN of CCIE working on help desk because they have no real experience. If you can duplicate simlets you can duplicate CCIE labs.


                              Regards Conwyn

                              • 12. Re: The Cheapening of Certification

                                I understand the frustration.  People who are dishonest and lie or cheat to reach any achievement are only hurting themselves and their employers.  Eventually, it will catch up to them.  When we look for network engineers I look at their experience first, then the certifications second.  We hired one engineer doing it the opposite, and he had a CCNP, but no experience what so ever.  Needless to say, he didn't last long.  My personal opinion is that if one has a certification at the professional level, then they should have some experience.  Do you know professionals in any field who don't have experience?  That is how they become professionals, by gaining experience, not by the level of certification they earn.


                                I worked 22 months for my CCNP and very glad that I had the experience behind it, otherwise I would never have passed it.

                                • 13. Re: The Cheapening of Certification

                                  There is a catch 22 in here - how to ensure nobody can "dump" tests, while at the same time, keeping them affordable and still pertinent to the target material(aka, topics).


                                  You can add more simulations, and cycle them through more often, but that requires more man power, and presumably making the exam more expensive to deliver.  Eventually they will look to recoup the R&D on those simlets/simulations.


                                  You could do the same with the question bank, ensure there are 12,000 questions to pick from for each individual exam, making it impossible for people to dump the test.  I've heard some exams have question bank depth of only 100-200 questions, and while I wholeheartedly disagree with dumping, memorizing 200 questions is not hard to do in the period of 24-48 hours.  Easy way out.


                                  Cisco has already moved to eliminate testing by proxy by photographing people and keeping that on file.




                                  Unfortunately, as long as there are people who are willing to pay for the easy way out, there will be a market for brain dumps, test questions, illicit exam coaching, etc.



                                  On the flip side, isn't it the employer's job of vetting candidates?  I have conducted enough interviews - and been interviewed enough times - to know that there are some very easy questions to identify paper dragons or dumpers. Cisco is responsible for only so much of the candidate lifecycle - their responsibility ends when they give you a certification with an expiration date.  After that, it is up to the companies to weed through the candidates.  I guess what I am saying is that you cannot blame Cisco for companies who want to hire cheap help and/or do not properly execute interviewing and hiring practices.

                                  • 14. Re: The Cheapening of Certification
                                    Scott Morris - CCDE/4xCCIE/2xJNCIE
                                    Cisco has already moved to eliminate testing by proxy by photographing people and keeping that on file.



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