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CCNA certificate, not equal, MIT diploma.

No IT Education:  Certifications

Seizing a business opportunity, companies — not schools — came up with networking certifications, the most popular being Cisco's (the leading network hardware company) Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), which is often a requirement for IT jobs, when there are any.

These certifications require no courses, just passing a single test any way you can. These are for-profit tests so they can't be so hard that no one will want to risk a lot of money with little chance of passing. In fact, many of these tests have no fixed passing grade. The passing grade depends on those taking the test at the same time such that a majority pass. So if, like the SAT, the test takers get stupider over the years there will still be the same number passing, the number that makes giving the test profitable.

Cisco particularly markets these certifications to foreigners because the U.S. market for them was thought to be limited due to U.S. universities, which are envied by the world, providing a much better education on the subject and being more authoritative.

The tests are of questionable integrity. If you can cheat on the more well-known so more-regulated SAT's, you can certainly far more easily cheat on the certification tests. Recently it was discovered that those giving SAT's were being bribed to change scores so that unqualified people could get into universities like Yale. If it can happen with the SAT's to get into Yale it certainly happens with these certification tests, especially in foreign countries (see No IT Education: Foreigners), where people are less scrupulous and more desperate for the relatively high-paying jobs these certifications can lead to, including coming to the U.S. (see IT Hiring: Foreigners).

The certifications are only valid for a few years, e.g. 3 for the CCNA, after which the test must be retaken. The companies say this is to keep the test takers up-to-date but the networking basics they supposedly test don't change so this is merely a profit-increasing scheme, like marketing to foreigners, to continue to make test takers pay for as long as they want to work in IT (although, practically, human resources departments either don't know about this certification expiration or don't check).

There are certification test preparation courses, like Cisco's four-course CCNA series given at a college (see No IT Education: For-Profit and Community Colleges, Other Training), lasting for an academic year, and including labs. Those who take these will almost certainly have a better understanding of the subject than someone who just learns enough on his own to pass the test. Plus, it's a lot harder to cheat your way through numerous courses, with numerous tests, than it is to cheat your way through just one test.

Still, even these courses are not sufficient for IT jobs, particularly with regards to IT security, which requires real understanding. I know from experience; see CCNA Courses (Four) from Cisco and UAF CTC in my Credentials. A BS or better (for higher positions) in an IT subject like computer science or electrical engineering — preferably both (see What Is IT? Networking) — from a good university should be required.

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