Are IT Certifications in Your Sights?

Technical certifications can give an IT professional a leg up in employment; they're a great way to further careers for those who don't have considerable work experience in IT products, services, and technology. Certifications are regularly used to evaluate potential candidates for positions or to assess a current employee. And often, certifications can help boost a person's income.

I wanted to know more about the value of certifications, so I contacted Graham Francis, CEO of The SIP School, a leader in online SIP training and certification offering technical education on SIP and other programs like networking for VoIP, WebRTC, and sales training. Francis took some time to answer some of my questions about certifications, and here's what I found out.

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Certification in our industry is quite common. What does the certification mean?

Certification means that the student has attained the level of knowledge in the training program to pass the certification test and thus prove to employers/clients that they have the requisite knowledge for a specific job role.

IT certifications involve computer technology. Depending on the particular certification, qualifications may include completing a course of study or attaining a grade on an examination. Certifications are intended to establish that an individual holding on is technically qualified to hold a particular job.

Does The SIP School offer certifications for its training?

All our training courses provide a certification test.

How important is SIP training certification?

Every year in our annual survey, we ask a question about the SIP School Certification Associate (SSCA) certification we offer, and each year, over 87% of respondents tell us that they think a SIP certification is important to them and the industry.

When a person wants to be certified in SIP trunking, what do they have to complete?

SIP trunking is a major component of the SSCA SIP training program, yet it's important that anyone who needs to work with SIP trunks also understands security, NAT traversal, troubleshooting, performance settings, and other complimentary topics that are all covered in the program. The SSCA certification is for all of the SIP training modules, of which SIP trunking is one.

How does certification help the employee in their career?

It proves to the employer that they have employees who understand SIP to a high technical level and are ready to learn about and work with the employer's own products and services by now having this knowledge. Certification also helps with the potential for promotion, increase in salary, finding a job, as well as improving the individual's professional image.

How does certification help the employer?

Employers know that its staff, whether existing people or new hires, are all trained to a good standard level of competence in SIP and can thus further train people on its own specific products. It also informs its clients that its people are certified with an industry recognized certification. On a more practical note, having people certified (in our example on SIP), will mean that people will be able to understand and resolve customer issues more quickly, thus (in the case of network connectivity) reducing any downtime for SIP trunks.

If the employer is a vendor, provider, or MSP, how does certification help demonstrate the organization's competence?

Clearly, by telling people that your staff is certified, it demonstrates the employer's commitment to developing its staff to ensure they can competently provide the services sold to customers. People move around, and thus customers need to be assured that when their contacts at a vendor or provider move on, their replacements are of the same competency level. Utilizing recognized certifications can help prove this to customers.

Is one-time certification good forever or do people have to recertify periodically with the SIP School?

As SIP evolves, the certification program does as well, thus The SIP School certification has to be renewed every two years.

I investigated whether certification is the end goal or part of a continuing process. There are two paths available for the certified person. In both cases, the employee becomes more valuable. Many certifications may require continued certification (CEUs) and possibly re-testing to remain certified. Even if the person does not choose to pursue additional certifications, the continued re-certification keeps them valuable.

The second path is to pursue more certifications. This can be accomplished by pursuing more advanced certifications in the same product or service or expanding knowledge by attaining a broader range of certifications. Either of these choices will expand the possibilities for employment. Consulting firms and resellers also look for certifications because they produce a better chance of acquiring work as a consultant, sales as a reseller, or contracts as a managed service provider.

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