How Often Should You Be Forced To Recertify?

Certifications are often the first barrier to overcome when you’re applying for a job as an IT pro, but is a decade-old certification meaningful? And how often should professionals be forced to recertify to demonstrate their skills?

Studying picture from Shutterstock

In a press session on cloud career trends at TechEd North America 2013 this week, Microsoft learning director Ken Rosen pointed out that employers needed to check carefully before relying on certifications when hiring people.

“When you have certifications that have been around as long as ours have, there are people who can identify themselves as having those certifications even though the skill sets are so out of date those products aren’t even of use anymore,” he said.

Attention to detail also matters. For instance, while MCSE once stood for Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, it now stands for Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert — a distinction the HR department might need to be alerted to when sorting through resumes.

Many of Microsoft’s newer certifications require holders to recertify on a regular basis to demonstrate continuing familiarity with newer platform versions. The period varies depending on the certification, but every two to three years is typical. However, that poses its own challenge: with product update cycles becoming faster (Windows Server 2012 R2 is coming just a year after the original release), will those periods become shorter?

“I think that’s something we’re going to watch and we’ll see what happens,” Rosen told Lifehacker. “It depends on the pace of that change. We have to weigh the pace of change with the practicality of making people recertify. We need to balance how often professional can do this.”

The recertification process isn’t quite as complex. “That initial hump that you have to jump over to get certifications is several exams,” Rosen said. “The upgrade exams ae concise and to the point.”

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