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53 Comments

Do you believe that certificates matter?

Hi 🙈

I am a edtech founder who is working on credentials, certificates, badges.

Do you believe that credentials prove something, that they acknowledge about someone's skills?

Really appreciate all the thoughts and thanks in advance!

PS: we have launched a side-product on Product Hunt, it would mean a lot to me if you check it out:
https://www.producthunt.com/posts/designer-by-sertifier

Do you believe that certificates prove something?
  1. Yes
  2. No
Vote
  1. 7

    My Linkedin is flooded by people posting their certifications, each from differents provider. The trouble is that you can't really know if they are worth something, the only way is to look at what someone is capable of doing. That doesn't mean work within a company or stuff, but I feel like side projects open-sourced or not are the way to measure the skills of someone and his interest in a field.

    So, no I don't think certificates matters a lot

    1. 1

      I will be adding detail to your comments. Actually you are labeling all credentials as certificates. Certificates are proof of learning for more than 6 months but badges or similar objects are just small achievements that are not direct proof of ability or knowledge. In the end, the people you are criticizing in your comment are only posting their microlearning credentials and I totally agree, they are nonsense :)

    2. 1

      Yes, I can totally understand the confusion on whether they are worth or not. Would you feel more comfortable about them if every one of the certificates carry out the necessary information like the materials, readings, videos used in the program, and how well the student performed on each of them?

      1. 3

        Hmm, not really actually.

        But if at the end of each lecture (or X lectures), the student has to build something, you can list what are the features or notion included in the created stuff.

        This way people get to see a real case scenario and it gives the student confidence about what he/she can do.
        I know many people who can answer quizz easily because they have knowledge, but can't actually do anything

        1. 1

          That is a good point but yet again I would argue that not every skill is not allowing someone to create stuff. But if I were to change the education program of all others that allows like engineering stuff, that totally makes sense.

  2. 5

    I believe what proves someone's skill is their projects and experience.

    1. 2

      I can’t agree with this. This is why LinkedIn is so useless.

      I don’t necessarily have a skill because I worked on a project or did a job. Most things are accomplished by teams and teams can easily carry a talentless idiot. Happens a LOT.

      Annoying thing is that these people are usually the loudest to shout about being on a successful project even if they did nothing.

      Actual ability, proven or demonstrated is the only way.

    2. 1

      That is certainly true but

      What do you think about people who are young (right out of college etc.) who may have not the chance to be in projects and gain experience?

      1. 2

        You can code your own projects, you don't need to be in one.

        I don't know how do you expect to get hired without having several projects to show.

      2. 1

        Even at uni you have projects, coursework. Even if small they show how problems haven been tackled.

  3. 4

    To further elaborate on my other comment. I recently interviewed someone who could answer NOTHING. I tried.

    How would you breakdown this project? What do you think is wrong with this user flow? Etc etc.

    She got really distressed in the interview and actually said to me “why am I being asked these questions? I worked at [company name]”

    When she didn’t get the job she complained to our HR and said that “it was extremely apparent that I wanted to hire a young male”

    Firstly - that was just total garbage and secondly - no, you didn’t get the job because you were shite.

  4. 4

    In my opinion certificates have a positive value, but it heavily depends who issued the certificate.

    1. 1

      What would it make you to trust an issuing party? Is it just their competency on the job or something else?

      1. 2

        Certifications for AWS, GCP, Azure and so on would be some that I would trust due to the companies behind them, especially since it's the certifications for their own products.

  5. 3

    While I answered "Yes" to the question, it was different to the one in the title, to which I'd have to answer: "It depends."

    I don't care so much about certification, but then I expect it's important in IT.

    Yes, certification is a proof of something, but does it provide proof of competence under pressure, confidence, a willingness to contribute, or be part of a team? Those are qualities that make a big difference.

    1. 1

      Do you believe that such conditions can be replicated in a educational program? Like a simulation of real life where all of the skills you presented are considered and valued?

      1. 1

        I would imagine the big corporations are using some type of Derren Brown psychometric weirdness during the recruitment phase!

        Almost everything is measurable.

  6. 2

    I would also like to add, if anyone is reading my comments here and especially my answers to other people, I am not trying to support any idea but rather than just state some opposite arguments that may not be totally clear in the first place. I would like to get the chance to hear everyone's ideas to their full extent because there are some really good aspects to be explored coming from all of you, so thank you once more!

    1. 1

      Just random thoughts here for a bit of meta. I think your question here is good because people will poke a lot of obvious holes in the topic. But I also think you got the wrong audience here for your product and the idea. Indie Hackers are, well, hackers. They hack on things not for a certificate. They wanna know hours things work. Or they wanna solve a problem. Or build something.

      Certificates will not have a lot of value for such people. Only proven "side projects" (that someone works more then they work on their day job).

      So if you're looking for feedback on your product, I think it would be more fruitful, more relevant to for product, you get feedback from places where the certs do give value. I'm sure you've thought of that yourself but I just wanted to bring it up.

      On topic; it depends. I do think that the in certain places, certain certificates give value. If I wanted to hire a freelancer to deploy me something on AWS I'd much much rather have the person with the AWS certs then the one without, all other things being equal. On the other hand, if I was looking for a dev to build me a web application, a "Angular dev" certificate from a random website (they're schools, but to me they're just websites) would probably not mean a lot.

  7. 2

    I don't have a Yes or No answer, if I must choose I'll say No.
    I don't think that certifications (and diploma) shows a competence.
    It's hard to prove the learning and practice you had. Additionally, some certifications require little efforts (< 2hours)

    Although, I think certifications are great to:

    • communicate (personal and edtech-wise)
    • show a genuine interest in a variety of subjects
    • show a curiosity (mandatory for many professional e.g. Growth Hacker) or a willingness to learn on your own
    • ""SEO"" on LinkedIn and elsewhere to be feature on more keywords

    A certification can also show a mindset or a personality which can be highly relevant for recruiter/company/clients.

    I my case, I would definitely display a certifications that I had.

    --

    That's a great product you've created, I didn't try it as I don't have any certificate to design, but I've bookmarked it. And I've shown that I think you Product is worth it on Product Hunt.

    1. 1

      Your approach on certificates are quite valid and I loved the idea that it helps with the personal "SEO"!

      --

      Thanks a lot on the comments for our product!

      1. 2

        You're welcome! Love to help :)

  8. 2

    Credentials are of low value outside the fields of:

    Finance
    Law
    Medical
    Engineering
    Science

    1. 1

      By finance do you mean financial analysis sort of professions or like certified accountants?

  9. 2

    I am only referring to technology here. Certifications do not mean a lot to me

    The challenge I have with certifications is that some people complete a course, get certified and it is never used again in the same capacity.

    I much prefer to look at someones experience and past projects if they can share those projects. Even for graduates, they normally complete some course work or project as part of their studies, which I prefer to understand and look at.

    1. 1

      Technology field suits this well, because it is often easier to start a project and push it to gitHub. For other soft-skills, I would not be so sure. A college graduate cannot be a part of a huge marketing project to show but yet again, they actually could have if they were founding a startup or something like that.

      Question is whether we should expect something like that from everyone? and if we could ever...

      1. 1

        Technology or soft skills, I take the same approach as even if I look at their projects or past work, I'm more interested in what the person brings, hence why I referenced that I prefer to also look at someones experience. When I say experience, that includes their approach to things - this is perhaps for me even more important.

        Should we expect something like that from everyone, for me, yes. If they cannot show a project or previous work, that's perfectly fine with me (I've experienced it numerous times), so I like to talk about how they would approach something. Even with previous projects and work, I always want to know about their experience and approach.

  10. 2

    I’m a hiring manager at a large tech company. I’ve hired designers, product managers, engineers, and customer success managers. I have never, not once, considered a certification during the screening process or asked about them during the interview.

    I’m a data point of one, obviously, but we’re trained to look at certifications as potential red flags for people unwilling or unable to adapt to other ways of doing things. I do acknowledge that some certifications, like for doctors and lawyers and many other roles, are totally critical. I’m sure people out there have the totally opposite perspective than me, but I thought I’d give you a point of view from someone who hires folks making well into the six figures.

    1. 1

      I really appreciated your comment.

      Obviously, for people who are able to present their work with previous experience, this is great.

      But I find it fascinating that certificates can be a red flag and they have such a bad reputation. Do you have any idea how that can be overcome?

      And are you aware of Google's certificate programs and newly established degree programs? What would you think about their effect and how would you approach to them?

      1. 2

        I think the reputation of the certificate itself is necessary for overcoming it. Getting a M.D. implies such a body of knowledge and practical experience that they're given a higher status. Hell, in New York, they can get specialized "physician" license plates. Declaring that you have a certification for being an Oracle database administrator could mean literally anything, including nothing.

        The certificate needs to be well-understood as a proxy for quality. So far, the computing field has a shortage of these, and honestly we probably overrate the ones that are universally valued (like computer science degrees).

        1. 1

          Never heard about the license plates! That is really interesting...

          I got your point and that makes a lot of sense. I guess what the society and the market in general need is transparency. With a good deal of transparency you should achieve the right understanding of how much something, a degree or a licensing should be worth. It is counterintuitive in the sense that many programs would be afraid of going the open to the world, whereas it would actually help them.

      2. 1

        The certificate, or even a college degree, doesn't help me determine if someone is capable of doing the job I'm hiring for. It might spark some different questions or discussion topics, but I have not seen a correlation between certificate and capability.

        Take PMP certifications, for instance. If you pay the fees and do the time, you can get one. Does that mean you are good at the job? Nope.

  11. 1

    While skills acquired are valuable, credentials acquired are only as valuable as their prestige. It's hard to make a widely available, affordable certificate prestigious - it lacks scarcity.

  12. 1

    I think it depends on each person's context. If you have followed the route of computer science, software engineering or similar majors, you already have a built-in knowledge base which helps you to plan your path and careers. On the other hand, if you are starting from scratch, then a certification may give some sort of structured learning to focus on

  13. 1

    Everyone saying that certificates are not important is wrong. Why? If you see a certificate as a piece of paper, of course, you are right on this matter. But if the certificate can tell you how did you gain it by doing what then it will become a thing that may matter to the workforce. No experience or and education can prove that you are capable of doing sth. In the end, you spent a sequence of your life doing "something" but that does not mean you learned something. Abilities, skills, and competencies can be learned and gained. At the same time, they are individuals. You cannot get bulk skills by doing a single job. You need to define every piece of work by relating it with skill. Certificates have been the greatest tool to define a human's skills- individual skills. If we can upload intelligence to them, then they may become a thing that is effective in the 2020s. All in all, smart certificates are the only need.

  14. 1

    This is a fascinating question. I sit squarely on the fence with a typical "it depends" response.

    Your doctor, lawyer and CPA have certificates (or diplomas, w/e).

    Objectively, documents are proof of something, of course, but that something does not include competency.

    My lawyer is fantastic, but some are total airheads.
    My accountant is good, but some are world-class.

    They all have the same or similar papertrail.

    The document certifies something - that is to say that it offers certainty regarding a specific trait, not necessarily skill, aptitude, or even attitude.

    In Canada, afaik, commercial pilots must accumulate 2,000 hours of flight time after obtaining their private license to be able to apply for commercial jobs.

    Their certificate of 2,000 hours of experience, says quite a bit about the pilot who holds it. In this case, the document certifies that Jane Doe flew for 2,000 hours. You can make a solid call about this persons ability to fly an aircraft. 2,000 hours of flight is a big deal.

    All this to say:

    I think certificates matter only if they measure skill & aptitude with an objective metric. Otherwise, I'd rather judge the employee based on output, attitude and writing skills.

  15. 1

    Well certification can have 2 value:

    • You learn something from preparing for it
    • It make you client/job provider file safe to start cooperating

    From my experience certification can help break the ice to get a job, but you need to deliver behind that.

  16. 1

    Personally, I hate certification. Probably because I really dislike the school system.

    As a self-taught developer, I learn based on what I am trying to accomplish. If I need to learn Adobe XD or develop an API for my SaaS, I take a course or read a book that helps me figure out how to accomplish a certain task.

    In my experience, people have hired me for jobs because they see the different things I can deliver. They don't care what certifications I have. (P.S. I have none).

    For me as a freelancer, my portfolio of solo projects is my "certification".

    There's a big 'BUT' though. It depends on the industry. I used to run a business in a health-related industry (Spinal Rehabilitation), and some customers would not try my service because I did not have a degree. I was more than able to perform the service, but I really had to try hard to persuade some customers that I knew what I was doing, before they would agree to try it out.

    UPDATE: I got my last job as a Data Analyst with no certification. I think character is way more important than certification. I'd rather work with a newbie that has integrity and is teachable, than a PhD that can't be taught.

  17. 1

    I think it depends. Certainly, most certificates these days from colleges and universities are standard. Unfortunately, this does not promote a 'skill' but rather the necessary amount of knowledge to get a passing grade. But, that doesn't necessarily mean for some students it isnt a learning experience. It really depends on the student, what the student is trying to achieve, and ultimately what the employer deems important (getting hired as a result).

    1. 1

      But are we really expecting "everyone" in a society to fulfill the full requirements of skills or some situations would be enough to have that knowledge to get a passing grade? I guess your question on the end comes to that as well, which I find to be a compelling argument. It depends on the people who are engaging with it and I think this is something we should be considering in evaluating these.

  18. 1

    Certificates mean jack unless they are being provided by a recognised, accredited and compliant body.

    1. 1

      I am asking out of professional curiosity 😂 :

      What would it take to be a recognized, accredited and compliant body? Which institutions are good enough to provide that? If you are suggesting a government body then I would ask what makes them legitimate in many aspects that they are not an expert of.

      1. 1

        I mean schools, universities and then beyond that things that are chartered; like chartered accountant, chartered chemist.

        Things that are held to high scrutiny and recognised globally.

        For example I am a certified scrum master & product owner but it means absolutely jack shit. You pay your money, go on a course and get the certificate. It's utterly worthless in the real world.

  19. 1

    Absolutely not.
    Worthless.

    1. 1

      Under any condition? Wouldn't it be too reckless just to ignore a whole system of proof? 😂🙈

      1. 1

        It used to be like that before...

  20. 1

    I would say no, unless you're in the field of helping/saving other people's lifes: i.e. Health Practicioners, Lawyers.

    Even so, experience is king, but being able to prove you went through rigorous training is also good.

    1. 2

      But why should any credentialing be different than health practitioners and lawyers? There's actually quite a debate on the liberal economics usually spoken by Milton Friedman about that credentialing also should be abolished on those two as well:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xku_CmfuLvo

      Not that I follow this to its full extent but it is curious to think about stuff like that if you like to hear it 😂 I am an economics major too so that kinda stuff interests me.

  21. 1

    I think it certainly depends on the field. Like someone said before me, I wouldn't want to get treated by an uncertified doctor. There are certain fields in which certificates come with a lot of experience and practice. In these fields, certificates matter.

  22. 1

    I think it really depends on the goal of the person who is taking a course.
    Do you want to appy to companies? Get a loan for a business?

    I think even within a professional fields it really depends. E.g. in Design (UX/UI) you can stand out by having a stunning portfolio without any certificate. But when it comes to tool oriented work like handling marketing tools like a Google Display Manager or SEO Keyword Tools or so it can help to show that you have an understanding if you have a certificate. Especially if you are a job transitioner/changer. Or if you are taking to banks you can show your "expertise" by a certificate.

    In general my feeling is people who are new to a certain field can show that they have spent time dwelling into theory, but as always the practical knowledge is far more important.

  23. 1

    I absolutely believe that certificates have meaning and value to those who think/believe/know that by the process of certification, meaning and value can be assessed.

    That means that it completely depends on the actual process that is used to certify. It is a very meta thing. If the process itself is certifiable, then the result is certifiable too. In tech, we have this with the SSL certificates that enable HTTPS on websites. There is a whole chain of certification services involved, all going back to a few root certification institutions that we deemed trustworthy. The trust of the whole systems rests on those institutions being trustworthy and the process of certificate-chaining to be uncheatable.

    In EdTech, this can be used as well. At FeedbackPanda, the EdTech SaaS we sold last year, we actually at one point considered spinning off a side-project that would certify Online Teachers to have mastered computers and online teaching. We didn't go through with it, but there was some pull in the market. So.. yeah, certs work :)

    1. 1

      PERSONALLY, I don't like certification. Particularly not in individual education. I dropped out of a few universities, so I am biased. But don't underestimate the market you're serving. They are VERY different in their requirements, and even with colleges and universities struggling right now, certification will remain relevant for a bit longer.

  24. 1

    This is kinda the age-old debate of college vs self-taught.

    Whenever I was hiring, no certificates or any experience means a no-no. A reputable certificate gives me the knowledge that at least you know what you're talking about, and that you're actually teach-able (if that's even a word). Bashing certifications and formal knowledge because they're somehow "evil" or w/e, just makes me dislike you even more.

    Also no, some random projects you've done for yourself doesn't make me want to hire you. I've had instances like these, when the chick literally went "why do we need MQs, just buy more servers"...

    So yeah, formal knowledge or actual decent self-taught knowledge is important. Meaning, certificates do help.

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