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Are agile, DevOps and similar certifications worth it?

Sharon Florentine | April 21, 2016
DevOps, continuous delivery, scrum and agile are all necessary skills in an IT-driven workplace. But how much can certifications in these areas really prove?

"DevOps or agile certification demonstrates that the individual has gained a good understanding of broader concepts and other skills like 'management' or 'communication.' The risk is that it is difficult to measure and benchmark these skills. One way to ensure that these certifications are valid and will produce the desired results is to do some research on the certification authority. What experience do they have in certifying this competency, and which point of view do they represent?" Alvarez says.

Training the trainer

That means that certifying bodies must also produce a body of knowledge and learning materials about their own approaches to topics and frameworks like DevOps, agile, scrum and continuous delivery to ensure candidates understand the "why" and "how" behind the best practices that they will eventually be assessed on, says Déchery.

"You not only have to produce a set of guides to cover what's on an exam, but also the approaches and frameworks that were used to come up with the certifications. You have to go into a great level of detail about what is covered on the exam, outline the topics and the approaches which are going to be covered, so they can see where you are coming from when you created the exams around these technologies. It's a way of saying, 'This is what we mean by 'best practices' and this is where our perspective is coming from," he says.

Many of these certifications are taking a "flipped classroom" approach to learning that uses hands-on experience, scenario-based training, essay questions and real-world simulations scored in real-time to gauge both technical competency and broader, less-tangible skills, says James Stanger, senior product development manager at CompTIA.

"For the last 20 or 30 years, certification has meant taking an exam. But lately we've seen an emphasis on content and courseware delivery and on the training piece. Part of that is how candidates are taught material, but also how they use that knowledge in real-world situations, how they do idea exchange and knowledge sharing. The idea is that a candidate would be given scenario-based assessments that happen in real-time, based on a set of facts and given a certain technology or framework, and then see how they respond to gauge their skill and expertise," Stanger says.

These kinds of certifications are more difficult to design, develop and deliver, but they can offer a much deeper, broader view into a candidate's potential; combining of certifications and is a great way to get an edge in the competitive hiring market. Especially in areas where experience is scarce, the next best thing may be an IT certification, says Alvarez.


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