Security Certifications

A couple of days ago I encountered a person whose business card made reference to no less than 5 different information security related certifications. Should I be impressed? The answer is simple: yes I am! Let me explain.

We seem to be very hasty to pour scorn onto fellow professionals who flaunt their certification credentials. A few years ago I achieved MCSD (Microsoft Certified Software Developer) status. The entire process required a good deal of study, no small amount of time and a fair amount of personal expense. However, as I proudly displayed my new Microsoft Professional card around the office, the overwhelming opinion of my colleagues at the time was that all it meant was that I could study the required texts and pass a multiple choice exam. However, the certification opened a few doors for me and a couple of years later I found myself in a position where I was interviewing candidates for development roles. I would then give preference to the MCSD certified candidates every time because, practical skills aside, their certificate demonstrated back to me that they were passionate about their career, and had studied their field in depth.

These days I am the proud holder of a CISSP certification. Again, I studied hard to achieve it, and sweated through the 250 question exam at my own personal expense. What did it do for me? Well, for starters it got my foot in the door to be considered for my current role and five years later I still maintain my CPE account and am still proud of the achievement. While the certification itself does not prove that I am competent do perform any sort of job, what it does prove it that there is some commitment to learn and achieve and improve as a professional – and of course, that I do actually know a thing or two.

Then we go back to the point about flaunting our certifications on business cards and in our email signatures. My view is that I’ve worked for it, I’ve passed the test, I’ve paid for it, I’m going to show it off! Right at this moment in time I’m waiting for the results of the final part of five years hard study in my part-time towards a masters degree. If I’ve passed then you can bet your boots that I’ll be shouting it out from the rooftops.

So, back to the chap displaying his five certifications. Good on you! It shows a true commitment to the profession and a willingness to keep on learning, and in my book those are good qualities for anyone to want to display.