Are IT Certifications Really Useless? A Controversial Look at Certification Value

Information technology certifications have long been seen as a valuable way for IT professionals to validate and demonstrate their skills. However, some argue that certain certifications are useless and provide little real value. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth and controversial look at the value and usefulness of some hotly debated IT certs.

The value and usefulness of IT certifications is often a topic of heated debate. While certs can open doors and provide knowledge, some argue specific ones are useless. We’ll analyse the controversy around “useless” IT certs, if any truly are useless, and the real value certifications can provide.

The Controversy Around Useless IT Certifications

In online comments and forums, certain IT certifications often get labeled as useless by some. These include:

  • CompTIA A+
  • CompTIA Network+
  • CompTIA Security+
  • Cisco CCNA
  • Microsoft MSCE
  • EC-Council CEH

People argue these provide little real value and don’t help get jobs. But are any certs truly useless? And what factors play into a certification’s perceived value and usefulness?

The Complex Value of IT Certifications

To claim any IT certification is completely useless is likely exaggerated. The very existence of a certification indicates there is some marketplace need and value.

Thousands of job postings list IT certifications as requirements or preferred credentials. The fact employers actively seek out certification holders demonstrates inherent value.

Specific certs may be more or less in demand in the marketplace. But usefulness and value depends heavily on perspective.

Valuable Skills & Knowledge

A key value of any IT certification is the knowledge and skills it provides. Earning a certification proves you have learned and mastered a specific skill set. Even if others don’t perceive external value in a cert, it holds internal value through expanded knowledge.

Validation of Competency

Passing an IT certification exam provides validation that you possess certain competencies. Even if a certification isn’t in high demand, the fact you passed an exam in that field shows a level of capability.

Supporting a Career

While no certification guarantees a job, they can support a career. Certs on a resume can make you more attractive to hiring managers. They show initiative and willingness to invest in professional development.

The right certs for your desired career path can give you a competitive edge. They indicate specialized knowledge employers may want.

Foundational Value

Some foundational certs, like CompTIA’s IT Fundamentals, provide core knowledge that supports more advanced certifications and skills. While beginner certs may not directly land jobs, they deliver informational value.

Targeted Value

More advanced certifications target specific subfields like networks, security, cloud, etc. Their specialized nature provides targeted value for particular IT roles. Just because a cert may not be useful for all jobs does not make it useless overall.

The Real Key: Combining Certifications & Experience

While certifications show knowledge and competency, they don’t automatically equal capability. Real-world experience is crucial. An abundance of either certs or experience alone tends to provide less value than a balanced combination.

Many hiring managers want expertise that certifications support and complement. Those who discount certifications as useless may lack the experience to make their credentials shine.

The more pertinent a certification is to a particular role, the more directly useful it typically is. But blanket claims of uselessness around certifications tend to be exaggerated.


In the complex IT industry, blanket claims that certain certifications are useless or have no value are difficult to justify. All IT certs serve needs for at least some subset of professionals.

While some certifications are undoubtedly more valued and in-demand than others, few could be considered objectively useless. Much depends on a cert’s applicability to someone’s desired career path and experience level.

Rather than dismissing certifications as useless, it’s more constructive to analyze their applicability. The right certification can provide knowledge, fill skills gaps, validate competencies, enhance a resume, and support career advancement in the dynamic IT field.