Qualifications versus Certifications – From an IT industry perspective

In technology industry there is a big challenge related to human resources skills, in order to ensure a company has the right set of competencies either in business or technical field. There is actually a common accepted misunderstanding regarding qualification and certification words. The market does not have a clear distinction of those concepts and even individuals, when asked to obtain certain competencies, do not actually bother if it is in the form of a qualification or certification.

From a company standpoint, it is imperative to be proactive, rather than reactive, when it comes to grant the right level of hard skills in house. But how then should companies ensure the proper training for its employees?

Regarding qualification, a qualified employee is the one that can perform the necessary task at the required level. Qualification can be granted through online research, at the comfort of a workstation and a short exam is also required, but it is not proctored. Hence, it is a process that can be easily scaled in order to have many stakeholders worldwide qualifying themselves at the very same time. Due to its simple process, qualification enables for a quicker time-to-market, while being cost-effective. However, this does not have the strict rigor as a certification process does.

In terms of the right target public for a qualification, it is usually applied to those employees who need updated information at a rapid pace, since products are dynamic and constantly evolving, so pre-sales and sales workforce is quite suitable for qualification process, since in enables them to have a good time-to-market.

However, it is important to know that qualification process does not ensure the registered person is the same one that is doing the online test and also, it may not be legally defensible.

Many companies are also offering qualification programs as a complement to its certification program.

Regarding certification, or rather, professional certification, it is where an employee is granted as being able to perform a certain job with the right competence level, by passing a formal proctored examination. These certifications are usually awarded by universities, professional societies or private certifiers that are interested in increasing standards, and they frequently follow a licensing-like model.

That said, certifications typically are valid for a certain period of time after which they have to be renewed. In the renewal process, it is also usual to have to provide evidences of a continuous learning method. As target audience of such certifications, it usually includes the employees that are engaged with technical or application management.
In short, both qualification and certification are important and refer to an individual’s competencies. We cannot say that one is better than other; it rather is suitable for slightly different purposes.

One thing one should know is that a certification is portable, since it is company agnostic. It actually stands for an employee resume and competencies, as a third-party guarantee that the employee has a set of certain skills and hence is eligible for the purpose or job in which those are a critical success factor.


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Salim Karim