While I think what the OpenJS Foundation is doing isn't a net negative and don't think certifications should be balked at completely, a friend and colleague of mine, Michael Schofield, made some excellent points regarding certification that I hadn't thought about.
Mike-hell Maim Skullfield@cdvillard @openjsf Here's the problem. Certifications don't exist for the individual developer - they exist for the employer. You having a cert is an easier way for an employer to vet you with less likelihood they'll sink costs in an "unsure thing," or time in actually scrutinizing your portfolio05:07 AM - 23 Oct 2019
It's challenged me to re-examine my biases here a bit. If certifications continue to normalize in the industry, it can lead to employers having control of who gets in, thus gate-keeping. Certifications can also serve to put a developer in debt if they don't pan out, much like with degrees. Though I will say, to that end, someone intimate with the initiative did let me know that a diversity and inclusion program is on the wishlist to make it more accessible to those who typically can't afford it.
I encourage you to read through Michael's Twitter thread in addition to my sentiments below.
NearForm published a blog post recently written by one of their principal architects, David Clements. The piece announced the launch of two new certification programs: the OpenJS Node Services Developer (JSNSD) and OpenJS Node Application Developer (JSNAD) certifications.
The reception on Twitter that I saw was luke-warm at best. Much of the criticism was terse, primarily wondering why the OpenJS Foundation would back such an initiative. Why charge $300 for something people have been working on for years? Why introduce more gate-keeping to the industry?
David K. 🎹Developer: "I have made Node applications and services and successfully deployed them to production"
Literally no interviewer ever: "But did you spend $300 to get the certification?" twitter.com/nodejs/status/…19:49 PM - 22 Oct 2019Node.js @nodejs🎉🎉🎉Big News!! Node.js Certifications are here!!! Learn more about the programs 👇👇👇 https://t.co/Q4Vvq3rOQJ
While I pride myself on being a self-taught developer, I have done certification coursework in the past for a couple of platforms. So, in light of the recent discussion including some I was involved in, I thought I'd at least put my thoughts on the matter out there.
Many software companies and third-party vendors offer vocational training and coursework for official and unofficial certifications. Popular opinion amongst developers is that certifications are often a sinkhole for money and time, and like I said, can be used as a gate-keeping mechanism.
Charles Villard@DavidKPiano @andregce @bitandbang Never said that. I'm aware that certs are essentially the Pokemon Gym badges of the industry: not much more than something to show off to potential clients. But it can be a bit of job security. I'm self-taught, but gained a lot of my knowledge through cert courses, for example.02:53 AM - 23 Oct 2019
That's a point I can agree with. There are many certification programs that are often prohibitive to independent developers and only serve to create a false scarcity of talent for that specific work. I had such an experience earlier this year in a previous role, in which I had a soft requirement to pass a certification exam to be able to work with a large-scale CMS platform.
Despite that, I feel that certification courses can also be a benefit and boon to developers in some ways. Pulling from my own experience, I was able to participate in a vocational training course offered to me by the local government while living on food stamps in 2016. While I didn't take the certification exam and have yet to, completing the coursework was training enough to progress my career and helped me land my first full-time web development role.
While my situation is definitely unique, I find that many of the statements levied against the OpenJS certifications seem to be knee-jerk reactions to something commonly, though understandably, lambasted. Certifications and their coursework, in general, offer a structured environment or platform from which new developers or those familiar with other stacks can learn. They can also provide validation of a developer's skillset to potential clients, often in the Enterprise realm where software development is often discussed outside the engineering department at a high, unnuanced level.
None of this is to say this is a perfect solution to anything or that there is even a problem to be solved with one more certification. Many developers build careers while never taking an exam, even though many often pay for courses, whether or not a form of verification is offered. I only hope to bring forward what I feel to be several benefits to such programs existing and to hopefully open a dialogue. What have been your thoughts regarding certification programs in the tech industry? Do you feel the community will benefit from a Node certification or could this be its bane?