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Will experience win out over certification?

I am a 39 year old IT professional. I have a 2 year degree from 1982 and 19 years experience covering all phases of user hardware and software support and management in an MIS environment. I am currently managing a team of IT people covering 12 offices in the southeast. I have A+ and Network+ certification. Should I go back for more education and/or certification training? Or will my years of experience win out in the end?

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I've heard it said that the "one size fits all" answer to most meaningful questions in life is, "That depends." In the case of your question about certification versus experience, the "that depends" relates to whether or not you want to remain a manager or whether you'd like to become more active as an individual technical contributor. If you remain a manager, certification is nowhere near as important as prior experience and personnel management skills; if you want to switch into becoming more of an individual technical contributor, obtaining further certifications will demonstrate the kind of knowledge, commitment, and interest that your current or prospective employers will look for in somebody like yourself trying to make such a switch.

This was first published in June 2001

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