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Potential Problems

With the recognition factor so important, it may seem that vendor-specific certification is the natural and best choice, but that would be too simplistic. The reality is that vendor-specific certifications do an unquestionably good job of teaching candidates about the strengths and features of a specific product or operating system. Most, through the use of a prerequisite list, evade the need to teach basic skills. In addition, with a few exceptions, many teach material in an almost bubble-like environment, acknowledging but not including details of other products.

Vendor-neutral certification answers this problem, since it is neutral and offers some clear advantages over the vendor-specific model. Most obviously, vendor independence makes it possible for certification providers to include what they feel are the relevant and required issues facing those working in IT, not just those that relate to a specific product. Though few do, they can also address the shortcomings of a given product or technology that, understandably, vendor-specific certifications shy away from.

If there is a problem with vendor-independent certification, perhaps it is a lack of focus within vendor-specific programs. It is a problem not easily addressed: Increase the focus, and people find it easier to quantify the skills being attained. But increasing the focus can also detract from the impartiality and generality that causes many people to seek vendor-independent certifications in the first place.

Of course, some sectors of the certification industry lend themselves better to generalized curriculum than others. Where sectors of the market exist that are already well represented by vendor-specific certifications, a similar level of vendor-independent options are available, though this provides a number of challenges to vendor-independent providers. In such a market, vendor-independent providers must not only produce a viable and worthwhile program, but they must also compete with the more prominent vendor-specific providers.

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