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Certified Paths to Success

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With so many types of certification programs available, which one is the "right" one for you? This article from Certification Magazine looks at one of the first considerations: choosing a vendor-neutral or vender-specific certification.
This article is reprinted here with permission from Certification Magazine.

Never before has certification been so bewildering. The sheer number and variety of programs can leave those new to the industry confused as to which option is the right one. The temptation for many is to choose those certifications that are the most prominent and offered directly from manufacturers and vendors. This could be a mistake. Many of the vendor-specific training programs available are not designed for those starting out. As an alternative, vendor-neutral programs often offer the best choice and most complete curriculum. The question is, do programs offered by organizations other than vendors fulfill all of the needs of those wishing to be certified?

Choice of Paths

There are two main paths available for those choosing a certification: vendor-neutral and vendor-specific. Vendor-neutral certification refers to the programs provided by a company or organization not directly related to the product or technology involved. Breaking it down further, vendor-independent certifications are provided by non-profit organizations such as CompTIA or commercial organizations such as Brainbench. Vendor-specific certification refers to the programs provided directly by the software or hardware vendor. Easy examples of vendor-specific certifications are the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) or the Cisco Certified Network Administrator (CCNA).

Vendor-independent certification is certainly not a new concept. The certification industry effectively started with vendor-independent certification. Way back when, computer societies and technical bodies offered certification for members in specific disciplines and technical areas. Nowadays, there is a wide range of vendor-independent certifications available, covering areas as diverse as technical auditing and document imaging.

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