After I got through with this whole process, I read with interest Don Tennant's article (Certifiably Concerned) in Computerworld about how certified professionals get smaller pay increases than their un-certified counterparts. Don says:
So if you perceive even a subtle cultural shift away from certification in your organization, do something about it. In the process, you'll be keeping the bar up high where it belongs.
I thought to myself for a second "Am I part of the problem?". I looked at the study, but was left with more questions than answers. For example, What was the pay differential between certified and non-certified employees? Does becoming certified in technology XYZ bring an immediate pay raise?
The big question is does certification deliver any real value to the business? I think it does, but probably not for the same reasons as Don Tennant thinks. When a person starts the certification process she proves to me that she has drive and wants to learn more. A DBA shows me they want to understand what's going on instead of just reacting to the situation. I know it's just a couple of tests, but when a person dedicates themself to a goal and achieves it, I know I want them to work for me.
On the other hand, I don't need certification to show me that either. I love it when a DBA questions how things are setup and can argue why things should be different. The guy that stays all night through 8 recoveries even though he has only been there 3 weeks is someone you want to hang on to.
Apparently, Don got lambasted for his comments. I disagree that you need a "consistent, quantifiable means of documenting the skills assets of your IT organization. Otherwise, expanding and improving that institutional skill set will be an adhoc activity, and efforts to optimize the quality and productivity of your workforce will suffer". I know the quality of my workforce by two easily measured metrics; how many mistakes they make and how many service interruptions my systems have had. I know the productivity of my workforce by how long it takes them to perform a given task the first time. If it's a repetitive task, we automate it.
Certification has it's place, but experience and drive trump certification every time.