January 18, 2018

How important are programming certifications when hiring a developer?

Just like other areas of business, certifications can be a great way for developers to prove and showcase their skills to potential employers. Don’t automatically assume programming certifications equal a better developer though – you’ll need to understand what certification options there are for the frameworks and technologies you’re hiring for.


.NET/Microsoft Certifications

Microsoft is most likely the largest singular purveyor of programming certifications. Their .NET framework is extremely popular, and there is a plethora of different exams. Because of this, don’t hire someone just because they have a Microsoft certification. Find out which specific ones they’ve completed, so you can weigh if it’s relevant to your project. For .NET developers, most Microsoft certifications will still be a boon that can help you, and because it’s all part of the same framework, almost any development certification can be made useful, including Microsoft Dynamics, Azure, and C#.

The most basic .NET certification is the Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA). Having this alone won’t automatically be helpful though, because the difficulty level is aimed for entry-level software engineers. Keep an eye out instead for any candidates who are Microsoft Certified Solutions Experts (MCSE). This is the highest certification level for .NET developers, and has several tests in a variety of areas. If you’re working with Business Intelligence or Big Data for example, then check for an MCSE in Data Management Analytics. There are over 100 different tests for Microsoft, and developers who have passed them usually add the specific test and certificate ID numbers to their resumes. If you’re working with .NET, certifications can help you choose the best candidate.


PHP/Open Source Certifications

In comparison to .NET, the number of official PHP and open source certifications is drastically smaller. This is partially because open source technologies are supposed to be accessible, low-cost coding solutions for everyone. Additionally, open source frameworks are all fairly different, and it would be difficult to create an all-encompassing certification.

Some technologies do have their own special exams, such as MySQL, one of the largest open source database platforms. However, the vast majority of open source technologies don’t have a certification, so if you’re looking for a developer for PHP work, or other frameworks such as WordPress and CodeIgniter, then focus on their project experience as the best judge of their skill level.


e-Commerce Certifications

There is not a specific overarching e-Commerce certification, but some platforms do have their own specialized certifications such as Magento and Amazon Web Services (AWS). Unless you are hiring a developer that almost exclusively works in one platform though, don’t put too much stock in a certification for this field. Developers who have a wide range of e-Commerce skills may find it almost impossible to achieve a certification for every type of development they work in.


Network Administration Certifications

There are some Microsoft certifications that apply to network administration, but the most popular are from Cisco, one of the largest network companies. While these can be helpful if you specifically need someone who can work with Cisco, a certification in this area does not guarantee a wide range of knowledge as a Network Admin. Unless you plan to use this product or service, focus on the candidate’s resume and range of experience in various networking tasks.


Scrum/Agile Development

Occasionally developers earn certifications in Scrum or Agile development. These are styles of workflow and management, and are not specific technologies or frameworks in which developers code. This is definitely not a necessary skill, since developers often learn it from their project manager or the head of the development team, but it still proves a high level of expertise and a desire to go above and beyond in their professional life. Don’t exclude candidates because they don’t have the certification, but give a second look to anyone who took the extra time to pass.



After you’ve hired your team, don’t forget the benefits of certification for your current employees. As an employer, there are multiple ways that you can encourage your team to become certified in order to help long-term projects and their own career goals. Some companies choose to compensate developers for the cost of any certification that they pass. This means, that if the developer doesn’t take studying seriously, they don’t pass and the company isn’t out any money. On the other hand, if your developer excels and passes the exams, not only do they have an incentive to try harder, but you’ve also made an investment in keeping your team as qualified and up-to-date as possible. Another option is giving bonuses to developers who pass, rather than covering the entire cost of the test. Whatever the budget of your company, seriously consider putting aside money to help train your team. Not only will this help them technically, but it will increase employee engagement and satisfaction.

Whether you’re looking to hire a new employee, or bolster the skills of an existing one, check out the options for programming certifications; you may find it a useful tool to keep your team at the top of their game.


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