James wants to get an A+ certification, but he's wondering if it's worth getting. Leo says that the main thing a certification shows an employer is that he set out to do something and proved that he completed it. That's really the main benefit and if he is looking for work in the IT field, it's not bad to have, especially if he's trying to get his first job. It's really only a test that he'll study for and take. It doesn't necessarily mean he is skilled or competent. A passion for the subject and a willingness to learn is of more benefit than just studying to pass a test.
Manny's son wants to get into IT, but he's wondering how he could get a job. Leo says that certifications are the diplomas of the IT world. Microsoft and Cisco has CERT programs. He should look at the certs he wants to get and then sign up to get that training. There's even a hacker cert for those who want to work in IT security. Leo suggests ITPro.TV for getting the right training to qualify to test for the certs. Once he gets that first job, then it depends on how good he is at it for getting that second job.
Joe is looking to get a Computer Science degree. Leo says that most of those in Silicon Valley don't have a college degree. It's not really what they judge people on there. It's about what they know and what their skill set is. 56% of programmers in San Francisco have dropped out of school. But the benefit of a certification is that if he has no experience, he at least can point to the cert.
At his job, Justin has gotten into IT work and now he wants to get some formal education. Leo says that since Justin has worked in it for the last 5 years, he's got to be pretty accomplished. But he doesn't have a certification. Leo says that certs are for guys just starting out, not for experienced people. Leo says if he really wants his certifications, he should check out IT Pro.TV, which has an online monthly video subscription that will take him through everything he needs to know. Justin could go to a local Junior College as well.
Leo says that Certifications through Microsoft are the short hand way to get credibility on his resume about networking. Large companies tend to look for the CERTS. They're the equivalent of a degree. The problem is that they're expensive to study for. Cheaper than college, though. Here's an article on the Ten Best Certifications for IT in 2012 by Tech Republic.