Product manager addressing team in stand up

If you’re debating whether to spend the time and resources necessary to earn certifications, here’s a bit of data that might sway your thinking: some 80 percent of HR professionals at medium and large organizations said they relied on certifications during the hiring process.

That data comes from CompTIA’s new Workforce and Learning Trends 2023 report, which breaks down current hiring trends for technology professionals. The reasons for HR professionals’ reliance on certifications seems pretty straightforward: many don’t have the grasp of technical skills necessary to thoroughly evaluate candidates, so they need a third-party source to certify skills.

Even for HR professionals with a good technical background, certifications can assure them the candidate’s skills are truly up-to-date and aligned with an organization’s needs. “Certifications can provide more specific and concrete insights into an employee’s capabilities than a degree can, especially one that was earned years ago or in another field of study,” the report stated.

But there is a downside, the report continued: “Despite their value, certifications are also causing confusion, especially given their recent proliferation. The IT industry in particular has been inundated with badges, designations, and other forms of credentialing that can make it very difficult to determine their significance. Smaller organizations often do not have an expert on their team who can validate the worthiness of a particular recognition.”

At larger organizations, candidates for tech jobs are often subjected to a few rounds of technical interviews designed to evaluate skills. These interviews can easily supplement certifications (or show a candidate has the technical chops despite a lack of certs). But it’s not just about technical skills or how many certifications a tech pro has racked up over the years; there’s also the question of whether a candidate is a good cultural fit with the rest of the team.

For those dedicated to the path of certifications, keep in mind that you’ll need to carve out significant time and resources in order to obtain them. On top of that, some advanced certifications require years of experience. If you’re unsure about whether you can spare the cost, try asking your current employer if they’ll subsidize your education; with more organizations willing to pay for employees’ training, chances are good they’ll say yes.