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January 30, 2007

Certified Confusing

I had always reflexively linked the word "certified" with "mad" before I started writing about corporate training. The phenomenon of internal certification is confusing enough that the word "mad" still sometimes comes to mind when I hear about it. Can anything your company needs done, like speed typing or proficient coffee making, be certified?  I understand the concept of external certifications that are industry-wide, but on an internal basis, certification often seems silly.

In your company, how does certification work? It probably varies greatly company to company. One company is serious enough about it to organize official internal certification boards to, first, come up with the skills worthy of getting a certificate for being good at, and, second, to set up the standards for the certification, and the required testing. It's gotten so popular, I bet some of you have a few funny, now-defunct certifications to share that were tried out, and found to be too bound in insignificant minutia to warrant continuing. Is that so?

I'm not a fan of internal certification because it seems meaningless. With internal standards and approval, what's to keep your company from boasting to customers and investors that all your employees are certified in everything from beekeeping to air conditioner installation? 

The trend of heaping this internal honor on an ever increasing number of employees also smacks of feel-good nonsense. Since any course of study is never complete--even after completing a course, or series of courses--certification, unless updated yearly, is troublesome. It suggests finality like a Driver's License you only have to get your photo taken, and an eye test every five years, to renew.

So, my second question: If you're certifying, what do your certified employees need to do to renew the certification? Knowledge is fluid, so how many months or years will it take before each certification certificate tacked to the cubical wall is obsolete? 

I'd like to be certified in something myself. My Driver's License hasn't worked out that well, to tell you the truth. But, in addition to reporting and writing, I'm not bad at surfing the Web. What about Certified E-Surfer Extraordinaire (bonus points for added wasted time)?


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Geetha Krishnan

May be if I have enough internal certifications in my company, can I claim that we have certified certifiers?

margery weinstein

I don't see why not--It seems like anything goes when it comes to the great quest to certify.

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