What Does Certified Mean?
Certification provides independent verification of a certain level of expertise in a particular area. Basically, it means you have completed the steps required to receive a particular designation. But this basic definition comes with a weakness--in some cases, individuals can become "certified" simply by paying a particular membership fee or by attending the required seminar. Such certifications are meaningless and a waste of time and money.
Certifications that mean something are about achieving designations that demonstrate to your employer and/or clients that you are, indeed, an expert in a particular area or areas, and that a reputable, recognizable organization is willing to attest to that.
Such certifications typically arise from a scenario like this: a computer--related organization, vendor, or
consortium identifies a particular function that requires specific skills, knowledge, and expertise--for example, intranet security. They detail just what those skills are and which knowledge is critical. This information makes up the common body of knowledge (CBOK) related to the specialty. The sponsoring organization also identifies a series of steps that will enable you to obtain the targeted level, and they implement methods of assessing your progress. Certification is conferred when you prove that you have obtained the specified abilities and knowledge.
With many certifications, you will also be granted a privileged relationship with the program's sponsor. The relationship can include priority technical support, early product updates, access to special forums, or other perks that will enable you to perform at a higher level.