Certifications – An Outward Expression of an Inward Reality

G-Wiz #48

Some people (like Guru) baulk at certifications. They act as if they are meaningless wall decorations, or a ploy to get a promotion. The fact is certifications are a great way to quickly demonstrate skills that cannot be readily seen.

National Instruments (NI) offers a suite of certifications that allow a developer to establish credentials. There are 3 levels of LabVIEW certification (Certified LabVIEW Associate Developer “CLAD”, Certified LabVIEW Developer “CLD”, and Certified LabVIEW Architect “CLA”). In addition, there is a LabVIEW Certified Embedded Developer “CLED”, 2 levels of TestStand certification (Certified TestStand Developer “CTD” and Certified TestStand Architect “CTA”), and a Certified Windows/CVI Developer “CCVID”. Each of these certifications requires the applicant to pass a test to demonstrate their mastery of the subject. Some certifications are multiple choice tests, but several of them are 4-hour programming exams that require the applicant to develop functionality in a real-world scenario to demonstrate proficiency with the tools. But more importantly, before the test, NI provides courses and subject matter that make up the scope for the test. Just like an Algebra teacher teaches a syllabus of material that will be on the final, NI makes it clear what a skilled developer should have mastered.

At DSA, we have always stressed the importance of certifications, not as a badge of superiority, but instead a demonstration of agreed upon skills. For example, we typically hire engineers with some LabVIEW experience. The first thing we do is make sure the new employee, some with years of real world experience, takes LabVIEW Core 1 & 2. We have found that even proven successful programmers may have gaps in their knowledge, and we want to provide the best skilled developers for our customers. If you ask anyone who has taken a LabVIEW course in preparation for certification if they have learned something to make them a better coder, without a doubt their answer would be yes. Like many of the science disciplines we work in, we need to stand on the work done before us to reach new heights. Certifications prove that we have a grasp on the known and are prepared for the unknown.

To pass the certifications you need to know the lingo of the tool, you need to know the right way to architect an application, and you need proficiency with the tool. In all my years working with developers who are taking these certification exams, the capable programmers pass, while most failures stem from a lack of exposure to the topics and experience with real-world systems.

We take a driving test to get our license, you get a diploma when you graduate college, and I assume you want your doctor to have proper credentials. Why shouldn’t you prove your NI skills the same way?

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