Does Certification Have Value in a Web 2.0 World?

I was just relearning how to work with Google AdWords and noticed that its tutorials include quiz questions. Why? Because you may want to test your knowledge along the way and eventually become a Google Advertising Professional.

To do so, you need to pass an exam, which allows you to use a “Qualified Google Advertising Professional Logo” — important, I suppose, if you’re in the search engine optimization or online marketing business. The Direct Marketing Association offers its own certification program covering comparable topics.

But what about the rest of us: Does certification still have merit?

If you’re a freelance technical consultant, it may help new customers feel comfortable knowing that you’ve gone through some form of training that confirms your knowledge of a new technology (at least as it existed at the time you took the test). Service sites such as OnForce confirm your certifications and make that part of your online listing.

If you’re working in the corporate world, certification can help your co-workers look at you in a new light, especially important if you’re trying to break out of the mold of your job title. When the manager comes looking for someone to tackle the new web 2.0 initiative, maybe she’ll give you a second look if you mention your new Microsoft Certified Technical Specialist credential in .NET framework 2.0 web applications or your new Project Management Institute Project Management Professional title.

Want to change careers? Try earning a certification in life coaching, security, even beer judging, then place the logo on your virtual business site and reap the rewards (or calories).

Do certifications still have value, or are they an idea whose time is over?