This is a rehash of advice I regularly give undergraduate students at UTS when they ask me what certification they should get.

I recently received responses for an RFQ for a review of our AWS & Azure governance & architecture. Some vendors had heaps of certs for one cloud, but none for the other. Only one had people that were well rounded with both certs and experience in both. Which makes picking the vendor really easy.

It is often very easy to find an expert for a single niche (in any context). These experts are referred to as T shaped, because they are shallow across most things and deep on one. A good consultant should usually try and be π shaped. (mmm, pie). They are shallow across but deep on two areas rather than one, usually slightly deeper on one of them though.

An excellent consultant (or engineer) is more like a m shape… on a treadmill. New columns come in as they become relevant, and vanish when they aren’t. Some stay around for ever.

When you’re starting your career a cert is a good way of establishing your credentials. When you are a few years in it becomes a good way of signalling a new column in your skill set. In 2004 I was only certified in Sun Solaris, in 2009 I held several EMC certifications across one technology and by 2012 I had several more EMC certs in adjacent technologies. Then in 2014 I got the Puppet Certification and 2016 the AWS certifications. I very rarely get asked about EMC anymore and that’s OK. Then I got an MBA and now my Puppet and AWS certs are less relevant, though not gone yet.