Certification Spotlight: Pete Warchol

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Pete Warchol is currently employed by Randstad Technologies as a consultant. He is under contract to TD Bank as a Senior Technical Project Manager of IT infrastructure projects. Pete has a total of 100 professional certifications. 


Why did you first pursue a professional certification?
I first pursued getting certified in 1986, with Institute for Certification of Computer Professionals (ICCP) Associate Computer Professional, with COBOL (ACP). Since my undergraduate degree was in psychology, sociology and political science, I was interested in increasing my technical credibility.

Are you considering getting any additional credentials?
I have 100 professional certifications, and I’m always looking at new ones. I use the certification process as a way to measure my command of new material. Currently, I’m looking at the Microsoft Windows 2012 certifications and renewing my ISC2/CISSP certification, which I foolishly let expire.

What advice do you have for someone pursuing an IT certification?
Carefully consider your goals, then make good use of your time and money. You can use certifications to both reinforce your knowledge in your current role and to prepare for what you would like to do next. The road to a certificate can be time consuming and expensive, so careful planning is needed.

Here is how I usually break it down:

  • Determine what certification has value to you, your current employer or a future employer.
  • Determine what study materials are available, like books, CBT, hands-on classes; then which ones you can afford and that you are most comfortable with using.
  • Establish a plan, with time-related objectives. If you don’t, the time will pass, nothing will get done, and you won’t achieve your goals.

How has being a certification holder helped you make strides in your career?
In the past 20 years, they have consistently helped me get interviews. Employers like having independent verification of a prospective employee’s knowledge.

In my case, with so many certifications, many people are curious to meet me, even when I don’t perfectly match what they are currently seeking.

Can you describe a valuable professional experience that may not have been possible without certification?
There are three great jobs I’ve had that I never would have been considered for without my certifications, including my current one. My current client manager has many certifications and appreciates their value.

How has the field changed over the years?
As the saying goes, the more it changes, the more it stays the same. The current popular technologies are always changing, but old ones never completely disappear. There are always new and improved methodologies, but in the end it always comes down to the people implementing them in order to be successful. Information Technology is and always will be about input/process/output, just the mechanics change. Hard-working, flexible and well-trained people will always have opportunities for success.

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There’s something about the word “certified” when it precedes a professional title that conveys the consumers and employers a sense of trust, credibility, knowledge and an official “stamp” of approval. This is not a coincidence. IT certification has long been a proven means of differentiation and qualification among professionals in the industry. Employers often include certification as a prerequisite when seeking qualified candidates to fill positions; consumers often trust only those IT professionals who boast credentials proving they have attained a certain level of knowledge.