As an IT professional, I always have to stay up to date with the latest and greatest in technology. Sometimes my head can spin several times when I find out that Microsoft or VMware is about to go live with a new version of their product. This comes with the territory of being in the IT field.
Part of staying up to date with today's technology is by obtain new experience in it. But experience is an intangible concept for certain people and it is hard to prove from the get go. As a result, certifications were made to legitimize a person's knowledge about a technology. But I have found that even after a person obtains a certification, they can still be a little green on how to implement it in the real world. One person I spoke to about this called the concept a "paper cert", which means that even though a person has a certification because he or she just passed a test, they don't know about how to implement a technology in the real world.
In my opinion, the marketplace has shown that technology moves too fast for IT professionals to always stay on top with their certifications and experience wins out in the end because it is more agile. Currently, I work in a position where I am the backup engineer, NOC engineer, Exchange admin, Windows admin, and the VMware admin. In truth, I only hold certifications in the last 2, but they are not up to date with the latest technologies from Microsoft and VMware. I am not saying that I am opposed to obtaining certifications, because I do see a lot of validity in obtaining them especially when going on interviews. I am just seeing that in the marketplace, IT professionals are more agile with keeping up with technology by obtaining experience rather than getting certified to stay on top of it.
I read an article about this concept on CIO's website which always sparks up the debate of Certifications vs. Real World Experience...