Certifications are great for things that have reasonably limited bounds. Networking certifications are limited to everything to know about networking. That’s a lot to know, but it is a reasonable limit. Same with Microsoft or project management certifications.

Certifications also help to prove to the holder that she is qualified to do that thing. She doesn’t need to doubt herself, she has a piece of paper to prove she knows what she needs to know. If I had a certification for my work, maybe I wouldn’t have had a dream a couple of nights ago about how I’m not qualified for anything.

But certifications have problems. They are about knowing and being tested on knowing. And knowing a fact doesn’t necessarily help you solve a problem. And their reasonably limited bounds ensure that solving the meaningful problems and life cannot be certified. Anything uncharted is almost by definition un-certifiable.

You’d have a hard time convincing me to hire someone with a certification. That certification tells me that that person may be a valuable piece of a larger puzzle, but we’re too small to need a puzzle piece. We’d need someone who can solve any problem that comes up and there’s no certification for that.