IT Security Certifications: Path to payday, or just a farce?

Network World claims that security certifications are worth their cost while other certificates aren't holding their value so well.

I'm going to use Network World against themselves. You see, they also put Security Specialist/Ethical Hacker at the top of the list of the 10 best IT jobs right now.

By all metrics, IT Security careers are on the rise. Qualified pros are in demand and the pay is up. Since the majority of people who have these certificates are working in an "on the up-swing" industry, that alone could explain the reason that people who hold these certs are getting raises when non-security certs don't seem to be paying off.

Note: I don't have any certificates nor degrees, and I've had several great interviews and a few job offers already in under a month of job hunting. Some of these even listed degrees or certificates in the "Required" or "Strongly desired" category of the job postings, but it didn't keep me from getting in front of a hiring manager. It's worth mentioning that WHO you know -- your network -- is often just as important if not more so than what you know or what pieces of paper you hold.

I might take an employer up on their offer to train me and pay for certification, but I haven't seen much solid proof that you need the certificates if you have the experience, the passion, and the references to back up your skills.

What's your take? Good for getting to the top of the applicant pile from HR? Good for landing you that dream job? Good for getting a raise once you're already in the industry? Or is it just a piece of paper?

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