I'm sure you can search the fora here to see what my opinion is of certification and its value in any job market, irregardless of the financial situation. To sum up, though - I think it helps as a discriminator (it gets you some extra attention) but isn't going to make you stand out over candidates with more experience than yourself. Insofar as how it helps when financial situations turn south, I think it's definitely a help, though how much of a help it is can be rather subjective.
Theodore Jonathan Casser
SCJP/SCSNI/SCBCD/SCWCD/SCDJWS/SCMAD/SCEA/MCTS/MCPD... and so many more letters than you can shake a stick at!
I have been in IT for about 18 years. I also agree it is rather subjective, because different managers place different values of a certificate.
The most useful is an actual university diploma followed by a diploma by someplace like ITT or HEALD.
I have had only one job where my company was not interested in me improving my skills. The most important aspect of having a historical trail of certificates demonstrates that you are interested in improving your skills and also a track on where you wish to take your career.
Now the question of certificates during hard economic times. The more pieces of independent 3rd party verified knowledge (certificates/diplomas) you have, the better off you will be.
Certificates are most valued by consulting companies. The use your certificates as a selling point of your skills to their customers.
Certificates are handy, but what is more important is to market yourself as a well rounded candidate through an impressive resume. Highlight your achievements in a results driven manner. Employers are keener on the impact you had in your past jobs. If you were an employer, would you hire someone purely on the basis of certification alone?
[ September 30, 2008: Message edited by: arulk pillai ] [ September 30, 2008: Message edited by: arulk pillai ]