Speaking from my own experience, I'd say that most of Comptia's exams are a joke.
I sat for the Network+, which I completed within 12 minutes and passed with an outstanding mark. The certificate they give you is printed on a normal A4 sheet, Landscape layout. For the price you pay in this exam, I would have expected much more.
The A+ is easy and contains too much jargon. The only reason I did it, along with the Network + was because they count towards the MCSA . The A+ consists of two exams, one covering hardware, while the other covers operating systems.
Moving towards more serious certifications, Novells CNA was quite good. I've completed 3 CNA's, that is for version 3.12, 4 and 5 of the NetWare operating system and I can say that they were worth it. Even though they are very specific and not "general certifications" , at the time I did them, they proved to be very helpful because I was dealing with Novell servers.
Microsoft's MCP is a good introduction to the Windows 2000 operating system. Since most Windows operating systems are similar, I didn't see any reason to consider the XP version.
Took me a total of 2 months to complete the certification with an average of 2-3 hours per day studying time.
Dlink's certification (DCE) was not bad. I found it easy as it required the candidate to sit through seminars which had written exams at the end. A total of 3 exams if I remember correctly, but its not available everywhere, which is a problem. At the time I did it, I was living in Sydney-Australia.
The Linux -LCP certification was also average. Nothing too difficult, but with enough information to help you understand what Linux is all about and what you can do with it. For someone with 1+ years of experience, its a breeze.
Lastly, the CCNA... this is perhaps the only certification I've done that helped me learn so much about networking. It was also the reason I started Firewall.cx!
The CCNA at the time, was much easier, with 75 multiple choice questions and 90 minutes. Since then, its become a lot harder, with lab simulations and more tricky questions. When I first did the exam, back in 2000, it took me a total of 6 months studying, with an average of 4 hours per day. In order to prepare for it this time, I only needed 1 week of intense revisions and lab simulations in order to conquer it.
Cisco has clearly made the exams much harder in order to avoid the certification from becoming like most others, easy to get and without much pain. They have certainly done a good job.
My next certification, after I complete the MCSA is Cisco's CCDA, which dosen't seem very hard since most of the topics it covers are part of the CCNA curriculum.
You're right about the money. They are expensive - as is any amount of education.
And it is no guarantee. Just another indication of what your knowledge (not necessarily your experiance). But you have to have something to show how capable you are. And sometimes the fact that you took the time (and money) to finish these, shows a little about your character and sometimes that can be the piece of information that gets you the nod over the next guy.
Re: Certification - How hard is it
15 years 1 month ago #918