Why LabVIEW certification matters (to me)

Posted on Sunday 17 December 2006

The value of obtaining LabVIEW Certification is a topic of heated debate within the LabVIEW community. Some people seem very offended by the thought that they should take a test to prove that they can write good LabVIEW code. Certainly, there are people for whom certification matters and others for whom it does not matter. Ultimately, it’s their own personal decision. But, certification does matter to me, and I’m happy to explain why.

First, I’d like to state a few things that will (hopefully) help me avoid backlash from readers who don’t share my opinions:

  • I agree that passing an exam does not prove that you can write good code.
  • I agree that failing an exam does not prove that you write bad code.
  • This is not a paid advertisement for NI’s certification program. I am simply sharing my perspective about something that I feel is of value to me.

And now on to my point:

I believe (very strongly) that the experience of studying for and taking the LabVIEW certification exams (and ultimately passing those exams) is a crucial step in a larger process of professional growth as a LabVIEW developer. And, incorporating certification into the hiring and professional growth processes of an organization that uses (and values) LabVIEW can greatly benefit that organization.

Kung FuSome might argue that the certification exam writers value programming techniques that are different from their own. And, many times, this is the case. But, I would argue that it is very important to learn the techniques that the certification exam writers feel are important. Just as the black-belt in martial arts needs to know how defend herself against a variety of attack styles, the LabVIEW expert must master a variety of programming styles and techniques. For example, when called upon to debug an application that you didn’t write, you had better be able to quickly figure out how the software works. In order do this, you need to be able to think like the person who wrote the code. You need to understand how this person’s state machine works (should you be so lucky that it uses a state machine), whether it is based on enums or strings, queues or arrays, or whether it uses one loop or two — you’re fighting in someone else’s dojo, now.

At JKI (where I work), we are very passionate about LabVIEW… no, wait… we are extremely passionate about LabVIEW. We’re the type of people who stay up late at night (because we’re having fun) creating reusable LabVIEW VIs and developer tools, posting tips and bug reports on LAVA, or working on some challenging LabVIEW problems. We are constantly focused on trying to become better at LabVIEW and more efficient in our development. And, we feel that LabVIEW certification is an important part of our continuous improvement process. In fact, every single one of our engineers holds a LabVIEW certification. A majority have achieved the Certified LabVIEW Architect (CLA) level and the rest have achieved the Certified LabVIEW Developer (CLD) level. Our engineers take the exams for a variety of reasons, but one of the main reasons is not to find out what they know, but rather, to find out what they don’t know. The certification exams are an important milestone on the journey to becoming a LabVIEW expert. As someone responsible for hiring and facilitating the professional growth of expert LabVIEW developers, I love to see LabVIEW certification on a resume. It shows that an individual has the drive and capacity to pass the exam, and that they see the value in obtaining certification.


On a side note, the other day I got an email from NI reminding me that it is time to renew my certification by re-taking the CLA exam. I’m looking forward to this experience and sharpening my LabVIEW skills. Also, I’ve been wanting to create some training documents on recursion techniques in LabVIEW (one of the Tasks and Objectives of the CLA exam) and re-taking the exam will give me a great excuse. Now that I think about it, a discussion of recursion would make for a good article, here at Thinking in G ;-)

Are you on the journey to becoming a LabVIEW expert? Consider a career at JKI. We’re always looking for great people.

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