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AMSLLC

Freelancing and getting the NI certification

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There's an old Greek saying that my dad always said to me. "Once you get on the dance floor, you gotta dance"

Go for it Michael! :D

...I was hoping to get a few more of the truly freelance styled alliance members posting here. Perhaps they have, not sure, but the ones I know from work over years are now no longer seen on alliance webpage resource.

So the freelance alliance members that you used to hang out with aren't certified? I dunno, but I saw the requirement for certification a good step, otherwise anyone could just buy an alliance membership - personally I don't think that's right. I'm sure that NI didn't just go down the track they did to get more $ from their alliance members - I'm sure they understood that they'd loose some of their members, but they obviously thought that the risk was worth it to have control over the sort of people they allign with.

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Go for it Michael! :D

So the freelance alliance members that you used to hang out with aren't certified? I dunno, but I saw the requirement for certification a good step, otherwise anyone could just buy an alliance membership - personally I don't think that's right. I'm sure that NI didn't just go down the track they did to get more $ from their alliance members - I'm sure they understood that they'd loose some of their members, but they obviously thought that the risk was worth it to have control over the sort of people they allign with.

You are still alluding to the same positive side that I am actually agreeing with you on. No, NI, being envious of MS for making "certified" people and making half the alliance members misfits seems unwise to me. I have seen other NI mistakes over years, I was a huge beta tester of TesStand and I advised tons of changes many that made it in. As to making misfits of alliance members because that is not the angle some wanted to pursue (certification) (not the learning or "good" you bring up) I don't see it. I have worked with certified alliance members too, some with good technique, some I simply would advise avoiding. I see it as a negative by NI overall, and really a MS envy type of play some manager probably got a bonus for.

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I see it as a negative by NI overall, and really a MS envy type of play some manager probably got a bonus for.

Is there a Microsoft-based interpretation of Godwin's Law? :)

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Is there a Microsoft-based interpretation of Godwin's Law? :)

This would only be possible by first comparing Microsoft to Nazis, which means that you would have to invoke Godwin's Law on yourself, which means that you automatically lose the argument. It makes for quite a paradox. I suggest that we simply offer to buy AMSLLC a beer and debate the issue at NI Week ...mmmm.... beer. :beer:

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This would only be possible by first comparing Microsoft to Nazis, which means that you would have to invoke Godwin's Law on yourself, which means that you automatically lose the argument. It makes for quite a paradox. I suggest that we simply offer to buy AMSLLC a beer and debate the issue at NI Week ...mmmm.... beer. :beer:

Well I'll take the beer, but intellectual pride some like to feel motivates, nah not my bag. I'll take being married to life and wife, not LabView.

In all serious, thanks for many good thoughts by many here and the link earlier as mentioned.

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Well I'll take the beer...

I would have stopped there :D

I'm more than happy to bring up my 250th post by offering you a beer at NI-Week 2006 - add your name to the steadily growing list of people for me to shout...

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Hi AMMSLLC:

Well before this thread implodes, I would like to put in my two cents worth.

A bit busy now, so I'll be briefer that I might otherwise be on the subject (sighs of relief all over the internet. :P )

I've been using LabView since version 2.something-- back in the Mac-only days. First as an employee in the test department of a wind turbine manufacturer and for the past 10 years I've been a freelance consultant. I don't work exclusively in LabView, but it does end up coming in handy for as a tool for much of the work I do.

I did go for the CLD status when it first became available-- for much the same reason you are considering it, and recently I took the exam to renew my status. (Umm-- :blink: yeah that's a little annoying-- you'd think that one shouldn't have to renew the CLD more often than one renews one's driver's license-- but that's another topic.)

So with that background a couple of points to make:

Despite my years of experience, I thought that I would have a tough time challenging the CLD exam without taking any advanced courses, so I sprang the $$$, not just for the exam, but also for some of the more advanced courses.

While I was sitting in the advanced course learning about how to use OPC servers, I was thinking to myself, "Boy, this a neat feature-- but for someone else-- I'm never going to use it. But since its one of the possible things on the exam, I might as well pay enough attention to get any questions that might come up on the exam right."

My very next gig-- at a time when I was far less busy than I like to be-- was a client who wanted a simple LV program to plot some data from a PLC which was publishing the data to -- you geussed it-- an OPC server. "Sure, I've done that before." Got the gig.

I've also found practical uses for several other features that-- to be honest-- I learned soley for the purpose of passing the CLD exam. So my first point is this: The big cost in my mind-- even with 15 years LV experience-- was not the time and money to take the exam, but the time and money to prepare for the exam--- and I think that cost and effort has paid off well in other ways unrelated to the exam.

Second point, as to the value of CLD itself as a marketing tool for consultants? Valuable- but perhaps not the most valuable thing to do unless you are strictly selling yourself as a programmer. It has brought me several little gigs, word of mouth through my local NI reps, who prorbably wouldn't have felt comfortable recommending me without the CLD. But truth is, at the rates I charge, most of my work doesn't come to me simply as a LabView programmer, but from folks who I've been working with for decades, and who know what I can do in my other areas of specialty. For these folks, LabView is a tool to help me work in those areas, not an end unto itself-- and they really could care less if I'm CLD or whatever. I think it is definitely worthwhile for young folks entering into the profession who need a little extra to go with their other training and get themselves in the door. Even as an old-timer, it helps to open some doors. But if you are enough of an old-timer to have learned LV from Gary's first book, spending the time and effort to network with existing clients should be the first line of attack for marketing yourself.

Just my personal ramble on the topic. Might close by quoting my father "You can't argue with City Hall." NI is the City Hall of the LV world-- If that's your line of work, might as well go for the certification-- unless you are so busy with existing clients that doing so takes time away from billable hours... :thumbup:

Best Regards, Louis

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Although I understand what you are saying, I was hoping to get a few more of the truly freelance styled alliance members posting here. Perhaps they have, not sure, but the ones I know from work over years are now no longer seen on alliance webpage resource. I think NI took a wrong step here despite what you are saying. Stepping on feet of ones allies is probably not all that wise, even though it looks good on paper. There probably is a way to say that in Greek but well, I don't know Greek...
Hey, I hear you. I've worked with many Alliance member companies as an employee. I've also left and started my own company in the past and eventually qualified to join the Alliance program. I've played by the rules all along the way. In my mind, either you decide to be serious about your business and put in %100 by taking advantage of every opportunity, or you don't. You can run a succesfull business without being in the Alliance program and without getting certified. I don't doubt that. It depends really on yourself and where you want to take your business. If you can get enough clients to sustain your lifestyle (be with kids, less stress, etc.) without certification or the Alliance membership then what are you worried about? Have fun. However, from pure business strategy and growth, it really does not make sense to ignore this avenue. Think of it this way, if you go for a job interview, you want to make sure your credentials are as top-notch as possible, right? So why wouldn't you do the same for your business?

As a side note, in the past, we wanted to be a CISCO certifed in order to sell and support their products... wow, what a huge undertaking. There are a multitude of courses and tests to take and the cost is pretty steep. So, in comparison, NI's route is pretty cheap and you don't really have to take the courses. If you've been developing since 91 then you should have no problems.

There are many reasons why NI switched-on the requirement for certification for Alliance members. One of them is validation that the Alliance member has the capabilities to support a customer. NI always has a handfull of members in any given geographic region that it can call upon to assist a customer. With certification, it levels the playing field so NI can focus on picking the Alliance member with the proper domain expertise without worrying about their LabVIEW skills. I know it's not a perfect blanket but it's a hell of a start. In order to pass the practical, you need to know state machines extreamly well. isn't that what we've been preaching on LAVA? You also have to solve a pretty involved and realistic problem in under 3hours. I found it challenging myself and I'm glad I went through it. I learned a lot about what I don't know and where my weaknesses are so I can improve. I now eat up recursive algorothms for breakfast... :P

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Well, well, well. We've hit on a topic here that is at the foremost of my thoughts lately. And of course, it all happens while I'm on travel and away from LAVA. :headbang:

I recently left an Alliance company to start freelancing. I've been doing LabVIEW for around 7 years now, and at my previous company LabVIEW development was my primary job, although I never got any certifications (took one TestStand course and enjoyed it very much). I'm considering it now, but I'm daunted by what the certs will do in the short term to (as someone else put it) my bottom line.

It doesn't particularly matter to me whether NI says I should or not. It's a matter of what the certifications bring me in terms of my personal and professional goals. So far, I have not had any experiences where I missed a bid or anything by not being certified.

Most of what I have to say has already been touched on by others, so I'll just make some comments

Bottom line, certification is an absolute must for anyone serious about calling himself a LabVIEW expert -- if only to understand the process and expose him to a variety of concepts. Certainly, I gained a lot by obtaining my certification (I am a CLA, and have previously held my instructor certification) -- I learned about areas of LabVIEW that I was weak in, and I subsequently strengthened those areas.

I strongly agree with this. The fact is that LabVIEW is getting really large and really versatile. I tell people that there are probably 1000 ways to do everything in LabVIEW, but that most of them are wrong. "Wrong" is subjective a lot of the time, but you all know what I mean. All of us homegrown LabVIEW jockeys have our own ways of doing things, and those evolve and grow as time goes by. (I, for instance, had a brief and torrid love affair with Global Variables about 6 years ago. It didn't end well.) :throwpc:

A lot of what we come up with is "pretty good." It gets the job done, it's probably fairly reusable (because Engineers Are Lazy), and it might even be efficient or elegant. But there are people better than us at these things. Some of their techniques are what NI teaches in the Cert courses. Why wouldn't it be a good idea to go to the mountaintop for advice? What's the possible drawback? I don't really see one, from a technical standpoint.

Another component it work very closely with experienced and learned LabVIEW developers/architects - when I was in business for myself as a sole trader, I missed out on a whole lot of intellectual stimulation and learning - there just wasn't anyone else to push me to think outside the box. If you are working on your own, not doing any formal learning and/or not looking for certification amongst your peers, then you might not be pushing yourself enough - there's so much out there to learn, and if you rely solely on what you know yourself and don't try to expand then I can't see how you'd truly grow as a LabVIEW aficionado - you're just treading water...

This is a great point, too. Part of my problem at my last job was that, as the only LabVIEW developer, a lot of my methods seemed OK. I guess they got the projects out the door, and I guess we made money. But I wasn't involved in the LabVIEW community, and I didn't reap the benefits of knowing where I stood relative to my real peers (the LabVIEW World, not the other engineers at the company).

I think Certification is a great way to maintain a check on oneself to ensure you're not getting tunnel vision (ha! A structure joke! :thumbup: ) about software engineering, LabVIEW, or your own abilities. It forces you to interact, and the best stuff happens when you collaborate.

You are still alluding to the same positive side that I am actually agreeing with you on. No, NI, being envious of MS for making "certified" people and making half the alliance members misfits seems unwise to me. I have seen other NI mistakes over years, I was a huge beta tester of TesStand and I advised tons of changes many that made it in. As to making misfits of alliance members because that is not the angle some wanted to pursue (certification) (not the learning or "good" you bring up) I don't see it. I have worked with certified alliance members too, some with good technique, some I simply would advise avoiding. I see it as a negative by NI overall, and really a MS envy type of play some manager probably got a bonus for.

I disagree with that. I think it's a bit cynical, although I'll also register my vote for (what I've been told is) the ridiculousness of the MS certifications.

I see it a different way. I think that we should be celebrating the fact that LabVIEW has finally reached a point where it's useful to have certifications. There are lots and lots of people using LabVIEW now, and the crowd continues to grow. That's terrific, but the problem (to hijack Jim's metaphor) is that as more people start to use LabVIEW, more people start to do it BADLY. Certification is a way of (A) standardizing practices that are known to be "good," and (B) differentiating the professionals from the rabble.

If there is a problem with NI's cost structure, that's a different topic. But charging too much or requiring frequent renewals (which I'd be glad to discuss) doesn't undermine the value of the certifications themselves.

My very next gig-- at a time when I was far less busy than I like to be-- was a client who wanted a simple LV program to plot some data from a PLC which was publishing the data to -- you geussed it-- an OPC server. "Sure, I've done that before." Got the gig.

This is an excellent point, and is a big part of the reason I'm leaning toward certification. I'm smart enough to know that there are still whole subpalettes hanging around that I've basically never used. Surely they're good for something....

Think of it this way, if you go for a job interview, you want to make sure your credentials are as top-notch as possible, right? So why wouldn't you do the same for your business?

Michael touches on an important point here. What counts is the credibility of the certs. For some companies, the certs are a joke either in terms of cost or difficulty. But in my experience, the CLAs I've met are without exception very, very good LabVIEW developers (that sounds way more obsequious than it's intended). That gives the certificaiton credibility, and if I see a CLA in someone's credentials I can be confident they know what they're doing.

Give it 10 years or so, when there's 100k CLAs in the world, and colleges offer CLA certification to all seniors majoring in LabVIEW. Then we can all complain about the good ol' days.

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BTW, when I went to Developer's Day recently. The NI training people (who were working very hard to sell me on training / certification) stated there were about 40 CLA's in the world. I think its great that we have several (3-4 at my last count) who have contributed to this topic and are active members in this board.

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I think its great that we have several (3-4 at my last count) who have contributed to this topic and are active members in this board.

The NI CLA Listing shows 70 (although in my experience, these pages tend to be updated less that regularily).

Hey - here's an added bonus to being a CLA: no resit required! (for the moment anyway :) ) My CLA expired this month, and I just got a new certificate in the mail - the accompanying letter said that nothing significant had changed since I took the exam, so voila! New certificate that expires in another 2 years! :thumbup:

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Well, what's so big deal getting certification? Anyone (even high school graduates) can get it in a couple of months. Just because you think you are "good" at LabVIEW does not turn you into a microwave expert, fiber optics expert, rocket scientist... Don't make it sounds so big as if only the people who owns the certification has EXPERIENCES? Would be top programmer? You just make LabVIEW sounds so SHALLOW. Getting certification is fine, but you don't necessary have the right to judge other people's work.

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Well, what's so big deal getting certification? Anyone... can get it in a couple of months.

Really?!? Even with no LabVIEW experience, anyone can get their CLA in a couple of months?!? I don't think so, and unless you've sat the CLA than I don't think you know either.

:!: Disclaimer: I mean no malice in my comments below - please take them at purley face value.

I re-iterate my previous comment: unless you've been through the certification process (and what you need to learn to do it) then you have no basis to comment on its' true educational worth. All you're doing is trashing it based on what you think it's like - if you want to talk about the impact of having certification might have on whether you'll win a job or not, that's fine, but trashing the content of the certification exams without even knowing what's in them is purely ignorant speculation. :2cents:

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:!: Disclaimer: I mean no malice in my comments below - please take them at purley face value.

Don't worry, I understand it's only discussion about the subject. And when I mean "you" in my above post, I don't really mean you, just general "you".

Ok, I agree that if possible, go to attend some courses certainly is useful than not to, but not everybody thinks it's necessary for their current work. And if there are some books cover the similar topics as CLA instead of attending courses and getting certification, that may be useful for people who don't really care the title of CLA, but still want to learn. But that may not be good for NI...I don't know.

I hope this is my last post for this thread, too much time, don't want to be addictive :)

Out now!

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It's worth mentioning that I am contacted on a regular basis from people that found my info on the CLA listing on ni.com. That's pretty good marketing.

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I wanted to thank the many posters who have followed up continue on with thread. Thanks especially to crelf, Louis Manfredi, Michael (the "Greek") Aivaliotis, justin, Chris, Irene, and Jim (the "King") Kring.

I am much more positive about the whole matter but here is what it breaks down for me:

Positives :thumbup:

---------

1) Can learn a ton in process, just learn a whole, whole, lot

2) make new contacts all over place

3) pick up jobs by having cert and doing process as many have mentioned

Negatives :thumbdown:

----------

1) current structure of certification process is too large, complex, etc

2) I gave up guaranteed jobs in government and industry to be independant LabView'r because it made my family life a ton easier. My wife is a professional but we like our kids and some things go first in life. If I take all the extra time and effort to do all the certs, well, I am sort of going back to what I gave up in first place.

3) The process is kind of a snub on the older LabView community circa early 90's, guys like me who where around when nobody cared, and helped bring lots of people to LabView in first place, got our training the hard way without all these classes that are around, etc.

So for me, at the moment, it is grey but is essentially negated by my negative item #2. I actually have some time at the moment, but not sure I have that much time....

I suppose there are other issues about the whole process that have been brought out to be debated. I think it is good to debate it.

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I am much more positive about the whole matter but here is what it breaks down for me:

Well summarised!

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I now eat up recursive algorothms for breakfast... :P

I would like to further note that anything involving eating and recursion is just sick. :blink:

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I would like to further note that anything involving eating and recursion is just sick.

:D

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Hey - here's an added bonus to being a CLA: no resit required! (for the moment anyway :) ) My CLA expired this month, and I just got a new certificate in the mail - the accompanying letter said that nothing significant had changed since I took the exam, so voila! New certificate that expires in another 2 years! :thumbup:

Count your blessings!

They have just announced the new advanced course.

Hopefully the test will not be updated before it comes time for me to re-test.

Ben

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