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Knowledge, Experience and Proficiency. What all does it mean? RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • Many of you have emailed me and asked exactly what the difference is between knowledge, experience, and proficiency. I thought I would take the time to answer in this forum for all to read. Here is the quick and dirty. Enjoy. 



    Knowledge and Certifications.
    (K ≠ C)

    It's not enough to know the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. Knowledge alone, no matter how much, isn't enough to consider certifications. I am knowledgeable in practical understanding of flight. However, this doesn't mean I can fly an airplane. The problem with knowledge is that normally it is taught or learned from a best practices standpoint. Meaning you learn how to do the right things, in the ideal environment, under ideal circumstances. In a perfect world, this would be enough. However, we know from experience and Murphy's Law that anything that can go wrong, will—AND at the worst possible moment.

    Experience and Certifications. (E ≠ C)

    Experience alone does not warrant the pursuit of certifications. Just because you have experience in driving a car does not mean you are qualified to drive a car. You need practical understanding (knowledge) of the rules of the road - along with city and state laws as well. Simply learning how to do something and doing it can lead to failure down the road. Did you learn the proper way of doing something? Did you learn why it's done that way? You can swing a golf club and hit the ball, but are you doing it correctly?

    Proficiency. ( K + E = P)

    Knowledge PLUS Experience EQUALS Proficiency. Proficiency is the combination of knowing the theoretical or practical understandings of a subject, while at the same time possessing the ability to know when to bend and manipulate those practices to work in an impractical environment. So what's all that mean? Know how to perform the task correctly, but know what it takes to get it done. Knowledge is knowing how to build a house. Experience tells us not to build it on sand. Being proficient means "knowing what you know" and trusting your abilities when knowledge and experience conflict. Certifications without proficiency in the tested objectives carry no value.


    Michael D. Alligood,
    MCITP: Enterprise Support, MCTS: Vista Configuration,
    MCSA, MCDST, MCP, A+, Network+

    The I.T. Classroom Blog

    Start. Research. Plan. Perform. End. Test. Evaluate.
    Wednesday, October 22, 2008 1:55 AM