I am often asked which is more important, training or experience?

I can only really answer this from my own point of view, and this is heavily influenced by my background in the electrical and thermography industries.

Some people will argue that training is more important as you cannot gain experience without training. There are also people who point out that as so many successful people dropped out of college (Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Michael Dell etc) that experience is more important than training.

After leaving school I became an electrician, this started with an apprenticeship. My experience as an electrician starts after I have completed my apprenticeship. The apprenticeship that I completed was a mix of theory and practice. Once I had completed all the requirements I qualified as an electrician. Without that strictly controlled industry learning program, I could never become an electrician, no matter how much experience I gained. There are many industries like this.

Experience is of course very important, but only if you learn from the experience, and there are no guarantees that this will be the case. Many people certainly do learn outside a formal training environment, but this is often limited to learning from their own mistakes. Training provides an opportunity to learn from the mistakes of others, or allows mistakes to be made in an environment that will not do any damage.

The reality is that BOTH are of equal importance. Training enhances the experience, and experience validates the training. Good quality training will certainly prevent people making mistakes and make people think more about what they are doing. Good experience will help make sense of the training, and will demonstrate the problems that were highlighted during the training.

So where exactly does certification fit into this?

Certification is really nothing more than written proof of qualification, and qualification is just some conditions that must be met (in some cases). Certification schemes like that offered by BINDT (PCN) simply provide the conditions of qualification, and then the certify that you have met those conditions. The certificate issued does not in itself qualify you, it just validates that you have met the conditions.