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New Microsoft Certifications

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The curtain is rising on a new set of Microsoft certifications. I’m particularly interested to see how the new exams fare, as I’ve contributed some blood, some sweat, and quite a few tears in contributing content to these exams, as have many others.

The value of a certification is a hotly debated topic. I think you have to examine the subject from two perspectives.

From a personal perspective, I believe the value of a certification is what you make of it. When I studied for my MCSD years ago, I spent time looking at the objectives, then reading books, looking at examples, and most importantly: writing code. When my certificate arrived, I felt I had truly earned something of significance.

Contrast this experience with people I know who work for large consulting firms. Big consulting firms like developers with certifications because they can bill the dev out at a higher hourly rate. The firms will happily send a dev to a one week crash course with a Friday afternoon exam. If the dev already has the skills, you could say this might not be a bad idea, but I’m sure for many people in that scenario, all they earn are pieces of paper with colored ink.

Then there is the other side of the coin. What value do you apply to a certification when you are looking at job candidates? I’d never hire a person just because they have a cert, and I’d never give a thumbs down to someone because they didn’t have a cert. The trick in small companies is to hire people who are passionate about their chosen profession, certification or not.

In any case, software certifications need to continually evolve, improve, and refine themselves, just as software development does. I hope the industry perceives this set of exams as raising the bar – I’ll feel proud.