I have always found it interesting and wondered to observe the correlation between being certified and being a technical expert that is both knowledgable and productive.

I believe vendor certs are useful for people practicing on products and technologies from that vendor, in my case SharePoint hence Microsoft. Why I say this?

You will agree that the level of study one has to do to pass an exam (to be certified) increases one’s product\concept knowledge. I believe certs add the dimension of breadth to your skill set while practise (exp, on the job learning) adds depth.

When I say breadth it means that you appreciate the richness of the product\technology and are proactive in approach then just responding to a problem. This helps while architecting solutions, you look at the bigger picture, rather then just being a brilliant code monkey. Most of the time certs teach you what you didn’t know – which basically translates to a lot more moments where you say “That’s out of the box, hence we can reuse that!” They save you from tunnel vision and keep on the begginers mind. You can probably get the same effect with a large number of years of experience but I would like to argue that the cert approach can be a catalyst.

Discussing certs with a number of people in the past has brought in some interesting observations. I have heard comments like: I hired a X individual with Y certs but he or she was useless. Uhun? Can you please clarify that statement: Well, the individual was not able to do his or her work, did not have initiative or required hand holding. I see!

Microsoft exams are no guarantee or for that matter no validation or skill assessment system can guarantee the productivity of a person but to a great level they can show knowledge that a person is perceived to know. I have only met a couple of indivisuals who don’t look favourly at the value of certs and are actually certified. 

I have given about 8 exams recently and I found  the MS cert system has some inert problems. In the exams some questions were misleading or had obvious answers or build on each other – get all wrong or get all right scenario. I think most people will agree that Microsoft needs to make their tests far more task\case based and visual,  not just MCQ driven.

I would love to hear from the community, what they think about certs. Why I am so curious? It is because I hold a bakers dozen of Microsoft certs, mostly one build on top the other and want to associate value to the certs. 

On a personal note I would encourage everyone to go sit an exam, I find that the preparation and writing of an exam is always a great learning experience. So far I have been able to skill up for these certifications: 

  • Microsoft Certified Trainer – MCT
  • Microsoft Certified Professional Developer: Enterprise Applications Developer -MCPD EAD
  • MCTS: .NET Framework 2.0 Distributed Applications
  • MCTS: .NET Framework 2.0 Web Applications
  • MCTS: .NET Framework 2.0 Windows Applications
  • MCTS: Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007: Configuration – Charter Member
  • MCTS: Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services 3.0: Configuration – Charter Member
  • MCTS: Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services 3.0: Application Development – Charter Member
  • MCTS: Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 Application Development – Charter Member
  • Microsoft Certified Solution Developer For Microsoft .NET – MCSD.NET
  • Microsoft Certified Application Developer  – MCAD
  • Microsoft Certified Professional -MCP

MCTS = Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist