I’m coming off of a stint of a few exams in a row to earn my Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD) credentials for ASP.NET 3.5, which I obtained last week!
In the past year, I have also passed a few Microsoft Certified Technical Specialist (MCTS) exams for SharePoint, and today I failed (eep!) the MB2-634 CRM 4.0 Extending Microsoft Dynamics exam (but plan to re-take it).
Throughout this experience I’ve been considering the impact having these “titles” might have on my employer’s confidence in me and how I’m presented to customers. I refer to the certifications as titles because they’re often displayed in email signatures, including mine.
In my limited experience as an interviewer (I’ve interviewed a dozen or so candidates for various positions within and outside of Microsoft), I have found that the old certifications weren’t terribly useful as a distinguisher. Most of the senior-level candidates had a pile of them (MCSD, MCAD, MCDBA, etc), and they were usually old versions of tests that showed they took a bunch of tests at some point in their career. It was nice to be able to fill in the certification check box, but didn’t always indicate relevant exposure or experience.
Things are slightly different for me now that there are more clearly versioned exams (such as the ASP.NET Developer 3.5 or SQL Server 2008 exams), and I feel that the titles can be helpful to distinguish developers on a few factors:
There’s no doubt that Microsoft benefits monetarily when people become certified. Passing active and recent exams helps developers and allows employers to distinguish ones who stay current. It’s not a foolproof method, since passing an exam doesn’t always indicate practical knowledge or experience, but the titles can effectively communicate commitment to learning and staying current.