Jan 222013

geek-300x300I have been working, post-college, as a programmer for going on 9 years now. I have been working for the same company as a programmer over 5 years. I have not earned a single Microsoft certification. Every year I try to set a goal to complete a certification and every year I never do it. I do not feel that not having a certification has had a negative affect on my career or my job. In fact I’m beginning to wonder if continuing to try to get certified is moot.

There has to come a point where years of experience provide a better measure then certifications. I cannot conjure up a scenario for a standard programming job where someone with just a certification and little to no experience will be a better selection then someone will several years of experience and no certifications. Perhaps if the job were entry level and the job wouldn’t really benefit someone with lots of experience, after all I remember what its like to be right out of college and trying to find a job with very little experience under my belt. Those entry level jobs are a godsend.

I have gotten as far as actually taking a certification exam but missed the cutoff by one question. I remember studying the material and thinking that it will be extremely unlikely that I will even use two-thirds of it. In fact, 5 years later I still have yet to even use half of the material covered and it was “fundamentals”. It’s kind of like reading material on how a combustion engine works when all you will really be doing is changing the tires.

Furthermore, it feels like its not worth completing a certification when it seems that every couple of years Microsoft changes what each certification means and what tests are required. Sometimes even the tests themselves are changed or retired. MCSE, MCSD, MCIT, MCPD, do all of these still exist? Are any of them still prudent? Speaking of Microsoft, they really aren’t the industry leader anymore so wouldn’t that also affect the value of their certifications? They are starting to become the old senile relative in the room who only thinks they are still relevant when really acknowledging their existence is more patronizing then recognition.

Perhaps certifications are good for those folks that don’t have a lot of experience and need to build up their credentials, but if you are a seasoned developer, I really don’t see the point in spending the money.


  3 Responses to “Are Certifications Still Worth It?”

  1. Obviously I disagree. As a developer, you have to constantly stay ahead of the curve. That’s why we got into this industry in the first place. Microsoft is definitely shifting their approach to certifications such that they actually carry weight. Now certifications aren’t the only way to stay ahead of the curve. However, they show commitment to your craft. They can help separate developers from leads from architects IMO. They help your employer position your practice for more strategic / best-in-class project work.

  2. I think those are valid points and I agree that certifications definitely contribute to the strategic positioning of a company. However I don’t really think you need a certification to “prove” you are keeping up with the technology. I’m reading articles from various industry publications and websites (for instance, I have an MSDN magazine subscription) and checking out new technology as I read about it. I was using Ajax before we had the .NET toolkit so its been worthwhile to read these articles.

  3. I do appreciate your feedback Brandon, I’m still at an impasse on this because its difficult to find the time to even prepare for these exams.

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