Microsoft Certifications - Are they worth it?

It's that time of year where I really need to move on my training objectives I set out at the beginning of year. In a rush of blood, I decided to update my .NET certifications to the latest and greatest. One question that comes up in discussions from time to time is whether it's worth the effort.

In the best tradition of consultants, my response to this question is that "it all depends". Personally I don't see any point in going through the certification process simply to get a few letters after your name. I've interviewed enough people over the years with the Microsoft alphabet stapled to their resume who couldn't answer basic real world questions. Instead, the real goal of certification is to learn something. Of course in order to learn something, you may actually have to look at the exam material over a period of time rather than cram it in the night before. Although both strategies may see you certified, it is usually pretty clear in an interview/work situation who has actually tried to improve their skills. So, if you're prepared to put in a bit of effort and learn something, I think certifications are worth it. However, if your goal is to be locked in a room for two hours to stare at a computer and eat lollies, you'd be better off staying at home and playing Age of Empires.

For anyone still reading, my main tip for successfully getting certified is to go ahead and book the exam/s. Having a deadline is a great motivator to get on with it.

Finally, for those that haven't looked for a while, the Microsoft Press training kits for the new MCPD and MCTS exams are now available from your favourite online bookstore.