Behind the scenes: Designing Microsoft’s reinvented certifications

Play Behind the scenes: Designing Microsoft’s reinvented certifications

The Discussion

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    I was intending to take MCTS: 70-515, has this been affected by the new reinventions?

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    Tim Sneath

    Hi Crazyboy10, no changes for the existing developer exams at this time - you'll be pleased to know that we don't instantly retire the current exams. Later this year, you'll see us launch the new MCSD certifications that will support Windows 8, probably starting with the HTML5 exam that we mention in the video. Thanks for the question!

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    The certification exam goals appear to have changed so that they will continue toward not used by programmers and therefore useless to employers (as few if any applicants will have these new certifications).
    Why would a programmer pay to take and retake exams on technologies that rapidly change (making their certifications obsolete) when the cost of time and money is so high?
    If few applicants have these certifications, the employers will be unlikely to be familiar with the value of a certification and will not be set up to provide an appropriate differentation in consideration of whether to employ the candidate and what pay differential they will offer the certified candidate.
    Also, how about certifying employers? How well do they produce requirements, schedule projects with appropriate resources, and train and staff support staff? How well do employers provide the tools and equipment necessary for programmers to perform at their maximum?
    Certifications could be a great contribution to our industry (and I've held MCSEE, MCD, and MCDBA certifications previously) but if they are so costly (in both prep time and testing costs) that few use them, they will largely be ignored and therefore provide minimal contribution to our industry as it continues to change and grow rapidly.

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    @mlaneor:A related problem: if few people have the certifications employers likely will just hire whoever seems the best candidate. Than once the employee is hired in the role it will be hard to justify several thousand dollars of training/exam fees for a certification. The fact that they got the job in the first place proves they don't need it.

    Admittedly I've worked for bad employers at least in terms of their training mentalities but I've never required a certification to get a job and whenever I asked for formal training I got turned down. Reason being "you can already do that so why would we pay you to "learn it"" or "that training is for a different role and we only cover training that is relevant to your current job". At best I get handed a book or a sarcastic "let me google that for you" email telling me to read docs online and play with spare computers to figure things out.

    So in short I haven't been able to get training for both whatever my current job is at the time and for a future job from my employers (government and non-government, startup and 3k+ orgs, both coasts + overseas etc so it isn't just a one industry/location issue). Since I get jobs without the certs I'm not about to drop several k of my own money for them. Certs are fighting a uphill battle against the mentality that msdn and wikipedia can teach you all you need to know for free (well in the case of MSDN at least for the current expected operating costs).


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    The cold hard truth is that msdn and wikipedia can teach you all you need to know for free and far faster to boot.. certs so far has always a step or two behind, especially in our industry where you really should get a firm grasp of a technology while its still in beta.

    Maybe these changes will bridge the gap a little though Smiley

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    Tim Sneath

    Thanks for your comments, guys. I think you raise fair points - not all employers invest in their teams, which means that many people have to train themselves. What we're trying to do with the new certs is to get them out at release wherever possible, and sometimes even earlier. As you say, @aL3891 - if you want to be ahead of the curve then beta is a great time to be doing skills development; but if at the very time that companies are looking for those skills you can demonstrate that you have passed a rigorous exam focusing on that area, you're going to have an edge in the jobs market.

    Similarly, if you have the skills, you should be able to pass the exam already - you don't need to go on a formal training course. If you're a great ASP.NET developer, you should pass the new exam with flying colors; on the other hand, if you have a poor understanding of the technology and rely on MSDN as a crutch rather than a reference, you're going to have a hard time.

    Imagine hiring a web developer today - everyone and their dog has HTML5 on their resume. Sure you can quickly sift through the dross when you get to an in-person interview, but if one of your candidates had passed an exam worthy of the name, you'd know ahead of time that they had the technical skills - which ought to ensure that they got an interview at least.

    That's what we're going for - certs that measure real on-the-job skills, that have a good enough reputation in the market that employers look for candidates with that level of accreditation.

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    Hmm...reinvented... not reimagined ??? Tongue Out Tongue Out

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    Paul S

    Originally, the SE in the MCSE credential stood for Systems Engineer; now it means Solutions Expert. Why the change in designation?


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    Have the tests been fixed so they don't error out in the middle?

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    @Paul S:Paul, thanks for your question.  We added "Solutions" to the name because the new MCSE certifications require broader knowledge and skills across solution areas that encompass multiple technologies.  We added "Expert" (and, by the way, "Associate" for the new MCSA) to consistently represent our mainstream technical certifications in progressive levels--associate, expert, and master.  I was pleased that we were able to add new meaning and consistency while bringing back the familiar and well-recognized MCSE name.

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    Hi Tim, Having done 10 MCP's over a decade ago, i've decided it was time to prove and more interestingly improve my knowledge again.

    I thought I would start with looking at the HTML5 exam, I was very disappointed to see nothing at all in the Preparation Materials page on the Microsoft Learning Web Site !!

    I am familiar with resources like w3schools, looks like the first 20% of the skills being measured is Microsoft specific and could do with some links to resources that cover this.

    I'm a fan of MVA looking forward to the day when at least an intro course is available for every certification subject area.

    Kind regards


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