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The value of Microsoft developer certifications

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  • User profile image
    StigWot

    Hi All,
    I'm currently considering whether to invest the time to obtain the MCAD and MCSD developer certifications. I know that some companies are increasingly putting more emphasis on these qualifications for their staff.

    Recently, we filtered job candidates to those who had achieved an MCAD or higher. After interviewing a select few, we found that many had simply learnt the answers to the exam questions through brain-dumps and Transcenders. Their overall knowledge was limited, and not indicative of their seemingly reputable status as MCAD or MCSD. (Obviously, there were some exceptional candidates).

    What are people's thoughts on how valuable these certifications are - either for themselves or for prospective companies?
    P.

  • User profile image
    mhawley

    Its funny you prompt this. It just so happens I just recently blogged my same thoughts about certificatios. You can find my post and many well responses here.

  • User profile image
    themaffeo

    Any sort of test is susceptible to cheating. 

     

    You’re right, I too know people who have used braindumps or Trancenders to help them get certified by Microsoft.

     

    I also know people who have cheated in nearly every college class.

     

    I also know people who are really slick interviewees – but know relatively little when asked to do a job.

     

    The point is; certifications, degrees, group memberships, awards, interviews, etc. are simply indicators – not necessarily verifications.  That being said, I do think that certifications will help you.  The very fact that your company used it as a criterion should speak for itself: these things are used as indicators that person x might be someone to hire. 

     

    At the end of the day, one generally uses ‘paper’ qualifications for one thing: to make your resume look good to the HR drones so you can get in the door and begin to prove yourself.

    As an addendum:  I realized my first post wasn't clear that I am 110% against using braindumps or trancenders.  I completely believe that they 1) cheat you 2) cheat other developers and 3) cheat microsoft.

    I was trying to intimate that just because some people cheat, that doesn't mean that the tests are worthless.



     

  • User profile image
    Lowrez

    In my company there are a mix of people with and without various certifications.  We don't use them for filtering candidates for jobs because the 'false positive' rate is simply too high.  Instead, we use certification exams as a way of getting ready for a new (to us) technology or to bring a developer up to speed before changing projects.

    So overall, I'd say certifications carry slightly more weight than simply listing what technologies you are experienced with, but much less than being able to talk about practical experience.

  • User profile image
    irascian

    I don't know how valuable they are for employers. I know too many people who've used Braindumps or Transcenders to get qualifications and then wondered why they didn't get the IT career they thought they were going to get as a result. Some of these people seem to fly through the exams but are not the sort of people I'd ever see working in IT.  At one stage local radio here on the UK was advertising MCSE boot camps to the general public which just struck me as really belittling what they SHOULD be about. It's frightening how many store assistants or lorry drivers I know looking at these exams thinking they're some kind of magic pass into IT and lots of money, spending a small fortune on getting qualified and then wondering why nothing happens.

    Personally I enjoyed taking the exams when learning new stuff. They're a great way of giving you the "broad" picture in a new technology when you're starting out, especially with some of the training kits that are excellent (SQL Server and the original Windows training stuff come to mind) although some are dreadful (Analysing Requirements or IIS anyone?).
     
    Admittedly, I haven't taken an exam for two years. I got to the rather silly stage where only two exams would have given me an MCSD, an MCSE and an MCDBA all in one go but was bored with the subjects I had to prep to get those qualifications and decided to move on to other stuff I was more interested in. I keep thinking I ought to update my exams and take the .Net equivalents but feel you really have to study a particulary way (a lot of "learn by rote") which is useless to my job in the real world (Intellisense, MSDN and groups.google.com have a lot to answer for!) and I'd rather spend the time learning and prepping stuff that will be useful in the real world.

    On the job side, I guess if I had two candidates that were otherwise the same and one had put in the effort to get certification and the other hadn't that would push me towards him/her, but otherwise I think they're a fun way of learning new stuff but not much more. Certainly not having these qualifications hasn't held my career back at all - I think real-world experience counts for a lot more.

  • User profile image
    Knute

    I think certifications are good if you have experience with a technology, not to get started. I went to a MCAD.Net boot camp and passed all the tests while several in the class did not.

    It was a good learning experience, I learned never to waste $1600 when I could buy the books and the practice tests myself. The teacher did not know enough meat to teach us and we spent a lot of time studying on our own. The lectures where fast and furious and there was no possible way for you to assimilate all that you need to learn to work with the technology after you left the class.

    Sure you could pass the test, but two weeks later you would not remember 1/2 of what was taught because of the format.

    ~ Knute

  • User profile image
    prog_dotnet

    Texas D.A. Won't Prosecute Alleged Braindumper
    Judge orders assets returned; Microsoft considering civil charges

    22/2004 -- The longest-standing criminal investigation of an alleged braindumper has come to an end without any charges being filed.

    Almost two years ago, San Antonio police seized the business and personal assets of former TestKiller.com and TroyTec.com owner Garry Neale during a criminal investigation of a complaint made by Microsoft alleging that he sold Microsoft certification exam questions, in violation of Texas theft of trade secret statutes.

    Now, Neale's assets -- including $408,566.84 from various bank accounts along with business assets and personal items such as a truck, collectibles, children's video games and a refrigerator -- have all been returned to him by court order. The Bexar County District Attorney's Office has also publicly declared that it no longer intends to criminally prosecute Neale.

    Neale, who was never charged with any crime, declined CertCities.com's requests for an interview. One of his defense attorneys, John Convery, told CertCities.com that he's "very happy" for his client. Convery confirmed to CertCities.com that all of Neale's belongings were returned to him last month.

    According to the parties in the case, a plea deal was almost reached early last year that would have led Neale to plead to a misdemeanor and forfeit half the assets. However, this deal fell through, in part because of a disagreement between the D.A.'s office and Microsoft over who would receive the seized assets.

    Cliff Herberg, head of the white collar crime division of the D.A.'s office, did not respond to CertCities.com's multiple requests for an interview. However, Herberg told the San Antonio Express-News, which broke the story (registration required) March 29, that the plea deal fell through because Microsoft did not agree to the way his office wanted to split the assets. "It was ridiculous," the paper quotes him as saying. "We were arguing over $130,000 or $135,000."

    In an interview with CertCities.com today, Microsoft Senior Attorney Bonnie McNaughton said that Microsoft was not a party to the plea deal, so the company could not comment on any negotiations that took place. "Those were between Mr. Neale and the district attorney's office," she said.

    Read the whole story at;
    http://certcities.com/editorial/news/story.asp?EditorialsID=602

  • User profile image
    Dag

    Lowrez wrote:
    We don't use them for filtering candidates for jobs because the 'false positive' rate is simply too high.  Instead, we use certification exams as a way of getting ready for a new (to us) technology or to bring a developer up to speed before changing projects.

    So overall, I'd say certifications carry slightly more weight than simply listing what technologies you are experienced with, but much less than being able to talk about practical experience.


    I agree. I sometimes interview people that we consider hiring, and the certifications doesn't play a big role for me. It's rather simple to get them.

    But as other people mention, I sometime take one myself if it is a new technology or something that i'm not so familar with.

    I don't know if this also is a culture thing? My preconceived opinion is that it has a higher status in the US than in my contry, Sweden. But I don't know if this is true.

    /dag

  • User profile image
    prog_dotnet

    MCSD for .net its a very tough cert. 
    There will be some variation in the skills aquired in all kinds of cerst,diploma or degrees due to a number of things, (dumps and cheeting included)

    Set aside 15-30 minutes during an intervju and ask the candidate some questions.

    you have 2 minutes for each question...in your own words..

    1. tell me about the garbage collection versioning,
    2. tell me about the assembly binding process
    3. tell me about the asp.net architecture.
    4. tell me about the .net execution architecture
    5. how can you rederict your app to a anohter version of the .net runtime
    6. explain value and refernece types and what is boxing
    7. what is uml, have u used it
    8. explain the ado.net architechture
    9. what is connection pooling
    10, what is assembly linker
    11. what is the procject default namespace
    12. what is distributed arcitechture and why isnt server/client architecturee suited for high volume trafic.
    13. tell me about differences between .net remoting and xml web services
    14. what is logic database design and normalisation
    15. what .net books have your read?

    and in 5-10 minutes

    disucss a app that the candidate has made..


  • User profile image
    Dag

    Good questions. I'll save them for later use.

    /dag

  • User profile image
    Pubb

    My current employer likes certs because we're a MS partner and having certified employees helps our relationship with MS.

    Personally, my view on certification is very simple. I ask myself "Does being certified close any doors for me?" and "Does being certified open any doors for me?"

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