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.