It used to be easy – a new version of your chosen software package would come out and you’d go (at some stage in the products lifecycle) and do the exam to prove that you knew all the ins and outs of the new features.
So if you’re a DBA, you’d keep up with the latest version of SQL Server (or DB2, Oracle or whatever), if you’re an email administrator, ditto for Exchange and so forth.
The value of certification has been discussed in many a forum by many IT Professionals and the opinions range from “it’s just a piece of paper – I don’t need that to prove how good I am at X” to “it’s the only impartial way to show a prospective employer or client what I know”. I’m firmly in the latter camp.
I have been Microsoft certified since 1996, I take between two and five exams per year and I keep up with several key Microsoft technologies. You can see all about my achievements on my Virtual Business Card here, click on learn more to see the whole list.
The main reason I do all that study and spend the time learning new technologies isn’t to further my career (I love teaching where I teach at the moment), to gain more clients (most of them don’t really know what my certifications mean anyway) or even to be a better teacher. It’s simply my way to show myself that I really do know new technology – a case of personal satisfaction. And it’s also “insurance” for the future, should I find myself looking for a job at some point.
When I wrote my piece on what the cloud will mean for IT Professionals for the CloudBold.com website (read it here) I was lamenting the fact that there really was no “Cloud IT Pro” certification, from Microsoft or anyone else. That’s about to change as Microsoft is introducing Private Cloud Certification with two new exams focused on System Center 2012 technologies and how they enable the Private Cloud. And lets not forget the two new exams focused on Microsoft’s Public cloud – Office 365. I took both of those exams in beta in January – I haven’t received confirmation whether I passed or not yet.
You can read more about how Microsoft keeps their exam development process current here and you can read about the new Private Cloud certification here.
Will I take these two new exams (70-247 and 70-246)? Absolutely! Will I take them in beta form? If the gods smile on me and I’m picked out of the list of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) Microsoft have on file – I love taking beta exams. The challenge is bigger when there’s no ready made study material available.
So, as I say to my students at TAFE (the local IT Academy where I teach), becoming Microsoft certified is part of landing that first (and hardest to get) job in IT, and the above certification paths is evidence that Microsoft’s program is evolving to encompass that most elusive of new job roles – the Cloud IT Pro.
Thanks for reading.