I'm not sure how many folks believe in the value of Microsoft Certification, but I thought I would share some of my thoughts and recent experiences.
I took a look at my current certification situation and realized my MCSE was on Windows Server 2000. The last exam I took was the LCS 2005 SP1 Exam in 2005. The two before that were Exchange Server 2003 Exams. I never took the opportunity to take the upgrade exam(s) to get from MCSE 2000 to MCSE 2003.
With the new Windows Server 2008 Certification, I didn't qualify to take the shorter route (upgrade) since I didn't have my MCSE 2003. Instead, I had to take the "fun" path and take all 5 Exams to get my MCITP Enterprise Administrator certification (http://www.microsoft.com/learning/mcp/mcitp/windowsserver/2008/enterprise/default.mspx). I also looked at the MCITP Server Administrator certification (http://www.microsoft.com/learning/mcp/mcitp/windowsserver/2008/server/default.mspx) and saw it required one additional exam if I already had the MCITP Enterprise Administrator certification. Since I was looking at updating my certification, I figured I might as well look into the MCITP Messaging Administrator (http://www.microsoft.com/learning/mcp/mcitp/exchange2007/messaging/default.mspx) and MCTS on Office Communications Server 2007. The total exams required to get all these certifications comes to 10. That's right, 10 exams which equals hours of fun and excitement!!!!! :-)
I figured, what the heck, let's go ahead and just try the Vista exam (620) and see what happens. I sign up and sit down at my testing station to find out the exam is scheduled for a maximum of 4 hours! WOW!?!?! I hunker down and about 50 minutes later, I finish and pass the exam. Woo Hoo!!! My co-worker, Chris Henley, eggs me on and convinces me to go for another exam so I sign up and take exam 640 (AD Configuration). Once again, about 50 minutes later I walk away from the testing computer with another Passing grade. So, what do I do at this point? I sign up for and take exam 642 (Network Infrastructure Configuration). Guess what, I pass this exam as well! I was 3 for 3 without any studying (remember, I have been working with these products for quite some time) and decide it would be in my best interest to study a little bit before taking exam 643 (Applications Infrastructure Configuration). But alas, Chris Henley challenges me and once again convinces me to give 643 a go right there and then. I give in to peer pressure and sign up and take 643 and what do you know, I pass that one as well. I take a look at the topics for exam 647 to finish off the MCITP Enterprise Administrator certification and decide what the heck, let's go ahead and give that a shot this afternoon. 60 minutes later, I have my MCITP Enterprise Administrator Certification!!! Wow, was I happy. It is now 5:15 PM and dinner isn't until 6:30, so I decided to take one more exam, 237 (one of the Exchange 2007 exams). I walk out of the testing center at 6 PM and am 6 for 6 on exams for the afternoon. It was hard to believe, but I had just taken and passed 6 exams in a 5 1/2 hour window.
I am not blogging about this to brag, but to let everyone know that if you have experience with the products and have worked with enough with the different aspects of Server 2008, you too have a good opportunity at getting your certification. Imagine if I would have spent a little studying a few of the topics I was a bit weak on - I might have taken less time during the exams themselves (or even gotten a perfect score - :-)).
Since that evening, I have taken the time to take and pass 3 more exams (646, 238 and 638). I just need to take 236 and I'll have my MCITP Messaging Administrator certification.
I do believe there is value in being certified and hence why I decided to get up to date on mine. I will work on keeping my certifications up to date so I won't have to take 10 exams in a 3 day window again.
Did you pay for all those tests or do you get free testing from Microsoft?
Gary, that is a good question.
I happen to be in Seattle for our bi-annual technical training event and Prometric is onsite with "free" testing for us. I'm sure Microsoft does pay for each test, but I don't pay myself.
There are over 100 testing machines in the room and it gets pretty crowded.
Harold, you just proved one of my points around certification.
If you know the product, passing the exam should not be a challenge.
I know you didn't cheat but I wonder if the new forensics software would have flagged you.
Congrats on the certs, overall I thought the exams were a little easier than the 2003 exams (I went the upgrade route)
Let's make it clear, I did NOT cheat in taking these exams. I used my personal hands on experience with the products in taking these exams. There are quite a few questions that are definitely targeted at administrators who actually perform day to day administrative duties of Windows or Exchange or OCS. I admit freely that I don't do day to day administration of any of these in my role, but I am in the business of espousing these products and getting others up to speed on these products. Because of that, I do spend a lot of time installing and configuring these products. I also try different things and try to learn as much as I can about different usage scenarios. It is this experience that helped me to pass the exams I took without spending an enourmous amount of time doing exam prep.
The one exam I had a difficult time with was exam 236 (Exchange 2007) since it had quite a bit of cmdlet syntax on the exam. As I stated earlier, I don't perform day to day duties with Exchange 2007 so I just have not (and will not) memorized all the different options for each of the cmdlets. I am embarrased to admit, but I did have to retake this exam after a little review of cmdlet options before I passed it. For those of you who are Exchange 2007 administrators who work with large deployments, you probably do use a few more cmdlets on a regular basis and would likely do fine.
So like Russ stated in his post, if you know the product and have hands on experience, you should be able to pass the certification exams because you work with it on a day to day basis.
If you don't know the product and just visit the braindump sites so you can pass the exams, then you are doing yourself a disservice as well as the entire certification program (not only the Microsoft program, but any other ones out there).
I guess that's the reason why experience in the product helps you to pass these exams. 6 out of 6...! Way to go!
Trust me...if you've ever held a conversation with Harold, you would be able to tell that he is "certified". No doubt he smoke through the exams in 50 minutes. I believe the same is true of most people in the industry. Even if they are not certified, if they know their stuff, they could easily pass an exam in under an hour. Having the real world experience makes all the difference.