Microsoft qualifications

I spotted an interesting link on Adam Veros blog.(whilst cruising Excel calc bug stuff.)

I used to wonder about this (how many people have MS qualifications) way back when I thought Microsoft qualifications weren’t just a marketing tool. (how times have changed!)

I’m sure they used to have a policy of not disclosing how many people had each qualification, but that has clearly changed because here for all to see are the total numbers qualified as MCSD MCSE etc etc.

I have a VS 6.0 MCSD and a .net one. That would be an early .net one, for a while now I have doubted the relevance and value of the qualifications. Especially since they dropped all the technologies I use on a day to day basis in favour of the ones they wished we used. (And in fairness – the ones I wished I used in many cases!)

I have met a few other people recently who have the old Excel developer MCP qualification from 1996, there can’t have been that many of us as they dropped it in 1997 due to ‘lack of interest’. At the time I thought they meant lack of interest from potential candidates in taking the exam, now I wonder if they meant lack of interest from MS marketing?

I might be biased but the published numbers to me look like less and less people are taking the qualifications. Maybe they are getting tougher and more respected? Thats not my view, I think MS marketing have over cooked it and people are starting to recognise it as a thinly disguised marketing scheme.

I’m not saying the course content is useless, far from it, I learned a ton of useful stuff in my studies. What I am saying is that you need to be at the cutting edge of development to gain the most value these days. And you’ll have to stay there to keep your qualification valid.

When I did mine we had to learn a lot of Windows and operating system stuff, now the courses don’t seem to go below the .net framework. That misses a chunk of information that is valuable when you need to nip outside the framework for something.

What do you think? Have you got any, are you working towards them? Are there any exams that deal specifically with the stuff you do day to day?



15 Responses to “Microsoft qualifications”

  1. Marcus Says:

    Hi Simon,

    I’ve got the old Excel MCP certificate also. I think I mentioned in a previous post that is wasn’t highly received when I mentioned it in interviews.

    One friend of mine also did the VS6 MCSD. He’s sentiment was that it had no impact on his rates, but simply acted as a feather in his cap when being compared against another candidate with similar skills/experience.

    In prior conversations most business people have no idea what the MCSD/MCAD qualifications are. Further, few IT depts ask for them. To that end, I’ve no pursued MCSD/MCAD for .Net. I’ve gotten better responses showing clients (business and/or IT) a portfolio of my work.

    Can anyone out there tell us of positive experiences gaining certification?

    Regards – Marcus

  2. Rob Bruce Says:

    I worked for a company that would send developers off to get Microsoft certified because the corporate opinion was that they all spoke the same language as a result and would work better in collaborative design/coding situations.
    I’m not sure if it worked, but I do remember some fantastic arguments over the most arcane details of development technique.
    I was offered the chance to get fully MCSDed up, but told them to hold off so that I could get one of the first .NET qualifications. By the time that was available I had been shifted onto a ‘vital’ new project and there was no time for courses and study, so the whole thing was deferred.
    Of course the ‘vital new project’ was a failure (as 80% are) due to Marketing selling it on features that it couldn’t possibly possess and I was made redundant before I got even a basic MCAD. Maybe I should have insisted on this as part of my redundancy package – after all it had been promised to me for years, but I really couldn’t be bothered.


  3. Dennis Wallentin Says:

    “Can anyone out there tell us of positive experiences gaining certification?”:

    No, which also include ‘badges/titles’.

    I echo that presumtive clients are more concerned of previously work.

    Also, if I’m qualified to do the work in right time and for the right amount of money. One other aspect that is brought up from time to time is about my network. One weakness of being ‘solo’ is the what if …… scenario so I got this on my presentation agenda where I present my local, national and int’l network.

    Kind regards,

  4. Biggus Dickus Says:


    I had both the Excel MCP AND the Access one !!!! When they existed.

    Neither of those certs got me one Penny of value ;-( but only because (as you said) the whole MS Cert business is transparently a marketing thing. In the end my 20+ years of spreadsheet development and my nearly 15 years with Access gets across to people just fine …..

    When Access was dropped I pushed back on MS and eventually I ended up on the phone wioth some kind of VP-type person who told me straight out that :

    “Access isn’t a strategic technology.” ????? Right. End of discussion.

    It’s marketing – plain and simple. The sad thing is that some people at MS get paid to work on all that and it strikes me as a waste of money – or kinda a make-work project – which make no sense to me.

    Oh well – it’s their money I guess.


  5. Biggus Dickus Says:


    “One weakness of being ’solo’ is the what if …… ”

    Yeah – that REALLY gets to me !!! I ask them how many custom software companies, with multiple people in them, are still around five years later anyway??

    Companies are chock-full of staff who are the sole proprietor of some key corporate skill-set. It is what you call “acceptable risk” because the cost of the alternative (if there really is an alternative) is more than they are willing to bear.


  6. Simon Says:

    I started studying for the Access one, but by the time I felt ready it had been retired.

    Good point on staff too, but what really galls is they wont get you direct, but happy to pay an extra 20% to get you through an agency. dumb.

  7. Biggus Dickus Says:

    “but happy to pay an extra 20% to get you through an agency. dumb.”

    Actually that’s happening for staff too…. at most of my clients a huge percentage of their “staff” actually work for an agency (pimp?). It’s an insidious horrible trend that can bring nothing but disaster for everyone (except of course the pimps).

    Maybe we should make a ‘virtual coporation” like the gang at MCW Technologies – maybe a “Multi-National Virtual Cooperative”?


  8. Dennis Wallentin Says:


    I use to add some $$$ to the hourly rate or raise the total price when corporates ask me about “what if…”. If they find the rate/price higher then expected I refer to the costs involved for “what if…”-backup.

    >>Multi-National Virtual Cooperative

    It sure would be impressive with business cards with MNVC Inc!

    Kind regards,

  9. Biggus Dickus Says:

    “I use to add some $$$ to the hourly rate or raise the total price when corporates ask me about “what if…”. If they find the rate/price higher then expected I refer to the costs involved for “what if…”-backup. ”

    But do they GET anything more for their money ;-)

    “MNVC Inc”

    We could set it up in the Caymans so we’d have to have an annual meeting of course.


  10. Simon Says:

    Count me in, I’ve never been to the Caymans

  11. Dennis Wallentin Says:


    Of course they got more in terms of a insurance that a backup for “what if…” exists.

    Me too want to go to Caymans so add me to the list. Can I expect that I, at least, “need” to go there twice / year?

    Kind regards from a cold country,

  12. Simon Says:

    hot but wet:
    I think meetings should be in our winter
    Its actually warm and sunny here (outside!) today

  13. Biggus Dickus Says:

    “Kind regards from a cold country” What cold country is that by the way?

    I live in Canada – now THAT’S a cold country ;-)

    By the way perhaps Bermuda would be better than the Caymans as it is more in the middle of the Atlantic and therefore easier to get to from Europe. It’s supposed to be REAL nice too? (and some of you guys will feel more at home there),


  14. Simon Says:

    The Isle of Man have a friendly tax regime, and no speed limits out of town. Easy to get to from here and Ireland too.
    The weather is as crap as ours though.
    Bermuda has a better ring to it.

  15. Biggus Dickus Says:

    Simon and gang:

    By the way just yesterday I sat down with my biggest client who told me how great I am and how happy they are with my work …blah, blah,blah and then dropped the:

    “but the CFO and the Mine manager are worried if you get hit by a truck” line …. Gulp !!

    They suggested that we find someone local to them who can be the first line of defense and can learn my app and provide that backup support – so i can move on to bigger things for them (or so I can go play in the street I guess ;-)).

    Kinda timely in regards to this thread eh?


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