MCSD: Who Needs IT?
Some ways to separate you from other developers in the pack
If my demographics are correct, youre either an MCSE, an MCSE+Espresso,
an MCSE+LargeFriesAndCoke, or some other flavor of MCSE. Notice I didnt
say MCSD? Thats because, at last count, there were more than 400
million MCSEs worldwide, but only six MCSDs. In fact, it was recently
reported that 117 percent of the U.S. population now holds an MCSE. While
these numbers are no doubt apocryphal, its unquestionably true that
there is a great disparity between the number of MCSEs and the number
Without knowing the true reasons for this difference, I can only speculate
inaccurately about what all the potential MCSDs are doing while everybody
else is waiting in line to take the MCSE exams. Just please remember as
you read this list that these items are fictional and have nothing whatsoever
to do with anybodys reality but my own.
Top 7 Things That Keep Developers from Getting Certified
- Answering requests for information about Y2K compliance.
- Installing Visual Studio 6.0.
- Learning SQL Server 7.0, Visual J++ 6.0, IE 5.0, DHTML, Transaction
Server, RDO, and the CryptoAPI to write secure, scalable, load-balanced,
fail-safe, multi-tier, sockets-based database apps.
- Promising the marketing department theyll have the app done
in two weeks.
- Trolling MSDN, Microsoft Support Online, and Usenet for an explanation
of the most recent cryptic error message or obscure problem.
- Arguing the merits of Pizza Hut vs. Dominos.
- Making so much money that it all seems strangely worthwhile.
Any one of these items is enough to keep a developer much too busy to
study for the MCP exams. But MCSEs are busy people too, and somehow they
still find time to study for and take their exams. So perhaps there is
something more to it than just sheer exhaustion and overwork? Could it
be that developers are actually avoiding certification?
We Dont Need No Stinking Certifications!
I surveyed a statistically invalid sampling of one programmer(s) to see
what I could find out. On the basis of this research and other equally
spurious anecdotal observations, Ive concluded that Microsoft certification
simply isnt as important to code monkeys as it is to server jockeys.
Heres why: Arguably, the most important value of a Microsoft certification
is its ability to get you a higher paying job. If those MCSE initials
arent on their cards, network admins and hardware gurus have nothing
concrete to point to that proves their skill. Developers, on the other
hand, can say things like I invented the World Wide Web, or
I wrote Myst, and people immediately understand that the person
theyre dealing with is no mere mortal. Im told that Gavin
Bell, one of the originators of VRML, had a T-shirt that read (on the
front) VRML and (on the back) Wrote It.
Even less glamorous applications, such as reservation systems for leper
colonies and presidential slush fund tracking programs, still command
attention. If you can hand a potential client or employer a program you
wrote or were involved in developing, chances are that may be all the
certification you need.
The last part of my theory is this: Because demand for skilled programmers
is at an all-time high, with companies luring programmers with extravagant
signing bonuses, lucrative stock option programs, and salaries that would
make most people get their hearing checked, good programmers have developed
a You need me more than I need you attitude.
If my theory is anywhere close to correct, I propose that developers
begin to rethink that attitude. Certification is more than just a label,
and its useful for more than just a new job with a bigger paycheck.
When going through the certification process, you almost certainly learn
new things about the technologies you use every day. In short, certification
can actually make you a better developer. Unless, of course, you invented
the World Wide Web or wrote Myst, in which case you have my permission
to be excused.
Em C. Pea, MCP, is a technology consultant, writer and now budding nanotechnologist who you can expect to turn up somewhere writing about technology once again.