In one way or another I keep stumbling on threads / discussion on certifications. Whether or not certifications are useful, or whether a certification means you’re skilled. Here’s my ten cents on the subject.


Here are some of the arguments against certification:

  • I’m experienced, why bother with a certification!?
  • Everybody can pass an exam by using cheat sheets which are available on the internet!
  • If you are certified it doesn’t mean you are skilled! You should get experience!

And most of the time – and probably by no coincidence – it is the people which are not certified that use these arguments. Now I will try to counter those arguments based on my experience with developers.

Reinventing the wheel

“I’m experienced, why bother with a certification!?”
Answer: It keeps you from reinventing the wheel!

Have you noticed it’s always the experienced developers who keep reinventing the wheel? And it is pretty obvious why they reinvent the wheel. They are experienced and know how something can be solved. They don’t know however that that same solution is already in the framework. A framework is like a toolbox and without reading books you will only scrape the surface of that toolbox. One reason for reading books… preparing for an exam.

Real life example:

One day a developer had to show me something awesome he developed. He developed an extension method to transform a SPListItemCollection into a data table. He is an experienced developer so the code looked lovely. Nicely refactored, no duplication etc. etc. But his jaw hit the ground the moment I showed him the “GetDataTable()” method. He wasted a whole day of work(if not more) to reinvent the wheel.

Do you know:

  • Mail definitions?
  • TraceListeners / Switches / TraceWriters?
  • HashSet?
  • <system.net><mailSettings>?
  • Health Monitor / WebEvents?
  • Membership, Authentication and Profile providers?
  • DbProviderFactories?

And that’s just to name a few of the things I see reinvented continuously.

And lets be honest. If you are that experienced and if you are so good at what you are doing, how hard can it be to pass an exam? Put your money where your mouth is!

Make yourself useful

“Everybody can pass an exam by using cheat sheets which are available on the internet!”
Reply: You are not everybody!

If you plan to pass an exam by cheating, indeed, don’t bother with it. It’s just that you can not use that as an excuse for yourself. You are responsible for the way you pass your exam, let the others be responsible for the way they pass their exam.

Getting experienced

“If you are certified it doesn’t mean you are skilled! You should get experience!”
Reply: True!

But being certified is a great basis for becoming skilled! You’ve learned what tools there are, and now you can get skilled in using those tools. If you don’t know what tools there are, it will take a lot longer to get skilled and you’ll probably get yourself skilled on how to get a screw into the wall with a hammer.


To me there is NO EXCUSE for not being certified. If you are that good and experienced… prove it. If you can’t prove it, you are probably not as good as you say you are.




  • I don't get certifications to please others. Most organizations realize that anyone can pass an exam. Just like anyone can get a college degree. I have worked with people who have degrees and certifications who did not have a clue. So the value of the certification has to be weighed against the skills/experience of the person.

    I do agree that certifications serve a purpose. I use them the help me learn new stuff coming out of Microsoft. I find that by studying I force myself to learn the features. I don't care how others view my certifications and I don't expect any extra weight for them.

    So get them, don't get them, it is up to you. Every individual knows what is best for them.

  • I believe you should study the certification material and develop a competence to pass the test if you ever take it. I personally am trying this and have been over the MCTS material. However, my opinion is that the use of certification depends on how it affects the individual- no that everyone must take it. Consider these:

    1. By the time you have finished studying, a new version of .NET has already come out.

    2. MCTS has not fully recovered from it's bad rap- not every one certified knows how to build great software; they just know book-material.

    3. It is good resume food but it no guarantee of a job. It is only needed if you are a consultant or your boss waggles a hefty pay raise if you come certified.

    None of these are strong excuses for not to getting certified. However, not everyone has a need to get certified. This may change in a year but not tommorrow. I still say it is best to know the material though.

  • Surely if you are certified doesn't mean you are skilled! Well it all comes from the efforts you have put in to get certified.

  • Certification adds value to a person and organization and shows he/she is skilled. Still experience (routine) will add more value when achieved through doing projects. It even adds more value if person is doing his/her project after certification and is guided by very skill/experienced person to learn best practices out there in world and from experience by others (books, blogs, wiki’s, forums, conferences and so on). In the end certification has value and can help people on their way to gain experience and profit from their gained skill. That is my 10 cents to the discussion. See you soon to discuss this matter more.

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