Certification Mania or What to do with free time at TechEd
I've never been able to get myself motivated to pursue the Microsoft certifications in the past, the value proposition for me as a BizTalk Server developer was never there. First, for a long time there were no BizTalk certifications, and even once they created such certifications I was never asked about them when pursuing positions.
But some of that has changed, first I now work for a Microsoft Gold Partner and the more certified people they have on staff, the easier it is for them to maintain that status. Secondly I'm currently engaged in some internal planning and as part of that it was going to be very helpful if I knew just exactly what was required to achieve the BizTalk certification. Enter TechEd and PearsonVue...
On Monday and Tuesday at TechEd 2007 I had some free-time, some by choice because none of the tracks interested me, some because the sessions I wanted to attend were canceled. PearsonVue had a testing center setup at TechEd and had lowered the exam cost to $50 per test. That was well within the area at which I could "risk" the money on not passing, so I decided to take 70-235 “Developing Business Process and Integration Solutions by Using Microsoft BizTalk Server 2006”. I've been working with BizTalk Server since 1999 when I was part of an organization doing Alpha and Beta adoption of BizTalk Server 2000. I know the product very well, but I still expected to fail because I have always had the impression that the certification exams covered minutia that you would not encounter in your day to day work with the product. Apparently I was wrong, I passed the exam and in so doing earned the "MCTS: BizTalk Server 2006" certification.
So since I was pleasantly surprised by what was expected for that exam, I decided to take TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 – Application Development Foundation, which I also passed. That exam had allot of asynchronous questions on it, but I did well enough. So since I was now officially on a streak I went and took TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 – Distributed Application Development, which I also passed. That means I've also met the qualifications for "MCTS: .NET Framework 2.0 Distributed Applications".
Finally I did take, but not pass, the Web exam as well. It contains two question areas that I was weak on, and that was my undoing. Specifically it contains questions on Mobile web development, and "Deployment Scenarios" which are all about which Wizard/Tool you would use. Since almost all my deployment scenarios for Web are done manually because I understand what each of the files in the solutions do, I was weak on the tools which publish/copy your site for you.
All in all, it was a good week, and I'm pleased with the quality of the certifications from Microsoft. It's not going to guarantee you an guru, but it will ensure you've got someone competent at the technologies.