9 Aug 2013

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20 years ago today I sat my first Microsoft exam

Twenty years ago today (9th Aug 2013) I sat my very first Microsoft certification exam. The exam was none other than exam 001 – Introduction to MS-DOS & Microcomputer Hardware. I had to travel a little over two hours to reach the exam centre in my nearest capital city and fortunately I passed the exam so I didn’t waste the trip.

Following exam 001, I took two more exams in 1993 which were Word for Windows 2 and Windows 3.1. These three together earned me a Microsoft Certified Professional title and a 4 digit MCP ID.

FirstThree exams

Since 1993, I have passed a total of 58 exams with the most recent being the 3 exams on TFS 2012 required for the MCSD: Application Lifecycle Management certification.

Having sat all of these exams, I have held quite a number of Microsoft Certifications over the years including many that are still current and many for which I was a Charter Member (C*).

  • Microsoft Certified Application Developer
  • Microsoft Certified Professional
  • Microsoft Certified Professional + Internet
  • Microsoft Certified Professional + Site Building
  • Microsoft Certified Professional Developer: Enterprise Application Developer (C*)
  • Microsoft Certified Professional Developer: Web Developer (C*)
  • Microsoft Certified Professional Developer: Windows Developer (C*)
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (.NET)
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (VB 6.0)
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer: Application Lifecycle Management (C*)
  • Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer
  • Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer + Internet (NT 3.51)
  • Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist: .NET Framework 2.0 Distributed Applications (C*)
  • Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist: .NET Framework 2.0 Web Applications (C*)
  • Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist: .NET Framework 2.0 Windows Applications (C*)
  • Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist: Visual Studio 2005 Team Foundation Server (C*)
  • Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist: Visual Studio 2010 Team Foundation Server, Administration (C*)
  • Microsoft Certified Trainer

Over the years since I sat my first exam I have seen Microsoft Certifications slowly gain value in the eyes of employers and peers in the industry. I also witnessed the bleak years of brain dumps where actual (and often complete) exam questions and answers were available either to buy or for free on the internet. This greatly devalued the certifications and led to terms like “paper-based MCSE” to refer to people that had passed the exams with little or no actual experience. Fortunately the worst of these sites have been closed down and the certifications have regained some, if not all, of their value in the industry.

Holding certifications is not in and of itself proof of much more than your ability to study and pass an exam. You still need to be able to back your certs up with practical knowledge, experience and skills. What I do like is that studying for the exams almost always helps you to expand your knowledge into areas of a product or technology that you may not have know existed, or that you may not have ever needed to use before.

I am very glad I made the decision all those years ago to take my first exam and I anticipate sitting plenty more exams over the coming years. While 58 exams might seem a lot, I am aware of people that have passed over 100 Microsoft certifications exams. I enjoying pushing myself to do these exams but I have a limit to what my brain will hold Smile