Microsoft announced some welcome changes to their certification programs this last week of September 2016. Before we review the changes, though, I would like to discuss the benefits of certification in general.
Certifications are nice things to have on the resume, but what practical benefit do they have? The biggest benefit that I have found to certification is that they make me examine much more of a product or technology family than I otherwise would. Let’s face it, we all tend to fall into patterns in our workplace and using practices that have worked for us in the past. While there is nothing wrong with that, technology improves at such a tremendous pace that frequently even previously successful best practices can be improved. I have found that studying for certification makes me current on the newest technology practices, and often exposes me to parts of a product or technology that I didn’t realize existed before I pursued the certification. In short, certification keeps me well rounded and current in the technology arena.
That is not to say that Microsoft certifications in the past were perfect. One of the biggest challenges to keeping myself current in the past were the upgrade exams, which needed to be taken every 2 years to maintain certification. I found the upgrade exams were the most difficult exams to take for two reasons. First, they covered quite a bit of territory, as is to be expected. The second reason was more negative. Because everything in the technology world is changing at such a remarkable pace, even the upgrade exams became out of date. I cannot tell you how frustrating it was to study material that was either already obsolete or would be shortly because of new product announcements. I found it difficult to be motivated to learn material that I knew was already out of date. I would much rather spend my time on current or upcoming technologies.
Microsoft has addressed this concern in a big way this week. Current certifications will need to be updated yearly instead of every 2 years, as in the past. However, there will not be the upgrade exams. A student will need to take an exam on one of the current products to continue to show learning progress.
Here’s an example. If I was certified for SQL Server 2008, and wanted to be certified for SQL Server 2012/2014, in the past I would have had to take an upgrade exam. With this announcement, I can instead take the exam for Business Intelligence (BI) or Data Models and Reports for SQL Server 2014 to maintain my certification. That’s a welcome change, and allows those of use interested in maintaining our certifications to use our time to learn new things instead of proving again that we had most of the knowledge from years past.
If you take a Microsoft Official Course (MOC) from us at LRS, you get a voucher so that you can take the certification test for the course for free for 90 days. That is a benefit that we provide to our students as part of our goal of giving our students the best education and opportunities that we can provide. And of course, in our courses, we give you tips on topics that are sure to be emphasized on the exam that matches the course – because we’ve been there and taken those tests.
We look forward to seeing you in one of our courses soon.