certificates, personal development

My desired certification path (as ASP.NET Developer)

It’s good to have a plan. If you have got a plan, the only thing needed is to follow the steps. Professional certification is one of many ways a counscious developer should follow. Later I’ll try to answer whether it is worth the effort or not, but first I’m attaching my personal diagram. It’s simplified version of the new certification path proposed by Microsoft altered with other interesting certificates. The one below is focused on Web Development mixed with Windows Store Apps but close to Web technologies (I think it’s good to be up-to-date with all the applications of HTML5 and JavaScript – that’s the demand of the market). certyficates

You can find here only the new path. Microsoft suggest to upgrade your skills from “MCPD 4” to the new MCSD/MCSM. Does it mean that former titles are deprecated? I think not. Companies will still develop bigger systems in not-so-old MVC 3.0 or WPF, but the trend is to go HTML5, no matter Web or Desktop. All in all, I still personally consider passing “Windows Applications Development with Microsoft .NET Framework 4” (just because I’ve been preparing myself for it for some time), but to strenghten your personal brand in marketplace it’s good not to stop.

Are certificates worthy?

I want this post to be short (there is a plenty of blog posts covering the topic), so that I’ll list pros and cons without further comments.
Advantages:

  • Your employer get additional point as Microsoft Partner – that’s why your boss wants to fund your exam. And it’s great deal for him because as a partner he has considerable discount for Microsoft tools and services.
  • Sales department can prepare better offer for customer – the offer is built upon company’s portfolio and competences of employees. Well-known certification is perfect way of proving them. But you have it in mind – you should not pass the full list of your certification center – choose only the known brands.
  • For freelancers – it’s very similar to the point above. Certification is the simplest way of convincing non-technical person (a.k.a. “customer”) to your competencies (blog posts, friends recommendations and stackoverflow rating may not be enough).
  • Certification lets you get in the door for an interview – people claim that they got hired because of certification. Of course job interview verifies the skills possessed not just papers, but it’s much more likely that headhunter invites certified specialist.
  • Preparing to exam – best if in group, creates an opportunity to share knowledge with others (not always connected with the subject of certificate – I remember great talk about R# shortcuts while preparing to EPiServer Exam), put pressure on exploring unknown areas of some technologies (like i.e. Accessibility in ASP.NET).

Disadvantages:

  • Practically no one requires them – myth, they not ask you about it in job offers or interview, but if there are two guys, for sure recruitment department would ask for the certified one.
  • Does not go in pair with skills, everyone can pass the exam – yes, that’s true. Everyone can go through braindump and pass.  That decreases the value of certificase. It’s even a two-edged sword – recruiter may want to prove that you do not possess certified skills. That’s why certification is not where you can just stop. But it’s like with University – everyone can finish, but if you do not have a title – you are eliminated without knowing.
  • The same time I can do something better – of course you can, but will you? That was my mindset, but then it’s hard to control yourself. In opposite, if the date of the exam is scheduled or you participate a study group, it puts pressure on following the path of your career.
  • Does not quarantee any financial bonus for you – can be true, but it’s not only about money (see “advantages” :] ).

Is certification enough?

The answer is obvious – not. Beside certification there are several, even more interesting activities and honors:

  • external courses and groups
  • posting board and social activity – like becoming MVP
  • blogging
  • beeing a speaker on public events
  • own portfolio, realizing open-source projects
  • In my opinion you have to go towards many paths in parallel. One day you prepare yourself to the exam and another you take care of your pet project. I think it’s about your self-discipline and that’s the reason why I want to continue with my path – I have just passed EPiServer CMS 6 exam and, while still motivated, I will try to organize with some group and pass the others from the diagram above. I encourage everyone to use or modify it (give me a sign in comment), maybe we can create something perfect together.

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