I have noticed quite a bit of discussion recently about the merits of Microsoft certification. Some people (like me) think that getting a Microsoft certification is a good thing. It proves that you have at least a certain level of competence with the product, and it shows that you have the initiative to take and pass the exams. It is also likely that you may learn a little about parts of the product that you don’t use on a day to day basis as you study and prepare for the exams. Over my career, I have found that having relevant Microsoft certifications on my resume has helped me get further through the job screening process, certainly helping to get past the typical first level HR screening. On the other hand, a certification is not a substitute for knowledge, experience and judgment.
Whenever people talk about the merits of certification, someone always pulls out a story about someone they worked with who had every certification in the book, yet was basically incompetent. As a result, they think all certifications are worthless. I think this a bit of an overreaction. I think certification is one of many factors to consider when evaluating a job candidate, but I think being certified is a net plus. If you had two candidates with seemingly equal experience and skills, but one was certified, while the other one was not, I would tend to favor the one who was certified.
I do think that it is a mistake to spend a large amount of money getting certified, especially going to one of those certification boot camps that used to be popular a few years ago. If you are not almost ready to pass the exam based on your regular knowledge and experience, I think it is wrong to cram your way through. Several people who I follow on Twitter have announced that they have finished their MCITP-Database Administrator by passing the 70-432 and the 70-450 exams. I think this is a great thing, something to be proud of. It does usually seem to be the case that people who completely discount certification are not certified themselves.
Having your MCITP-Database Administrator and your MCITP-Database Developer is one of the prerequisites for the Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) program that Brent Ozar (Blog), (Twitter) is currently going through. Anyone who has passed MCM definitely deserves a great deal of respect. Even if you have no intention to pursue the MCM, I would advise people to work on getting the MCITP done anyway, since it is likely to help your career far more often than not.