By John Sonmez November 10, 2016

Are MCSD Certifications A Good Option?

A lot of programmers ask me this question: Should I get MCSD certifications? Well, to answer this question, first, we need to address what is MCSD and talk about if certifications are a good way to build a viable (and smart) career choice.

The Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer is Microsoft's prevailing certification for programmers and application developers. The MCSD covers current Visual Studio versions (for the MCSD: Application Lifecycle Management cert) and also emphasizes HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, C#, ASP.NET, Azure, Web Services and SharePoint. Within each credential you'll find various specialties that focus on specific job roles or target specific application types. There are a lot of options to choose from in this program, which currently includes five different MCSD credentials, including Windows Store Apps, Web Applications, SharePoint Applications, Azure Solutions Architect and Application Lifecycle Management. Depending on the MCSD certification sought, candidates can expect to take three or four exams to obtain the credential. There are no required training courses, though all MCSD exams are associated with one or more Microsoft Official Curriculum course offerings. Look for online learning deals for the best bang for your buck.

So, these are one of the most common types of certifications and people can be really obsessed with it.

However, are these the only option to boost your career? What should you really consider when it comes to getting certifications? Should you even consider getting certifications if you're looking for a job?

Transcript Of The Video

John Sonmez: Hey, what’s up, John Sonmez from simpleprogrammer.com. I got a question here specifically about the MCSD qualification, whether it’s beneficial. This question comes from Joy and she says, “Is the Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) qualification beneficial in the long run? If so, do I need all of them to make it to the top?” Additional info, she says, “I’m a second year student at iStudent Academy, part-time intern junior programmer from South Africa. I have written the 70-480 and 70-461 Microsoft exams it takes up most of my time preparing to write. This is so heavy, I feel like I’ve got a lot of weight on my shoulders. I have no time and no college.” No time in college I’m assuming she says.

I actually—some of you don’t know this, but I actually have the MCSD certification. I got MCDBA, MCSE, I basically did all the Microsoft certifications way back in the day. I did it for a couple of reasons. One of them is because I was sort of transitioning trying to break into being a full time developer, kind of transitioning between testing and I wanted a way to prove that I knew what I was doing that I was qualified and I wanted to be able to advance, to be able to have something that other people didn’t have, some kind of qualification that proved that I was willing to work hard. It wasn’t necessarily about the knowledge. It was just that if I showed my boss, if I said, “Hey look, look at all these certifications I got, and look at the work that I did to get these.” It shows that I’m motivated and I’m investing in my education and that I want to advance and that is more impressive than the certification itself or the value from the certification.

That’s what I would say with this is you have to be careful. I’ve done a video on certifications before. You can check out is it worth getting the certification or whatever that video is called. But I want to talk specifically—talk a little bit more about that in this case. Why are you getting the certification? What is your purpose? Is it because you think you’re going to get a better job by having the certification? Is it because you think you’re going to gain some knowledge by doing it?

In my experience certifications—they are similar to college degrees in the respect that they don’t necessarily mean anything by themselves. I know plenty of people that have college degrees, especially MBAs but don’t know jack. They don’t know jack about anything. It’s not that you can’t go to college or you can’t get a certification and learn a lot, you can if you apply yourself and your goal is to learn. But you can also get the degree or get the certification without knowing anything. And a lot of intelligent people realize that and so that sort of devalues the degree, but more so, devalues the certification.

But I’ll tell you what a certification does tell you about a person. It says that, one, that they’re trying that they’re serious, that they take their career seriously. It tells you that they can put their mind to a task and complete that task and succeed at it. You’ve probably heard people say similar things about college, about getting a college degree.

The value of a certification is not in the certification itself. It’s in the fact that you have moved, that you have taken steps, that you have completed something that is somewhat difficult and you have made it through and you’ve invested in your career. That’s the real value of it.

I think this is important to understand because it’s how you present yourself. If you have a certification on your resume it’s honestly, probably more likely to get looked at, but you’re not going to get the job based on that certification alone. No one is going to say, “Oh, you’re an MCSD? Oh, well, I’ve got to hire you. I don’t even need to interview you.” That’s not going to happen.

But when you’re in the interview and you talk about why you got the certification and what that means—and the struggle that you went through and how you stuck with it and you got through it and what you learned along the way, that’s where the value lies. It’s really up to you.

Some people try to get all these certifications, they think it’s a shortcut especially in the IT world. I think people used to try to get the CISCO CNAs certification and the A+ certification so they can work and they think that’s going to just get them wonderful job. That’s not the case. That’s not the case with MCSD. It’s not the case with any certifications. The thing is that you’ve still got to learn. You’ve still got to have the ability. You’ve still got to have the skills. The certification is something that can enhance that and help you on top of that.

The only exception to this, I would say, especially since you’re asking specifically about this MCSD certification is that if you want to get a company working for a consulting company or a solution provider, they love those credentials. Because then they can say that our consultants are MCSD certified. In fact, some Microsoft consultants that specifically deal in Microsoft products they won’t even hire you or as soon as you get hired they’ll require you to get that certification so that you can say that you are certified because that looks good to their clients.

Again, certifications to employers don’t necessarily looks so good. It’s the same argument for the college, but to clients, especially if you’re a freelancer then that can come into play because that’s a creden—that’s why you see all these certifications for doctors or for lawyers or architects, right? It’s not to get a job, although it can help, but it’s because clients like that because that gives clients some amount of trust. There’s definitely more value there.

Like I said, if you’re going to work for one of these consultancies, if that’s your aim, then go ahead. The certification is going to be extremely valuable. If you think you’re going to get a job just on the value of the certification its not going to happen, but it’s worthwhile to do, but don’t stress yourself out so much. If you feel like it’s too much and you can’t do that with college, finish the degree, don’t worry about the certification. Maybe you can do certification later, but you’ve got to balance it out and you’ve got to make a decision for yourself.

If I look back on my own career, do I regret getting the certifications? No, they help me a lot, honestly. The biggest way that they help me is that they put me—they made me distinct from everyone else. All my peers they were—at a review time when they ask for promotion they didn’t have—they hadn’t read 40 books in the last year, they hadn’t gotten 5 certifications, right? Having all those things helped to show that I was serious and I was dedicated and I was going to the top and you can’t stop me. That’s why I did it—that’s the value—the real value I got from that was really in that one instance.

So, anyway, great question. If you’ve got a question for me, you can always email me at john@simpleprogrammer.com. If you like this video I have a request for you which is to click that subscribe button below. If you’re already a subscriber, a thumbs up and like is always appreciated and as always you can share the video if you think it will help someone who is worrying and stressing about _____[inaudible 00:07:28]. Talk to you next time. Take care.

About the author

John Sonmez

John Sonmez is the founder of Simple Programmer and a life coach for software developers. He is the best selling author of the book "Soft Skills: The Software Developer's Life Manual."