Dave's Notebook

Why Get Certified?

Last week I mentioned that I’m working toward getting my MCSD certification.  Several weeks ago I received my ScrumMaster Certification.  This raises the question, “Why get certified at all?” What follows is a list of reasons why I am perusing certification.

I don’t know what I don’t know

I know what I know.  And I can figure stuff out pretty fast when I need to know it.  So working without certification has been working for me for a pretty long time.  However, while I was studying for my ScrumMaster Certification, I realized that while I had most of the concepts right, there where a few holes in my thinking.  Studying for the ScrumMaster certification filled in those holes.


The reason I went after ScrumMaster certification was because everywhere I go, everyone has  their own definition of what Scrum looks like.  Most of them only know about Scrum from what they’ve heard about it from very informal sources. Only one that I know of is certified. But when I was talking about Scrum or Agile, it was my opinion against someone else’s opinion.  While I was sure I was right, if I were honest about it I had no more reason to believe I was right than anyone else. Now, with the certification, I have someone else saying I know what I’m talking about.  And since I got 100% of the 30, rather difficult, questions right, I have a higher confidence that my understanding of the subject is correct.


After I passed the test for the ScrumMaster certification, I realized that I am afraid of tests.  I used to say that all a certification did was show that you could pass a test.  But I’ve realized recently that that may have just been a cover because I didn’t want to take the test and fail. So, the reason I’m going after my MCSD is because I’m afraid of the test.  So, I fail.  So what?  At least in the process of studying for the test I’ll learn a few things.  The worse thing that can happen is that I don’t get the certification.  Ironically, from that point of view, not trying to get certified puts me in the same, if not worse, situation.  Not studying means no certification AND I haven’t learned anything in the process of studying for the exams.

Birds of a feather

I find it interesting that I personally only know one person who has their  MCSD.  Could that be because I don’t have MY MCSD?  Could it be that the organizations where all of the people who have their MCSD only hire people who have their MCSD?  I know several really good programmers.  Only one has their MCSD.  The others could get it if they wanted to.  But are they stuck in their current position because they aren’t certified?  It’s worth finding out.

The test isn’t a joke anymore

For the longest time, my attitude about the test, as I mentioned above, was that it only showed that you could pass the test.  It didn’t really say you knew how to program or that you knew how to use the APIs.  I’m not the only one who felt this way.  Do a search online and you’ll find statements from years ago that say as much. While I’m sure it might be possible to pass the exams and still know nothing about how to program or how to use the APIs, it does seems that Microsoft is doing a much better job at ensuring that people who pass this certification can actually do the work as well.

Other places talking about the MCSD