Thanks for your recent e-mail. Your questions about Microsoft and Cisco are sufficiently vague that I'm not sure if you're interested in network (or systems) management topics, or developer topics, so I'm going to have to qualify my answers to some degree. On the Microsoft system and network management side, the MCSE still remains an important and worthwhile credential for those who work on Windows networks, with the MCSA an increasingly popular stepping-stone toward that certification. ON the Microsoft developer side, the MCSD is much less popular but no less important as a senior level credential, with the MCAD an emerging step in that direction. For DBAs on SQL Server, the MCDBA is likewise worthy of pursuit, and growing in numbers and cachet.
On the Cisco front, the CCIE remains a non-pareil of technical IT certifications, and clearly yields significantly more income than anything on the Microsoft side (even with multiple senior MS certs compensation seldom exceeds $80-90K per year, and most CCIE's make $120K per year and up).
Likewise, the Cisco Qualified Specialist program is a big winner for security and development types in the Cisco world as well. Not as much income as a CCIE, but often over six figures.
The Project Management Institute (PMI) offers the best project management credentials available to IT professionals today. For those interested in the topic, it's the source of certs that I would recommend most highly because of their depth, coverage, and market recognition (which is still not that huge, but is the biggest "name" in the topic, relatively speaking).
This was first published in September 2002