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Should I go for Microsoft certification?

I am 48 and have been in IT for 24 years. I am currently a Network Operations Manager overseeing all aspects of the Network including voice communications. I am Novell 3.12 certified and my salary is "way" above the industry norm. I am not Microsoft Certified but have been working with their products for a very long time. My question is, should I go after my Microsoft certification? I do not know if it still carries weight when job hunting, or are companies now looking for hands-on experience. If so, do I need to go for the MSCE?
It's easy to observe as a result of recent employer and salary surveys that Microsoft credentials command less respect and open fewer doors to "guaranteed employment" than they did in the heyday of the late '90s. That said, most studies still show a correlation between salary and certification at all levels of experience. But since you're already significantly ahead of industry norms, it's by no means assured, or even clear, that the general correlation that appears to hold across the entire profession also applies in your particular case.

My advice is to do the best possible job of documenting what you know, what you can do, what kinds of problems you've solved, how you've contributed to your employer's bottom line, and other accomplishments and positive aspects of your work experience. I assume you must be considering another job, or you wouldn't be asking about this, so here's my considered advice: do the best job of crafting a strong resume and an equally strong cover letter that stresses your knowledge, skills, accomplishments, and ability to deliver good returns on IT investments. Use this to test the waters in the job market and see what results: if you can meet or match your current level of pay, you don't need to worry about certification. Only if you get no nibbles, or the offers you entertain are less than what you're looking for should you consider investing the time and effort necessary to pursue MCSE or other credentials.

This was last published in February 2005

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