Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

is MCSE/MCSD useful for the knowledge?

I am an independent consultant/developer/sysadmin who helps various companies build out "intranets."  In the past I did mostly huge oracle/web/unix based intranets, but my most recent contract was a sharepoint/XP/SQL Server/Office intranet.

I have to admit that I am not that experienced with windows stuff, but am having fun with it right now, and have long experience building out intranets in general, so I can easily learn stuff on the fly.

However, I would like to "just know" how to fix something when it breaks, rather than having to dig up the information on newsgroups whenever i run into an issue. The development stuff isn't my main concern, i'm more concerned with being able to fix systems and DBA issues immediately, rather than digging around for the information.

If I go through the training materials for an MCSE or MCSD and get one of these certifications, will I have internalized most of the information needed to "just know" how to answer systems-y questions, and fix stuff? Or will I still be referring to the news groups?  One reason I ask is when I worked heavily with Oracle, one of the more useful reference books I used was an enormous Oracle certification guide.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

I got an MCSD 3 years ago and once completed, found that I still knew next to nothing...

I could write a little bit of code but just a little.  3 years in the trenches and I am almost worth something.


Wednesday, November 19, 2003

I took the 4 MCSD tests in a period of 2 months during mid-1999 and passed all 4 easily.

I used the VB 6 test (because the C++ tests wern't out yet) and passed both the desktop and distributed tests with just a month of studying. My total practical experience in VB at that point was probably 6 months (and a lot of that was back in VB 3 days...). I did, however, have plenty of C++ Windows development experience which helped.

I did know more due to my studying, but taking the tests and getting the MCSD has done little for my career. I got an MCSD because the company I was working for was an MS Partner and wanted me to get certified - they laid me off about 2 months after I got my certification. No other potential employeer has asked about it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

You've got to be kidding right?  Browse the books, they're that simple it would be insulting to a newbie.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Yes and No.  If you approach the examination as an opportunity to expand your knowledge and learn as widely as you can, then you will have internalized most of the material that is important for most tasks.  However this does not mean that you wont need to refer to newsgroups and other internet  forums for exceptional cases.

<rant>  I really hate it when pple approach learning and getting examined as a chance to add one more paper under their belts.  Most people will just read enough pass the exam and not bother getting more in-depth knowledge on the subject.  Some will even go futher and cheat (brain dumps!) just to pass the exam.  The worst  part of this sad story is that it happens at almost all levels of learning.... </rant>

Thursday, November 20, 2003

What the MCSE stuff will do is give you the background so that you can identify the problem more easily. Unfortunately most of the problems that will crop up will not be covered in the books - that's why they're problems :)

The tests were never intended for newbies; they were for people who already had six months to a couple of years experience working with Windows networks.

Try and not get a book tied directly to the exam as your primary source - they tend to be much too restricted to answering the questions. Try a couple of books by Minasi - he covers the why very well.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, November 20, 2003

I doubt that mister William Gates has an MSD, and the idea of Microsoft setting standards for developers is a bit suspect too.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home