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There are several different certifications available for SharePoint 2010.

For IT Pros:

For Developers:

and Microsoft Certified Master on Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010

How valuable is it to study for these certifications (just to become better at SharePoint), and how valuable are these certifications to employers?

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Hmmm... There are quite a few objective answers to this question below. – Sean Earp Apr 12 '11 at 23:25
If you feel this was unfairly closed then please bring it up on our Meta site so the community can discuss it. – Alex Angas Apr 13 '11 at 23:24
Thanks Alex... headed there now :) – Sean Earp Apr 14 '11 at 5:15

12 Answers 12

up vote 89 down vote accepted

To employers, they can be beneficial as they may need more certified people in order to maintain their Gold Partner status within specific competencies.

As for a personal level, it won't have much clout if you don't have the work experience behind it, but if it's all you have (ie: little or no experience) then it can show employers you are keen and passionate for the platform, and will appeal to employers looking to hire a junior.

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Yep.. Well said!! – Muhammedh Aug 21 '14 at 6:09

To be honest; certifications have never made me get a job or a new client. But it sure helps your partner status for your company, as djeeg explains. The best way to show off your skills is well documented cases and references!

Currently the certifications are quite easy to get through, with a high score, even if you're not that experienced. One good thing though, is that questions on topics that you're not that familiar with will pop up - and if you're smart you digest that and learn those areas.

Having the certifications listed on your CV/LinkedIn account will also give you masses of recruiter e-mails :-)

Regarding the SharePoint Microsoft Certified Master, which is a 3 week training and a couple of exams/labs. That's a totally different deal. It costs you tons of money and gives you the best SharePoint training you can get. You can't expect to do the MCM with mediocre skills - you already need to be a really highly skilled dev/it-pro/architect. unfortunately - clients are currently not that aware of this certification. So consider it very carefully, so it's really worth it.

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Am I right in thinking that Microsoft shovels you lots of (referred and with a high rate) work if you're MCM? – James Love Apr 10 '11 at 15:53
Don't know about that. Perhaps a current MCM can elaborate on this? – Wictor Wilen MCA MCM MVP Apr 10 '11 at 16:04
There's an interview with Mirjam Van Olst on the SharePoint podshow if you want to find out about it. I think the user going by SPDoctor has done the course also… – Neil Richards Apr 10 '11 at 18:30
No, you get nothing from Microsoft as an MCM in terms of leads or recommendations... Unless you work for Microsoft - most MCMs do. If you get MCM you are pretty much on your own to make it worth your while :) – Chris Beckett Apr 11 '11 at 5:44
@Wictor are you now able to answer your own question? 😜 – Ashley Steel Feb 1 at 0:51

Having certifications is now more valuable, as at the end of last year Microsft changed the rules for partners.

One big change, means employees can no longer be used for two fields:

Probably the biggest point that isn’t always well understood, besides getting used to the fact that the old “levels” no longer apply, is that the new Gold competencies will require 4 unique MCPs. This means if you want to have 2 Gold competencies, you will need at least 8 MCPs (4 each with the appropriate certs for the respective competencies) – this is a major change as you likely know. You cannot “double book” MCPs on multiple Gold competencies.

So it makes you more valuable if you have certs the company needs. Here is the stream for SharePoint:

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Speaking from experience as an IT consultant, yes they are worthwhile.

Your consulting organization (or yourself?) gets points towards being a Microsoft Partner (or even Microsoft Gold Partner) which gets them all sorts of free Microsoft goodies, so there's an incentive for certification right there.

Also, they're cheap! So why not?

Exam: $125 (less with vouchers) Books: $50-$100 (your chosen method of study may vary) Trial Editions of Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 and SharePoint 2010: Zero (though I hope you have adequate hardware for a least a barebones Windows/SharePoint 2010 install)

Other than that, notwithstanding work experience, how else are you going to tell employers you know SharePoint?

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Note that the exam fee is now $150 US as of the middle to end of 2011. – shufler Nov 28 '11 at 23:49

My past employer was a Gold Partner, and as a result, they needed a certain number of points from certified people (MCP counted as 1, MCPD counted as 3, I think the MCM was 8). The new program requires 2 or 4 certified people per competency, and each competency lists what certifications are required.

A quick glance at the partner site this afternoon (note: the stuff changes about every quarter and can be very confusing) shows a number of Sharepoint certifications required for the Content Management competency. If you want the silver competency, you'll need 2 people who have passed any Sharepoint exam. The list is a bit stricter for the gold competency.

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I have never seen a case where they were not valuable. I guess it depends on what your objectives are. If you are a consultant, speaker, author, or job-seeker, certifications add credibility. In addition to being required for the partner competencies that some of the others mentioned, certifications are also required to be a SharePoint Deployment Planning Services partner. And if none of that is important to you, then you will still learn by going through the process.

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If you don't already have deep knowledge then I think the exercise of studying for the exams is worthwhile, provided its studying the topics and not just studying the practice exams. You won't get anywhere near 100% SharePoint knowledge but you'll be better off than before.. Of course this depends on the depth of your experience to date, the more you have, the less helpful the certification will be in broadening your knowledge.

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While it's definitely worth something personally for you, since it improves your marketability as a developer/IT professional, most of the emphasis in Microsoft SharePoint Certification and Microsoft's certification program in general is geared towards the the IT and software companies.

The process is simple, as I'll demonstrate in an example of this SharePoint certified company:

  1. You apply for a job at the company, and they hire you because of your skills, but also because of the advantage you have for them by being certified (explained later).
  2. They acquire more certified developers, pass all sorts of examinations, and because they meet the quota for employed MS-certified professionals, they're awarded the Gold Partner status.
  3. Their newly acquired status gives them access to all sorts of direct benefits, among them free MS licenses and MSDN subscriptions.
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As ever in IT, experience is most valuable, along with your attitude and approach to problem solving. However, these certifications will show potential employers that you have the professionalism and discipline required to study and pass exams, as well as the associated knowledge.

If you're happy in your current job, I would put more time in to gaining experience by building solutions that solve problems.

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Certifications will definitely improve your credibility and shows your employer that you are serious about your career in SharePoint. Some companies are also willing to sponsor for your exams and sometimes it mutual that the company also benefits from it. My previous employer used to give me $500 if I pass SharePoint certification :). It's a win-win.

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My feedback is it's always better to have certifications as part of your profile. It will help both you and your company for winning new business. There are lot of customers who ask for certified people before awarding the project.

It is also fun to take a certification (not going through a bump) because it will check your strength on how you can pick the right solution without the help of Google. :)

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When looking for work Certifications can open opportunities. As a contractor, certifications were helpful to my landing the job, and in some cases I was able to earn them after joining the team.

Studying for a certification won't hurt you provided you are actually studying the course objectives and not the brain dumps that are out there. Memorizing answers to exam questions will not help you at all in becoming competent, obviously. There are no shortcuts to competency. That will come with experience applying what you learn in a variety of situations.

I always encourage people to pursue certification because, at the very least, it will structure your study of SharePoint which, as we know, covers alot of territory!

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