At the beginning of 2002, Microsoft raised the cost of its certification tests from $100 to $125.

This 25 percent bump hasn’t been well received by many IT professionals. More than three-quarters of those who took a recent poll at TechRepublic said a price increase was not justified (see Figure A).

Yet 12 percent say the cost of the increase is necessary to maintain the quality of Microsoft’s testing program.

TechRepublic columnist Erik Eckel says that although the 25 percent increase is significant, “It’s certainly not a deal killer, especially considering the value of an IT certification.”

Figure A
Most say Microsoft is money-grubbing by raising the cost of certification tests.

Don’t complain to the testing centers, Eckel wrote in his column “Watch out: Certification fees are on the rise.” The testing centers offer the tests as a service to their training customers, and sources at a few of those centers said they aren’t getting any part of Microsoft’s fee increase.

Microsoft says it needs to increase the price
For Microsoft’s part, a spokesman said that the price was due a look after years without being changed.

The $100 per test price has been the same since the Microsoft Certified Professional program’s inception in 1992, the spokesman said.

“To establish exam prices worldwide, Microsoft evaluates a number of factors, including our costs to develop and deliver exams, competitors’ pricing, changes in currency exchange rates, and inflation.

“The new exam prices ensure that Microsoft is able to continue offering consistent exam delivery services worldwide. We believe the price adjustments reflect the value of Microsoft certification and are competitive in the marketplace,” he said.

Exam prices for CompTIA and Cisco tests have also increased.

While some argue that the value of Microsoft’s tests isn’t rising proportionally to the cost, not everyone feels this way.

“A person with experience and a certification is worth their weight in gold. Plus they show that they still have the drive to learn and expand their knowledge,” wrote Dahart.

“I, personally, have over five years’ experience and I find that I have a deeper understanding about a product that I cover as part of studying for a certification. It is certainly one way of keeping your skills up to date once you have experience.”

Many aren’t buying it
Microsoft finds some harsh critics of its test prices in the response to Eckel’s column.

“Microsoft reminds me of the greedy little kid with candy. The more he gets, the more he wants,” writes JimHM.

Would people understand and say nothing if gasoline, cable TV, or Internet service costs jumped 25 percent? “No, they would be screaming from the highest mountain,” he writes.

Bwatt agrees with JimHM.

“Certification is a moneymaking machine for Microsoft; hence, they are constantly retiring certs and rolling new ones out,” he writes. “I like the new philosophy of allowing the cert to stand once it has been retired, but feel that I won’t be getting too many Microsoft certs myself.”

Limiting the number of Microsoft certifications they will seek is just one response that was noted in the discussion.

People are getting jaded by Microsoft’s certification philosophy, writes Solveit, who thinks people may start jumping to other certification programs.

“That may not sound important, but if a certified network manager moves to Linux or Novell certification, you may just see his or her network converted to Linux or Novell in a very short time,” Solveit writes. “We don’t just jump to another certification program; we jump to another operating system.”

A similar thought comes from India, where Vkri writes that the cost of the increase makes going for advanced certifications difficult when added together.

Vkri compares the cost of Microsoft certifications to Cisco’s CCNA and Sun Solaris Administrator certifications, both of which he says are less expensive.

“So this pricing will surely reduce the number of MCSEs from India, whereas CCNA and Sun Certification numbers will increase,” Vkri writes. “I feel by this stand, Microsoft is promoting Sun Certification. Microsoft: Hope you will read this.”

Is $25 too much to raise test costs?

Is the increase in Microsoft tests a blip on the big screen, or is it the straw that breaks the camel’s back? Does Microsoft make a good case for raising test prices from $100 to $125? Join the debate below and tell us what you think!