Because few IT professionals have unlimited amounts of time, effort, or money to invest in earning a certification, it is important that they choose the certification path with the most return for their investment. To aid IT professionals as they consider which path to follow, we recently asked TechRepublic members for their opinions on the value of Microsoft certification. Over 2,000 individuals responded to our survey, and the results were clear. A majority of respondents agreed that Microsoft certification is worth the investment.

MCP is most widely held Microsoft certification
To get a clear picture of the most popular and widely held Microsoft certification, we asked respondents to identify which certifications they hold. Thirty-eight percent of respondents reported having an MCP certification, followed by MCSEs at 28 percent, and those possessing MCP + Internet certificates next at 16 percent. Figure A provides a breakdown of certification by category.

Figure A
MCP is by far the most widely held Microsoft certification.

According to Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine Online, there are over 1,100,000 Microsoft certified individuals as of Oct. 2, 2000. MCPs make up 50 percent of this number, followed by MCSEs at 28 percent, those with an MCP + Internet certificate at 18 percent, and all other certifications making up the remaining 4 percent.
Benefits from Microsoft certification are real
For any certification process to be recognized and sought after, there must exist some tangible benefits that obtaining the certification can provide. To examine this in greater detail, respondents were asked to report which benefits they have realized as a result of earning a Microsoft certification. No single benefit stood out, with nearly equal percentages of respondents reporting increased work responsibilities, greater respect among IT professionals, more opportunity for professional advancement, and a higher base salary as benefits they’ve realized (see Figure B).

Figure B
TechRepublic members are realizing tangible benefits from being Microsoft certified.

A majority of respondents also believed that Microsoft certification skills are in demand with employers and have helped them advance in their careers (see Figure C).

Figure C
Microsoft certification was reported to be a career boost.

Microsoft certification has a high return on investment
So do our respondents believe these benefits outweigh the significant investment of resources required to obtain Microsoft certification? The answer is a definite “yes.” As shown in Figure D, 71 percent of respondents feel Microsoft certification was worth the time and effort. Sixty percent of respondents also believe Microsoft certification is worth the expense.

Figure D
Microsoft certification is definitely worth the time, effort, and expense.

In the end
The technology industry’s ever-changing nature requires that successful support professionals keep their knowledge and skills current. I don’t know of any IT professionals who would argue this point. However, when you ask the same individuals for their opinion on the best method of maintaining IT support proficiency, the answers will vary significantly. Some support professionals swear by Novell’s CNA and CNE certifications, some prefer CompTIA’s A+ process, and others favor Microsoft’s certification. For most techs, time, effort, and expense will be significant factors when deciding which certification path to follow. It is also essential that some tangible reward be tied to the attainment of that certification. Clearly, from the results presented here, many IT support professionals believe that Microsoft certification does have a positive return on investment.
What do you think of these survey results? Do you find information like this helpful when making career or training decisions? What information do you find most helpful in choosing training material? Let us know what you think. Post a comment or send us a note.