Are Azure Certifications Valuable?

It has been years since I stopped taking certification exams and lately I decided to get back to that adventure. In September 2020 I passed exams to be recognised as Microsoft Certified Azure Solutions Architect Expert.

Arian Celina - Certified Azure Solutions Architect Expert

Before and after passing the exam, I asked myself the question which I have seen many people ask as well; Are Azure Certifications valuable? I believe the question is applicable not only for Azure Certifications, but in general for any industry certification. Are they valued by the community and employers? Do they make a difference in your career? I have also written about this topic in the past, and yet it seems the same questions are still coming up. Let me share my updated opinion with you.

From the motivational perspective, it is very important to clarify the answer to those questions so we know why we are putting all that effort to learn and prepare for the exams. I also think these questions should be rephrased with a reversed perspective. Before we modify question, let us first discuss about the value itself.

What is the value and who defines it? Who can tell if a certification is valuable? I think think there is no single source of truth for that. From experience, I have encountered employers and peers who value a certified professional more than someone who is not certified. I have also seen opposite. As someone who have interviewed more than 100 candidates so far, I can say both can be right and wrong.

I have met certified candidates who have not been able to defend their title with knowledge. So I have met people who were not certified on a topic but were more knowledgeable than their certified peers. I have also met certified people who were subject matter experts and knew their topic in detail, kind of detail that we do not easily learn by randomly playing with the technology.

When I reflect on my late Azure certification journey but also on my previous certifications for .NET and Java, what I remember is that while preparing for the exams I have often learned hidden details about the topics which I have not encountered during the daily work. Those hidden details then later have quite often have saved me time or effort and enabled me to bring better solutions into life. This in itself is a value for me.

Considering this, the revised question I think we need to ask ourselves would be:

What do we gain from this certification?


In my opinion, we should not get certified so other people value us more because we hold that title. We should do certifications to learn better the technology we like. Of course one can do that without taking the exams and without getting certified. It’s just that taking the exams pushes you to follow a certain curricula which is reviewed by experts and that often gives more structure to the learning.

I have been using Azure for years and have quite some experience deploying and running web applications on various forms of workloads, containerised and non-containerised. Yet, when I took the late exams for Azure Cloud Solutions Architect Expert certification, I learned a lot about some not so familiar topics to me, like migrations of Virtual Machines from on-premise datacenter to Azure, about backing up Virtual Machines, or about Express Routes. Taking those exams pushed me to learn more about those topics which probably I would not in my daily work.

As a conclusion, in my opinion industry certifications are valuable as they push us to get better at that topic and this inherently will make us a more valuable contributor to our team, company and community. When we do that, whether the certification is valued by our potential future employers plays a smaller role in answering this question.

Do you need to take developer certifications

Software development industry is one of the fastest progressing industries. New technologies, amazingly fast changing businesses, and advancement of requirements make learning a daily task of software developers. In a way, when we choose this profession, we kind of agree to lifelong learning, but there comes the question:

“Do you need to take developer certifications?”.

Personally, I like developer certifications. You can see from my profile, I have taken 9 different industry certifications, mostly for Microsoft technologies. The biggest value I see in taking certifications is learning the details of some technologies. As the saying goes “The devil is hidden in the details”, I like learning some technologies in deep details. I do not claim that I do remember all those details from all the certifications I have gone through, but from the experience, I have had some “aha moments” when some of those details have spared me lots of time. Certifications have also helped me to establish my knowledge and credentials as knowledgeable person in those technologies and help me teach those technologies in various courses.

The effect of certifications on your career

I have read in many articles that certifications help you find a better job. I would not argue that you can look better or more prestigious with all those certifications but personally, I have not seen any case that certifications have been the ultimate factor for hiring someone. Perhaps I’m short of that kind of experience, but I put myself in the shoes of a hiring person, if I’d be choosing someone to hire, the certifications surely would be a benefit or a value added for the candidate, but not an important factor for my decision. The important factor is the knowledge one has, and industry certifications can only be a plus.

The effect of certifications on your professional development

If you have taken and passed an industry certification, most probably you have followed a learning plan to learn all the objectives tested in the exam, and that has pushed you to have some good understanding of that specific technology. Moreover, you have seen the latest developments in that technology and have become familiar with what is required to follow on further developments.

Development technologies advance every day, and if you follow the cutting edge technologies, this is an indications that you are also a productive developer as new technologies most of the time make the development process easier and faster. I have not seen a better illustration of this than this picture

are you too busy to improve

The effect of certifications on your personal brand

Branding is not something exclusive to corporates. We all have our brand, your name is a brand, and you should work to make it better and better. Taking certifications will have a positive impact on establishing a firm expertise in your industry and showing how seriously you take your career and personal development. Certifying your knowledge will have an added value towards the development of your personal brand as an industry expert.

Conclusions

As I stated from the beginning of this post, I am very much into certifications, not from the marketing benefits I get from them, but from the learning and self development benefits I get from the process of preparing to take the exams. Personally, I have had a lot of benefits from the knowledge I have gained during that process, therefore I would recommend taking industry certification exams to anyone who wants to advance in software development career.

Microsoft Certifications: Web development path

Microsoft Corporation offers a rich set of possibilities when it comes to education of new and existing software developers. Taking certification exams and certifying your knowledge is one of the best ways to build a solid knowledge base, improve your skills, and get ahead with your career in software development. In this post I will describe what it takes to follow Microsoft Certifications: Web development path.

In this wide range of certifications, where does one start from? Well, it depends on your current skills and work experience. If you are new to software development with less then one year of work experience or so, then my suggestion is you start with Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certifications.

You may start with  following MTA exams:

Software Development Fundamentals (Exam: 98-361)
Web Development Fundamentals (Exam: 98-363).
.NET Fundamentals (Exam: 98-372)
HTML5 App Development Fundamentals (Exam: 98-375)

For the complete list of MTA certifications please see MTA Certifications web page.

MTA certications are optional and are useful only if you do not have work experience developing these solutions.

What after that? The next part of the path is of professional certifications. The web development path leads to Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer: Web applications (MCSD). This title is awarded to anyone who passes these exams:

Programming in HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS3 (Exam: 70-480)
Developing ASP.NET MVC Web Applications (Exam: 70-486)
Developing Microsoft Azure and Web Services (Exam: 70-487)

When you complete all of these exams, you will get the title of MCSD: Web Applications which will certify your knowledge in the field of developing web applications using HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, and ASP.NET MVC.

Certification 70-486: Developing ASP.NET MVC 4 Web Applications

Last week, I took the exam for Microsoft Certification 70-486: Developing ASP.NET MVC 4 Web Applications and passed successfully and scored 831. This was my first exam after almost two years. Although, the exam format and questions’ style did not differ, I certainly noticed some differences.

The number of questions were 45, and the questions were spread in proportion:

22 general questions
23 questions in 3 different scenarios

The test included 3 different scenarios to analyze, and it required a good amount of time to spend on reading code and business requirements of the scenarios in order to be able to answer the questions. Although the scenarios were quite different, it was very easy to mix the requirements, so a good focus had to be put to remember the requirements of each scenario.

The questions were practical, but not easy. They were focused on details of specific features. I was introduced with good amount of questions regarding session management, especially in distributed environments, security implementation, debugging, azure deployment, and related to controller implementation.

To anyone who is preparing to take the exam, my recommendation is to put a focus on the topics above mentioned.

I hope this helps.

Programming in HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS3 – 70-480 Microsoft Certification

Programming in HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS3 (70-480) certification, is the entry point towards the new line of Microsoft Certified Solution Developer Web applications certification. Currently, there is a special offer for this exam, and it is offered for free. The voucher can be taken from here. This special offer also includes video training for this exam from Microsoft Virtual Academy.

The exam is prepared to test your knowledge on topics related to HTML5 (semantic structures, new HTML5 elements, data validation, etc.), CSS3 (selectors, layout management, box properties, animation, etc.), and JavaScript (DOM manipulation, events, exception handling, callbacks, etc.). Details about skills measured can be found on this link.

The knowledge gained from this training, can be used to develop web applications as well as Window Store apps.

What are you waiting for… Get certified 🙂