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I just got a salary negotiation this morning (I passed three interviews last 3 weeks), and it was like a game. I was stubborn with my expectation, or that number, or I leave. OK, to be honest, it's not about money, but I, a not-very-experienced developer, want to see how much the employer pays me, and it was fun.

And at last, my employer gave me this: "OK, * $, but with two conditions, first, you get your spoken skill improved (English is not my native), and second, you got MCPs before the end of the year". He asked me to get 3 MCP certificates. The company will buy any books that necessary to the exam, but I must read them at free time, take and pass the exams . If I not get them, my employer will not kick me out, but, salary discussion will be harder, for me.

I accepted that offer, I thought it's good enough. But I wonder, is it usual? If you're an employer, have you ever given that offer to a candidate? If you're an employee, have you ever got, or will you accept an offer like that?

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What about the costs of the exam itself? It will cost dearly. –  user8685 Apr 26 '11 at 16:07
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3 MCPs till the end of the year you'll need to quit your job and devote 7/24 to the preparation. –  user8685 Apr 26 '11 at 16:08
    
I don't get the number, but it seems that 130-150$/each. My company should pay for it, IMO :)) –  Vimvq1987 Apr 26 '11 at 16:08
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@John Kraft, in the US the exams themselves only cost around $125. The prep courses can cost thousands. My advice is to skip the courses, I don't have a lot of respect for certifications, but they can be useful if you train yourself by actually working with the software. Sitting in a classroom and doing a few exercises, not so much. @Developer Art, back in 1994 I did the seven exams for the MCSE in about six months studying on my own after work. They just weren't that hard, and as far as I can tell they've only gotten a little harder. –  Charles E. Grant Apr 26 '11 at 16:26
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@Charles E. Grant: thanks very much for your comment. Developer Art scared me (j/k), you encouraged me. –  Vimvq1987 Apr 26 '11 at 16:29

8 Answers 8

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Where they count is typically you need a certain number of developers with MS certifications to be a "gold partner" and it helps when you can staple your developers resumes to your proposal and they all have MS certifications of some sort. Note that the people deciding which firm to hire to build stuff rarely can build the stuff themselves so the MS certifications help sell them quite a bit.

So, in short, it has nothing to do with making you a better developer but rather a more saleable asset.

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Yep. My company encourages us developers to get them (on our own dime & time) to keep the Gold rating. doesn't hurt at review time but doesn't really help, either. –  DaveE Apr 26 '11 at 17:38
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@DaveE - that sucks, any company I've ever been involved with at least pays for the books and exam fee itself. –  jmo21 Apr 26 '11 at 17:59
    
@DaveE: That does suck. My company pays for the exams, and not necessarily the books (it's a bit of a gray area right now - new HR people aren't sure what's what yet). –  Steve Evers Apr 26 '11 at 20:12
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Given that they are really for the company, I wouldn't sit without the company paying for them . . . . –  Wyatt Barnett Apr 26 '11 at 20:16

I personally don't value certifications all that much. But for many employers that are not tech savvy, it's their way of seeing you 'improving' and therefore adding further value to justify that pay increase.

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A lot of offshore 'consultants' like them because they can pretend to dumb clients that they have highly qualified staff. There is a list of the easiest ones to get 'certified outlook user' that you can watch out for –  Martin Beckett Apr 26 '11 at 17:02
    
Agreed - it is an easy metric that can be understood by all (including upper management). It's alot easier to justify a salary increase via measurable metrics and not subjective statements like "he's a really good problem solver". I don't believe it is a valid metric - but it's easy. –  Mayo Apr 26 '11 at 17:29
    
getting an MCP certification will certainly increase the breadth of your knowledge. However, it's hard to dispute that a lot of that breadth will be in the form of learning parts of the .NET platform that are seldom used in practice. –  Carson63000 Apr 26 '11 at 20:44

In the U.S., I don't think that Microsoft Certifications are typically weighed at all or used as a gateway for any salary increase or promotion. I've never had an employer discuss them with me in any way.

It may be the case that consulting companies have some use for them, as their potential customers may look to them as a justification for the outrageous rates being charged for consultants, but that's just speculation. The consulting firm that I last worked for -- Magenic -- didn't care much at all about certifications.

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As people pointed "Gold Partner" is the reason consulting companies want people to get them. –  Ramhound Apr 26 '11 at 18:04

If this conversation with your boss was recent, the changes that have occured over the last 6 months with Microsoft Partner program have caused a lot of consulting companies to lose their top-tier partner status in many competencies, because now a single employee can only contribute to 1 Gold Compentency. Combined with most Gold Compentencies requiring 4 MCITP,MCPD level employees, companies wanting to hold several Gold Compentencies need to have a lot of different employees holding the higher-level certifications. I work for a large Microsoft consultancy and even we need a lot of certifications to meet the requirements. I have a stack of the certifications (I don't like them a qualification, but I don't mind taking them as way to judge the right amount of self-study to do for a topic I might not use everyday for work. BTW - I tend to read 2-3 non-Test Prep books on each topic before taking the exam to get a good deal of depth.)

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If they have not asked you for any specific MCP tests, then you can pick the easiest ones (like Windows XP) and probably pass without any studying. For programming tests, my advice is to pick .NET 3.5 exams over .NET 4 exams because the material on the 4.0 exams will be about half of the material on the 3.5 test plus all the new stuff. So the ADO test for 4.0 has a lot of LINQ and Entity Framework (while the 3.5 exam will be about ADO).

One thing to keep in mind is that July 1, the cost of exams will go up.

Student price before 7/1: $60 (and you can get a free retake if you fail before 6/30).
Student price after 7/1: $83.
Non-student price before 7/1: $125.
Non-student price after 7/1: $150.

If you are not in the US, you'll have to check out the prices for other countries on the MS site:
http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/cert-pricing-FAQ.aspx

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If I were asking for certifications for the annual review, I'd take a look at which ones. I'd be distinctly unimpressed by somebody going out in 2011 and getting an XP cert. –  David Thornley Apr 26 '11 at 18:12
    
@David, you could always claim that you were working towards an MCSA or MSCE, as the 270 exam is still one elective for them. The way it was phrased by the OP was "3 MCPs" without any regard for which ones. –  Tangurena Apr 26 '11 at 18:47

I don't think it is unreasonable for your employer to want you to prove that you are worth the money you are asking; especially if you are new and not very experienced. However, it sounds to me more like they are trying to make sure that you do not meet the requirements of the deal. 3 certs in 1 year will be hard to manage. In addition, "improved spoken skill" is way too subjective. I would be wary with that deal.

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He did say that, I can practice (English) more with my teammate, and MCP is something "measurable". IMHO, improving my spoken skill is fair :) –  Vimvq1987 Apr 26 '11 at 16:23
    
@Vim - You clearly have nothing to lose except a few hundred dollars( costs of the exams ) if they are willing to pay for the books. Working on your english skills in a company that appears to speak english should be a priority. –  Ramhound Apr 26 '11 at 18:03

For some jobs it is a precondition. For others, it is a bonus. You don't need the certification for yourself or for your employer but for the client. Your company will charge the client more for certified team members. If you want the company to pay for it ask them to do so but they will impose some condition . Typically if a company pays for certicifcation they will not increase your salary. If they do not pay (and you meet the exam expense on your own) you will (or more truthfully: should ) be compensated by your company.

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In my experience it is not very common, but some employers (particularly MS partners) will be keen. It seems like you have struck a good deal, more $ for passing 3 exams in an area which you (presumably) already work in. I wouldn't worry about other companies, I'd get on and pass the exams and keep the money:-)

I once worked for an MS partner and the rule there was 5 exams in the first year (in order to get MCSD at the time), and I interviewed at another company who had a similar rule. However, I think these 2 were unusual, most places I've worked and most places my friends have worked were not that interested in exams.

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