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It may seem like a silly question, but it's important at least for me and I'm interesting to hear from you. I'm a .NET developer 4 years ago, even before I went to university, I'm currently earning an MCTS in web development, and some of them told me that it's invaluable for my position, I'm not and wouldn't be an IT student anyway, just because I believe that in IT field, knowledge could be gained from experience and self-teaching (via books and videos) , I know lot of IT students (in my region at least) fight just for the sake of having a degree and to get a job, no more...

I'm currently looking forward to complete my path in MS Certifications and hold the MCPD, is it really that you should be an IT guy in order to be certified? does it make sense for you that non IT students never need those certifications?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by gnat, MichaelT, Bart van Ingen Schenau, GlenH7, Dynamic Nov 29 '13 at 4:51

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

4 Answers 4

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Try to get as much exprience as possible and then have certification too.

What Certification will do: Certification will help you in considering for interview and also creates interest in you for employer. So, certification will take you to the employer but exprience will save you in your job and never let your employer down.

Exprience will help in getting certified: Getting Microsoft Certification is not an easy job until you have good exprience. I have Microsoft Certifications too and in my exprience Microsoft Certification question are really based to you exprience and check if you really gave it a try.

Same guy here: I am like you who don't have degree. I left my studies in the middle even not completed high school. I had certification but not expriences, I was called for interview but did not succeeded. Later I started doing freelancing job but never realized that it is a another type of business in which you are the boss, but now I realize. So you need to act like a business owner and remember running business does not require qualification to prove yourself.

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Decent answer :) –  Islam Ibrahim Jul 9 '11 at 10:36

First: it's really encouraging to see people like you. In my class I have people who decided to go to an IT school because they were gaming a lot (it's not university, though, it's called technikum here).

Well, certificate is just a paper. Of course it does matter to employer (you have bigger chances of getting invited to the interview). However, I think that experience matters more. Certificates get outdated really fast (a year in IT is like 10 years in mechanics), but experience means that you're really good and you keep learning things (not just for one exam).

Of course it depends on employer. One wouldn't even want to hear about people without proper education working for them, and that maybe the situation when the certificate could come in handy. But I guess you wouldn't work for that kind of employer either.

I guess that's really up to you. But I would discourage doing a certificate instead of getting experience.

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I think upgrading certifications is the best bet. Thanks. –  Islam Ibrahim Jul 9 '11 at 10:37

You're totally right that experience is worth more than a paper from some university, or at least it should be. The only time that paper from university will help is when people get right out of school and need to land a job. Once you have several years of experience, there's no difference in having that paper.

Microsoft Certification as a .NET developer can be useful to prove your knowledge to clients or to land a job. If there are several similar profiles available, they will more likely pick the one with certificates. But only go after them as a "side effect" of doing your job. You can spend a few days to prepare for them, like to refresh some details. But you shouldn't study a month full time for it and neglect your job.

In the end it's the real experience that counts, not a paper (from university or Microsoft). And no, you don't have to be an IT student to get certified.

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Certification gives you the tools

A certificate ratifies that you have achieved competence in knowing your tools.

A lot of people get confused about the difference between having the tools to do the job (certified) and the ability to use the tools effectively do the job.

The latter requires experience.

Experience gives you the ability to use those tools

The two concepts go hand in hand, and this will ring true of degrees as well (C.S., Soft Eng, etc). The degree/certification gives you the tools to become a developer.

However there is SO much more to being a professional developer than can be taught at university or in a certification. The best they can achieve is to ensure they've given you the tools to do the job.

Certification or a degree is not necessary to be a great developer

I personally know several great senior developers who never completed university and don't have any certifications. However picked up equivalent or better skills in the field, always learning and applying their knowledge.

The antithesis to this is that the above statement is very rare. It takes a determined individual to become great without first being given the tools do do the job.

Employers will look hard at anyone without qualifications and realise that they'll be taking a risk to employ that candidate.

Job Interviews

Employers often don't understand that a degree in C.S. / Soft Eng, or a certificate doesn't instantly make a candidate a master in their field. And a lot of times a candidate will get hired for thier degree / certificate alone and placed in a senior position which quickly turns sour.

The employers that do understand this, will be trying to determine your ability to gain from experience.

  • How well can this candidate use the tools that he/she has been given?
  • How quickly can they pick up new tools?

Benefits to being Microsoft Certified

A secondary benefit to being microsoft certified (especially to businessess) is the Microsoft Silver/Gold partnership.

Microsoft Partner Website

In very real terms a lot of businesses gain a direct benefit to having one or more Microsoft Certified Developers which can provide cheaper and even free development tools directly from microsoft. Which is a huge cost savings.

And so there's another incentive to achieve a Microsoft Certification, businesses need to keep a certain number of staff on hand with the correct qualification to maintain their partnership status.

Often busineses will only be looking for candidates who have a certification, so theres a second opportunity to get your foot in the door for an interview.


The best advice that I can give is that gaining experience is worth more in real development terms than achieving a certificate with no experience.

Gaining a certificate after a few years of experience is best, and if you're serious about making a career as a software developer (finish your degree as well). You may find that you will hit a wall when you start going for Mid to Senior level positions (employers wont take the risk to employ a candidate without a degree).

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