“Microsoft Certification can take you from the start of your career to its pinnacle. Certification can increase your visibility, differentiate you from your peers, and bring you recognition for your knowledge and skills.”

– Microsoft

At the risk of sounding cliche, you shouldn’t be saying, “why should I become certified with Microsoft?” but instead, “Why shouldn’t I become certified with Microsoft?

This is a legitimate question, as there are certainly some scenarios where you wouldn’t want to become Microsoft certified. For example, if you are choosing a career path with the “darkside” (please no hate mail network admins!) then there are far more useful and obvious certification paths such as Cisco’s CCNA . However, if you are planning on joining the “lightside” and become a server administrator or working with infrastructure, Microsoft certifications are the industry standard and hold a boatload of weight with employers. All joking aside, I look at Networking and Server Infrastructure as opposite sides of the spectrum that are dependent on each other. Both are great career paths. Determining between the two industry powerhouses, Microsoft and Cisco, really just depends on what you enjoy the most.

Certifications, Education or Experience?

Ideally, you should have all three. Unfortunately, this is something you will have to work towards. James Conrad from CBTNuggets explains in the video below that it was not unusual to have zero (formal) IT education and still be a professional in the IT field.

In the last 5 years there has been a slight paradigm shift. Colleges and Universities have taken great strides to improve their technical programs and enrollment numbers. Subsequently, some employers are starting to recognize degrees as an extremely important requirement for jobs.

As Microsoft states in the quote on the top of this page, certifications set you apart from your peers. As degrees and diplomas become the norm, the more credentials and certifications become the force that raise you above the rest of the pack. I cannot stress this enough.
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Easier to get a Job

I know I touched on this a little bit in the previous section, but it deserves to be said again. Certifications will help you get a job (although you shouldn’t expect to walk into one either). As a new graduate, additional certifications will separate you from your peers. Furthermore, Microsoft certifications verify competency in a much more specific IT path than degrees or diplomas.

If you are already in the field, being certified shows you are keeping up to date with your technical ability. It proves you are driven, dedicated and willing to improve your knowledge. It is a great way for employers to separate the hard working IT professionals from the “coasters”.

Increase your Worth

Whats one of the best reasons to get certified?. More MULLAH! Below you will find pay information from payscale.com. You can see there is a significant increase of average pay after being MCSE certified. However, that doesn’t mean your employer will magically pay you $15,000 more just because you ran out and got some credentials. So please don’t march into your boss’s office and demand a kings ransom! This data signifies that high paying companies prefer to hire professionals who are certified. See below.
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Average Industry Salary with No Certifications

IT Manager - $77000
Systems Administrator - $61000
Systems Analyst - $63000
Information Security Analyst - $69000
Database Administrator - $67000
Network Administrator - $55000

Average Industry Salary with MCSE Certifications

IT Manager - $79000
Systems Administrator - $76000
Systems Analyst - $83000
Information Security Analyst - $87000
Database Administrator - $79000
Network Administrator - $74000

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Gain Confidence and Knowledge

There was a point where I felt like I was in a complete rut with my job. A few years ago I was questioning whether I was still enjoying being a Server Admin. I would go in for the 9-5 grind and couldn’t wait to get the hell out. This funk was largely due to the fact that I had let my skill-set become stale. I’m not saying that certifications directly rekindled my passion for servers or single handily increased my confidence. However, the entire lifestyle of continuous learning did. Its no secret that our field of work is rapidly changing and therefor our skill-set is too. My rule of thumb is that you should ALWAYS be working towards some sort of certification or goal. Keep your mind and career moving forward.

Sweet Credentials

MCSE, MCTIP, and MCSA look pretty badass beside your email sig, on your business card or hanging on your wall. Enough said.

Count Towards College Credits

In the United states, Microsoft is offering an initiative where MCP certificates will count towards certain college credits. Check out the link from BorntoLearn for more information.