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Will obtaining an MCSE make me more marketable?

I've been in the field of server administration close to 10 years. I don't have any certifications. I have never had problems finding work until now. Being that the market has severely changed, do you think obtaining an MCSE will make me more marketable? There are numerous MCSEs still looking for work. The problem I see is that there are so many people out there thinking that if they obtain a certification they will automatically receive big $$$. That was true in the 1990's when the market was hot. Is certification even necessary? There are a lot of ex-chefs, ex-nurses, ex-teachers, ex-sales persons that have their MCSE. What is the incentive of obtaining a certification?

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In any market, but particularly in today's market, meaningful significant job experience is worth more than certification, if you must choose between one and the other. Since you already have 10 years of experience, the marginal value of adding a certification -- especially a common certification like the MCSE (as of May 31, 2002, there were 470,906 MCSEs certified, according to www.mcpmag.com) -- is pretty limited.

Frankly, the CompTIA Server+ is probably worth more; advanced vendor certs like those from Compaq(HP) and IBM(netfinity) are definitely worth more (but they do, alas, often require MCSE or something similar as a prerequisite). Let your job goals determine your certification needs. If you already know your way around the Microsoft Server world and can talk in detail about what you know and can do, an MCSE is probably not needed in your case. What you need is a job, and finding one will depend on networking your friends, family and business associates to find the best jobs of all, which are seldom, if ever, advertised to the public.

Good luck,
--Ed--

This was first published in September 2002

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