Monday, March 8, 2010

IT certifications

Now that I have just wrapped up 640, 642 and 646 exams for MCIPT 2008 Server Administrator, I have to say that once again I am disappointed in the whole certification process. The continued static nature of the test questions and the ready availability of question and answer dumps keeps the tests (and certs) worthless. Also the material from each OS generation NT4->2000->2003->2008 primarily focuses on what is new in the latest version and no so much what is needed to be a good overall Microsoft support person. Newer IT workers may be able to go for training and get certified in 2008, but their lower level knowledge is going to be very lacking. One example to check this is ask someone that is new to the field how to create a remote admin session to a non-domain joined workstation using that workstation's local administrator account to allow for management by command line and by GUI tools....not including Remote Desktop.

The move to make the tests more lab based seems to be a way to get around some problems, or at least allows people to demonstrate skills in a more hands on approach, but this also falls short. The labs are incredibly slow, to the point that it is very helpful if you know enough command line commands to do as much as possible outside of GUI's, including launching GUI windows with command line instead of spending a minute to scroll through the windows. These lab exams are perhaps even easier to get by without real knowledge as all the labs are known, publicly posted, and have youtube how-to video's available for each one.

I understand that having a proper hands on lab test is much more difficult and expensive, but this is one of the few true tests of knowledge. Although they are harder to grade, you can still do a lot of remote management in faster ways than through the prometric test integrated virtual machines. This can still allow of easy proctor site setups that don't require on-site graders.

I hope companies will begin to realize the waste of time and money on certification based training and the usefulness of the exams as a measure of skills and employability.

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