Getting SharePoint 2010 Certified

Well I finally got round to doing some SharePoint 2010 certifications, namely;

Exam 70-573: TS: Microsoft SharePoint 2010, Application Development

Exam 70-576: PRO: Designing and Developing Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Applications

and by passing them both, gained my MCPD: SharePoint Developer 2010.

But Jamie (I hear you say), those exams were released nearly two years ago. Why have you only just done the certifications? Answer; Glad you asked me that, that's what this blog post is about! :)

I had a few ASP.NET and SQL Server certs from way back. When I got into SharePoint full time about five years ago I looked at the certs but had a bit of a downer on the high degree (as I perceived it) of BCS questions in the assessment. BCS didn't seem ready for Prime Time, and I formed the perhaps unfair opinion that Microsoft Marketing Dept had more to do with setting the exam syllabus than us Solutions Folk. So, I left those exams to it.

During 2011 I had to interview a lot of people to fill SharePoint Dev and Architect positions in an offshore office my then employer had set up. One thing I noticed was that the candidates that had certifications interviewed a little better [on average]. There are some best practises e.g. when to dispose an SPSite instance that the certified folks were mentioning, and the non-certified candidates often weren't. There were plenty of candidates that had the certifications and not enough experience, but they were easily discovered by further questioning. I took comfort in the fact that basic best practises and approaches were in the heads of the certified folk, so even where a candidate had limited experience, we had some SharePoint knowledge to work with. A small number of the certified candidates didn't seem to know much at all, which one might put down to using braindumps to pass the exam.

With this experience my opinion on certifications softened a little. Certainly having certs alone isn't a hiring criteria, but it's a consideration.

On the subject of employment, for a period I freelanced and did notice that government related contracts had a tendency to ask that candidates had Microsoft certifications as a condition of applying for the role. This represented a subset of the main jobs market, but was a trend worth keeping an eye on in such economic times!

So, I took a look at my own profile. I have a heap of SharePoint community contributions such as public speaking at SharePoint end user events, participation in writing of free SharePoint utilities, a few hundred answers on the MSDN and Experts-Exchange forums, and my somewhat occasional blog posts. Reading my CV like a recruiter would, those things are unlikely to add up to much more than a "hill o' beans" even if they bothered scanning the text to that point. I'll admit you could flatter the word searches they do by putting the phrase "couldn't be bothered becoming Microsoft Certified"... but people do end up reading the CVs the word search highlight, so it might not be the best approach! :D

Finally, I increasingly find myself teaching SharePoint classes to clients between other assignments. I'm pushing to get Microsoft Certified Trainer to teach the fully fledged official MS courses, and as such I need MS certifications in the technology I want to teach.

In the end then future employabilty, a desire to demonstrate I know something about SharePoint in a generally recognised way, and a desire to teach MS courses led me to the exam room.

In terms of preparation, I'm afraid to say I didn't do much. The best resource I found was by Becky Bertram here; 70573 Study Guide/AllItems.aspx

I must say however that having worked a umpteen real SharePoint projects seems to have furnished me with what I needed to know, except a little cramming on some of the dark server technologies that really aren't my area! The only thing I did do was buy a practise exam, just to get used to doing multiple choice tests again! Odd to say, but you have to think a certain way with multiple choice in terms of disgarding the daft answers immediately and going into the remaining options with more concentration. I benefited from a little practise as the times when I did exams on a regular basis are history.

With a big sigh of relief I passed the exams, and they showed up on my MCP transcript online somewhere. I can forget about that particular process now until SharePoint 15, (or if I want to branch into teaching the Administration courses I'll need another cert). Overall the experience was a positive one, and perhaps my reasons for finally taking the plunge will match your own.

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