Microsoft and Other Certifications
By Richard Rost
Every now and then I get a customer who asks me about certifications. "Do you offer any certification exams, tests, or prep courses?" "Are certifications important?" etc.
Let me start out by saying this: if you are looking to learn how to use a piece of software because you want to use it for your own purposes, then no, certifications are not important. For example, if you own a small business, or you work in a company where you need to use Access or Excel, then you do not need a certification.
On the other hand, if you're looking to get a job and the employer wants to see a certification (especially large corporations) then you might benefit from a certification. Employers use certifications as the first line of screening to make sure you have a fundamental working knowledge of the program in question.
Personally, I think that certifications are not that important. As a former employer, I interviewed people who had certifications in different topics (Windows, Office, etc.) but when it came down to practical knowledge, they didn't know anywhere near as much as someone who just simply used and studied the product for a few years, and had some hands-on experience.
Me? I don't have any certifications, and I consider myself to be pretty knowledgeable when comes to Microsoft Access, Excel, Word, Visual Basic, Windows, etc. I have learned from working with the software, reading books, and practical, hands-on experience. I wish I had my own video tutorials to learn from when I was starting out!
Anyhow... there are plenty of test prep courses out there that will teach you what you need to know to pass the certification exams, but that's all they're good for... passing the exam. If you really need that piece of paper, then go for it. If, on the other hand, you're interested in really learning the software, then I would suggest (a) my tutorials, (b) a good book or two on the subject, and (c) lots of hands-on experience.
No, I don't have any test-prep courses available. I'm not interested in teaching people just how to pass an exam. I want you to learn the software, not just study for a test.
Most certification test-prep courses that I've seen are like cramming for exams in high school. You're going to remember the material just long enough to pass the exam, and then you'll forget it. What good is that?
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