Recertification survey: Results are in!

Don Field

Microsoft technologies are evolving more quickly than ever. In order to maintain the value of your certifications, we need to ensure that Microsoft certifications keep pace with changing technologies and remain a meaningful indicator of a candidate’s continued competence.

In late July, we invited you to participate in a survey to gather customer and hiring manager feedback about implementing a recertification requirement for advanced level Microsoft certifications. I was very pleased that over 900 of you participated. Respondents included individuals who have work experience on every Microsoft technology area, and individuals holding every type of certification we have ever offered. We also heard from Microsoft Certified Trainers, hiring managers, and even some people who don’t hold any Microsoft certifications at all.

The blog post where we originally invited folks to participate had a fair amount of comment activity—much of it from people opposed to the idea of requiring candidates to demonstrate continued competence. However, the survey results tell quite a different story. I’d like to share some of the high-level results with you:

  • Most respondents (84%) were neutral or positive about requiring candidates to demonstrate continued competence. 65% of respondents were either positive or very positive.
  • The vast majority of respondents (93%) answered that recertification would have either no impact or a positive impact on the value of the program. 75% of respondents felt that it would have a positive or very positive impact.
  • Requiring an individual to pass an exam specific to that certification was rated the most preferred and most relevant activity for demonstrating continued competence.
  • When we asked how often someone should need to recertify, most people recommended between 2 and 3 years.

Quite frankly, some of the results surprised us. We’re now in the process of carefully considering how to incorporate your feedback into the program.

Thanks very much for taking the time to share your opinions with us.

  • Anonymous
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    It’s oblivious that this result is far from the truth. By the way, adding Neutral to Positive feedback is nonsense. Imagine 80% Neutral and 5% Positive. No comments after that. It’s just a soft way to introduce recertify. It’s not Microsoft the problem, it’s Microsoft Learning team. I’m OFF.

  • Anonymous
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    How is it obvious that this doesn't reflect the truth? Have you done your own survey with a larger sample size and seen different results?

    And yes, it looks hinky to add Neutral to Positive. But that's just a way of showing that 84% of people aren't against the idea. They then expand on that to show that 65% (not 5% as you speculate) are actively for it (leaving 19% Neutral, not 80% as you speculate).

  • tylercranston
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    The cost should be considered as well, if the recertification exam cost is the same as a regular prometric exam it might be quite costly for some to recertify.

  • cheong00
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    Btw, IMO Microsoft would be better to take into account the comments in previous blog.

    For example, I'd think recertification is necessary for exams that's not tied to versioned products (such as Azure platform) but  not for those having explicit product version specified (Say, those for SQL 2005. You'll be getting SQL 2008 certs right?) The survey do not contain fine grained question like these.

  • Anonymous
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    As someone who took the survey, it was very difficult to answer "actually, this idea sucks". The whole thing was skewed to produce the results you wanted

  • Wayne Hoggett
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    The survey was difficult to complete. It didn't seem to have a way to say: "Just leave the exams alone". We are ALREADY recertifying evey 3-4 years because that is the lifecycle of a typical Micrsoft product. Windows, Windows Server, Exchange, SQL, SharePoint - Each version lasts about 3-4 years, after that, no one cares about it anymore (Windows XP exempted).

  • Andrew Bettany
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    I am surprised that the results surprised you.  

    Which results have you seen Don - all of them or just the synopsis posted here?  I agree with many of the comments above, that when analysing statistics it is easy to group neutral and positive together to make the value greater - this actually then skews the results. I got the impression from the survey that it was indeed a "done deal", that re-certification would happen and the survey was worded to this effect.

    1000 respondents is an impressive number, though it is still a very small percentage of the 2.5million MCPs worldwide, still it shows that BTL has reach and a voice which is good.  My concern is that once a huge change is commissioned, the wider audience is made aware and then there could be a back lash which is currently not represented by the figures.

    I would like to suggest a follow up survey once your team have worked out how they plan to act on the results of the first one which asks more direct questions and provides some more details of the proposed changes.

    Here is an example of a question which looks similar but could generate different responses:

    "Do you believe drivers taking an eye sight test every 3 years would reduce road accidents? (Y/N)  I think most people would agree to this question.

    However If you asked the follow up question, "Would you support the decision to make eye sight tests every 3 years for drivers mandatory?" then I think the answer to this would be no!

    Finally, I agree that for some certs, they should expire (with the product), and others should be tied to the technology and not necessarily the product.  I doubt overall that for many certified people who are "current/up to date" that the re-certification process will cost them any more in time or exam fees.  The real cost here will be for those individuals whom rely on an legacy certification with no intention to upgrade. They will be effectively expunged from the MCP club...  (This was borne out in the huge thread regarding transcipt changes a few months ago).



  • Adam Vero
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    Andrew - great example of alternative ways to ask a question to get the answer you want

  • Anonymous
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    It is corporation propaganda. We know MSL have made decision, you just need some Excel and PowerPoint backups for this decision. I have made my own, and I know many other MCPs that are frustrated with all your policy changes. I do not know anyone who finds all those MSL changes as positive ones.

    It is probably income pressure on MSL we see here. You have already lowered benefits, increased prices, cut other costs and shortened certs life cycle. Instead of rising income you scare more and more MCP. This policy won't work. It is a known corporate game, very typical for MS, people inside are trying to survive, they do not care about product, customers, corporation. It was so obvious in other MS departments, but at least from outside it not so easy to spot with Windows 7/8/WP7 etc changes. MSL is not providing better services for customers since few years, all I see is going down with your offer.

    I hope you hit the bottom soon - and maybe we see similar changes (new managers, new offer not just "cutting" everything) that other MS departments are doing.

    Where the are Wallet Cards? It was part of benefits (free one) of lower priced exams in past. Now you are unable to keep up to your own promises to bring it back for money! Wasn't it scheduled for February this year? No updates about it on blog.... This shows how bad are MSL managers  - they can not implement such simple process in years!

  • cheong00
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    @nolimit: Regarding Wallet Cards, I received newsletter that said the Wallet Card processing website is entering test stage late September and would be launched by mid-October. Stay tuned.

  • Anonymous
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    I have seen so many date promises for Wallet Cards and other things like MCEA MCPStore etc. that I don't believe in single word from MSL. I can bet Wallet Cards won't be available this year :)

  • mattpcline
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    I have no issues with re-certification if it is done in a manner that makes sense. By this I mean you keep a standard certification and then just do update exams. An example of this would be Enterprise Messaging Administrator. If I could just keep that title and do a new exam for Exchange 201x and keep the one title I would be fine with it, the same would apply to Enterprise Administrator.

    The thing I would not like to see is the removal of older certification titles that I have obtained, eg, MCSE+Messaging.

    I also believe that you should re-evaluate the re-certification of the MCM program. I think that once you pass the written and lab exams that re-certification in a new version should only require a written exam.

  • Anonymous
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    The only reason I'm at this site is that I'm shocked that this is even on the table. It brings back memories of when CompTIA tried to force everyone to renew their cert's... that went over really well when it went to the masses. This poll was likely read by some seriously brilliant people who make a ton of money. For the average Joe who's just trying to stay employed, and not reading RSS feeds about certifications or filling out surveys that seem like spam, this is going to go over poorly. Nobody wants to spend the money on more tests. It typically takes people long enough just to be motivated into getting a cert... now you're going to push them away with this. I'm not crazy about it at all. I already feel that the MCITP wasn't marketed enough to be respected... and I meet headhunters now that don't even know what it is. Instead of asking what we can do for you $$$, ask us what you can do for us. I spent a ton of money getting this cert... push the marketing a bit so that I feel a return on my investment. The day employment agencies stop asking me if I have an 8 year old MCSE is the day I feel this was worth the effort.

  • Lars Helbig
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    I have to agree with everyone. The overwhelming response to the idea here and elswhere was quite negative and neither a leading survey nor inappropriate representation of the results distarct from the fact that most people don't want to have to recertify. There is no benefit to anyone in recertifying.

    My Certs already say something Like "MCITP - Enterprise Desktop Support Technican on Windows 7" everybody sees from the name that this means it is for the current client OS and not Vista and XP and once Windows 8 comes around people will see that it is for an older System and not up to date for the latest technology. We are already recertifiying by upgrading certs for older technolgies.

    Having both certs for specific prodcut versions and upgrades between them as well as recertfications makes no sense.

    If you want to introduce recertification you have to get rid of the references to specifc product versions.  Of course that would mean that you will have to rename everything again, which will further diminish the value of the certs by lessening their recognition. It took long enough for everyone to catch on that MCITP:EA was the new MCSE. Another change like this will just confuse people more.

  • Anonymous
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    This is still bothering me. Here's a situation that happened to me a while back. I joined one of the most active Microsoft Meetup groups (sometimes 50-100 folks in attendance) in the largest city in America... the meetings are IN the Microsoft Offices. I started talking to the group founder, who gives lectures on your products regularly at meetings... I don't understand how he's not a MVP after hearing how well versed he is... So I'm telling him that I'm going to take my final EA test and then start on CCNP. He's got no idea what I'm talking about. So I say... "MCITP: EA?????" He says to me, "Huh?" I then explain to him that it's the new MCSE and he finally gets it.

    Why did I bother getting this cert? I had been putting it off for years because of this... Nobody knows what it is... not even someone whom I consider a genius on your products. Maybe cert's aren't important to him, but the simple fact that he doesn't even know what it is speaks MILES.

    Has anyone sat down and thought that maybe having a cert with 27 letters is hard to remember? This isn't rocket science... CCNA, MCSE, CCIE, A+, MCP... what do these all have in common? They're short and sweet... easy to remember... MCITPEA isn't even easy to say let alone remember. I STILL get tongue tied trying to get it out, but I can somehow remember KMS needs port 1688... maybe because they're all under 4 characters???

    How about the customers create a new cert for you... you'd have to pass our tests and spend thousands, but it'll be worth it to call yourselves "X3MQLW9" certified... Then you can finally look in the mirror and feel some validation in your skillset... but don't bother trying to flaunt it... nobody else will know what you're talking about... oh... and the clock is ticking... you must recert in order to look in the mirror and feel important... when you're alone.

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