I admit that certification doesn’t make one an IT superhero
but it’s something every developer should consider. While I was earning a
handful of certifications back in the late 1990’s some of my colleagues were
inclined to minimize their importance but I can honestly say I’m glad I put
forth the effort and expense to get certified. It helped me then and it’s a
good idea now in these days of fierce competition over jobs.
Unfortunately, time marches on and the exams I once passed
have been retired, making my certifications somewhat meaningless. That was my
motivation for making 2009 the year to return to the certification track. I
decided to ease my way into it by taking the Microsoft Access 2007
Application Specialist (MCAS) exam. The following is what I learned along
the way that might prove helpful for others seeking an MCAS certification.
Some people don’t believe that certification is worth the
time and expense but they would do well to consider a few of its benefits.
and employers are impressed by certifications.
Right, wrong or otherwise, the fact that you’ve demonstrated a level of
competence by passing an exam is recognized and appreciated by those who pay
for certifications teaches you things you would otherwise never learn.
I learned a dozen keyboard shortcuts and other UI tricks while preparing for
the Visual Studio exam, not to mention other very important stuff that I’ve
an exam elevates you professionally.
It makes you feel great to nail an exam, as well it should. Obtaining
certifications helps you reach higher as an IT professional and can add
direction to your career.
What Certification(s) for Access Developers?
Some might argue that the real answer to this question is
that there aren’t any certifications for Microsoft Access application
developers and they would be correct. The exam I took was #77-605, Using
Microsoft Office Access 2007. Note that this is a curriculum for users,
not developers. A complete explanation of the exam is available through this
One reason I wanted to take this exam is because I haven’t
had much occasion to use Access 2007 in production and I wasn’t as familiar
with the new user interface as I really should be by this time. I found the
exam preparation to be good motivation for me to familiarize myself with this
version of Access.
The other reason I wanted to take this exam was to
jump-start my certification process. The other exams I’m looking at as an
Access developer are actually SQL Server exams. The majority of my current desktop
applications use SQL Server as a data store so I work with SQL Server all day
long. The next exams on my list are:
- #70-431 SQL Server 2005 Implementation and Maintenance
- #70-441 SQL Server 2005 Database Solutions Design
- #70-442 SQL Server 2005 Data Access Design and Optimization
How to Prepare for Certification?
The first stop should be at the source of the exam:
Microsoft. The following links will get you started and even direct you to
exam study resources, some of which I used in my preparation.
Another way to prepare for certification is to take a course
from one of the many accredited training companies. I’ve done this before, but
only when the technology was completely new to me and I was effectively
starting from scratch. Training can be expensive and it usually caters to the
lowest common denominator with respect to level of complexity, so I’ve tended
to stay away from paid coursework. However, if training is included in your
company benefits package then by all means, take advantage of it.
For the Microsoft Office Access 2007 exam, I relied upon a
book with a long title, published by Wiley:
Microsoft Official Academic Course
Microsoft Office Access 2007 Exam 77-605
Overall, it was a great experience for me. The book sells
for around $70, the exam cost me $89 and I spent about a week of evenings in
preparation. I can now add the Microsoft Certified logo to my emails and tell
the world I’m an application specialist. But more importantly, I’m on my way
to gaining more certifications. With one win under my belt and a resolve to
better myself, I’m ready to take on the SQL Server 2005 exams.