While the MCSE is hardly the IT equivalent of a high school diploma, the fact that many employers consider it a base requirement for network professionals shows both its weakness and strength. Past exam cheating and the fact that so many people have the certification have cut the MCSE's value, yet a demonstrated proficiency in Microsoft networking systems is still in demand.
For some network engineers, career direction and current responsibilities may affect whether the certification upgrade is worth the effort. When asked if he plans to pursue the Windows 2000 track for his MCSE, Gleed said, I don't think the MCSE certification will help me much at this point in my career. I'm currently designing network infrastructures, and the only server consideration I'm concerned about is making sure the network is properly designed to allow access to the server.
Another perspective comes from Scott Davies, network support analyst for CompHealth, Inc. in Murray, Utah. "When I'm asked whether or not I will update my expiring MCSE certification, I have mixed emotions. I wonder how much value the certification adds to my resume or job position, he says, so I will wait until the very end of validity and evaluate where I am in my current position and what area I am going to be specializing in. If I feel the certification will add something to my skill set or job position, then yes I will update it. If not, then I don't see the point.
CompHealth is already running Windows 2000, according to its manager of technical services, Terry Evans. When asked about the significance of the 2000 MCSE certification, Evans said, If someone already has the Windows NT 4.0 MCSE, I'm not too concerned about them having the 2000 certification before I hire them. However, like many companies, CompHealth encourages employees to advance their certifications.
Market Valuation, Market Validation
Thus far, the demand for a Windows 2000 MCSE seems to be a little light in some areas. David Johnston is the account director for Volt Technical Services, a division of New York-based Volt Information Sciences, Inc. When asked about the demand for Windows 2000 MCSEs, Johnston said, I have not--yet--had a customer specify that they require a Windows 2000 MCSE.
On the other hand, the market value for a Windows 2000 MCSE on the national level seems to be growing. This means that managers may need to pay higher salaries in order to attract and retain Windows 2000 MCSEs. A search for Windows 2000 MCSE at EarthWeb's job site, www.dice.com, resulted in more than 350 job listings. Similarly, a search for MCSE alone resulted in over 1,800 result hits. For those Windows 2000 MCSE postings listing a pay rate, the range was from about $40,000 per year to as high as $140 per hour for a one-month position working on Windows 2000 and clustering.
According to Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine's salary survey in the August 2000 issue, wages are higher for those pursuing the Windows 2000 MCSE than for those working with NT 4.0. However, as the certification was relatively new in April when the survey was taken, Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine cautioned that the results are not necessarily representative. The survey next year is expected to provide a clearer picture of this trend.
Just as Microsoft isn't the only company selling a network operating system, it isn't the only company offering professional certification for its products. Provo, Utah-based Novell Inc. also has certification for its network operating system. In fact, the Novell CNE certification program was launched four years before Microsoft's MCSE program.