Insider's Guide: Microsoft Access 2007 Certification

A guide to the Microsoft Access 2007 Certification, from an IT pro who took it himself.
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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.

Why 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.

1.  Clients 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 you.

2.  Preparing 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 since forgotten.

3.  Passing 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 link:

http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/exams/77-605.mspx

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.

Next Page: the Exam, and 'How Did I Do?'


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Tags: developer, Microsoft, IT, certification


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