I firmly believe in the importance of vendor certifications. I started working with Access 2.0 in 1995, and by 1998,with the introduction of Access 95 followed by Access 97, there seemed to be an awful lot of people doing similar work in Access, and I felt that I needed a "unique selling point" as it were, so I took my first exam on Microsoft Access, which earned me the MCP, Microsoft Certified Professional.
Over the next few years, I took two required exams on Visual Basic, and one more exam that covered "Solution Architectures". That earned me the MCSD, Microsoft Certified Solution Developer. At the time, that was the highest Developer certification that MS offered. At last count, out of approx two million MS certified individuals world-wide, only 45,000 are MCSD's, making it quite a prestigious and exclusive achievement
I also studied for the SQL Server 7.0 exam, but unfortunately the exam was retired before I got a chance to take it. However, the 7.0 study guide (Exam Cram) remains an excellent reference book & I keep it on my desk at work.
I had planned to upgrade my cert to MCSD.NET, even bought the study kit, and passed the first exam ("Solution Architectures on the .NET Platform"). However, the remaining four books/exams were hard to deal with, because the "one size fits all" notion included both of the two programming languages in .NET -plus- coverage on both Windows and Web-based applications. Not to mention that the new MCSD.NET cert also required still one more elective exam. Sheesh!
In the meantime, MS has revamped much of their certifications and added several more -- MCTS, Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist, and MCITP Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional. I am presently studying for the MCTS exam "SQL Server 2005 Implementation and Maintenance."
Once that is complete, with the requisite MCTS, I will pursue the MCITP certification which requires two additional exams on Server 2005.
The bottom line is that I possess:
MCP – Microsoft Certified Professional
MCSD – Microsoft Certified Solution Developer
Pending – MCTS = Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist
Future – MCITP = Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional