In my past two columns, I asked for your thoughts about Lanop's Windows NT 4.0 certification and whether you think there's any value in pursuing it and similar alternative certifications. As I requested, many of you posted your responses as reader feedback to the column on the Windows 2000 Magazine Web site, and recently, your responses have become more directed and compelling.
In one interesting comment, which I think both aspiring and expiring MCSEs should note, an IT director said that he does pay attention to certifications when he makes hiring decisions. He pays attention to experience as well, of course, but he welcomes the Lanop certification as a reflection of a candidate's basic NT 4.0 skill set.
Another reader wrote that the Lanop certification is an excellent idea and said that although the certification doesn't currently have much recognition, that could easily change. Remember, the Microsoft certifications didn't gain industrywide recognition for several years, and they're still not accepted everywhere as a sure sign of competence because of the widespread use of brain-dump sites and the proliferation of "paper certifications."
Other readers compared Microsoft MCSE certification to certification in other fields, such as auto repair. Mechanics become certified on particular car types, and sometimes on particular subsystems, such as brakes or air-conditioning. New models roll off the production lines every year, but that hardly means that mechanics certified on older models will suddenly find themselves out of work. The same applies to airline pilots. Sure, the Boeing 777 is the latest "new and improved" model, but when I fly home to Seattle from Sacramento later today, I'll be happy to know that the pilot is certified to fly the older Boeing 737 that I'll be on.
If your data processing shop still runs NT 4.0 exclusively, how would you feel about hiring an MCSE who has passed all the Windows 2000 tests but hasn't ever touched NT 4.0?
I've stressed in my Training and Certification UPDATE commentaries and elsewhere that there's no such thing as a Win2K MCSE or an NT MCSE, but I'm starting to wonder whether that's really such a good thing. What's wrong with a transcript that can demonstrate multiple proficiencies within a certification? I know that Microsoft isn't about to change its mind about this issue, but that's where organizations such as Lanop can prove useful. For those of you who want to be able to present a transcript or a resume that reflects your actual skill set, alternative NT 4.0 certifications might be a really good idea.