PowerShell with a Purpose Blog

Why no PowerShell certification from Microsoft?

Recently, I've been fielding a lot of questions about PowerShell certifications - or, more specifically, why Microsoft doesn't offer one. Here's why.

Microsoft exams are intended to focus on job tasks, not technologies. That is, you might be tested on creating users, deleting mailboxes, restoring files, and so forth, because those are all job tasks you'd be asked to perform in the real world. "PowerShell" isn't a job task - it's one means of completing some of those tasks. So you'll probably never see a "PowerShell" exam from Microsoft. What you will see, however, is PowerShell cropping up throughout all of their exams. The Exchange Server 2007 and 2010 exams have PowerShell in them, for example, because PowerShell is a key means of accomplishing tasks in those products.

I know, I know - it's not a satisfying answer. But it's how Microsoft has built their certification program, and they certainly have a respectable goal, regardless of how well you feel they've executed.

The next thing that usually comes up is a discussion on a non-Microsoft certification exam for PowerShell. I have mixed feelings about those. For one, they're darned expensive to develop - I used to be co-owner of a company that developed certification exams, and a really high-stakes, high-profile exam could cost more than $250,000 to develop. It involves a lot more than just dreaming up a few Q&A! Delivering the exam is also expensive: Vendor like Prometric typically want a minimum amount of yearly income from an exam sponsor, so you could be looking at taking on another $100,000 or more in guarantees. That's a minimum of 800 exam deliveries per year, and that's assuming you don't keep any of the delivery fee to pay off your development expenses. Anyway, a bigger problem is that I doubt anyone would respect an exam that didn't come from Microsoft or another established brand like CompTIA. Because PowerShell isn't vendor-neutral, CompTIA likely wouldn't tackle it.

So I don't expect to see any real third-party certification exams, either.

That said, we as a community could develop a simple, straightforward "self-certification." It would just be a bunch of Q&A, and you'd probably answer online through some Web site. It wouldn't carry any real weight, because it's be child's play to cheat. I expect the answers would be published by some brain-dump site within about 45 seconds of the "exam" going live. But it would be a good way to self-certify - that is, to let yourself know that you've got what it takes to really operate PowerShell. If you could complete the exam with a passing grade, without cheating, then you'd know, in your own head, that you were "certified."

It'll be tough getting that off the ground. My fellow MVPs have tossed the idea around now and again, but nothing's ever come of it. The fact remains that even pulling together the questions - and agreeing on what they should be in the first place - is an incredible amount of work, and everybody seems to have one of those "job" things, not to mention a "family" thing, and between the two they seem to consume all available time. Dang it.

Would you - or probably more importantly, your boss - care about a PowerShell certification? What if it came from someone other than Microsoft? What if it was strictly a "self-certification" that you took on the honor system?

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