The latest in our Share Your Story partner interviews is Dan Usher—a SharePoint engineer who holds a wealth of certifications—read on for his impressive roster. Dan’s story goes to show that your certifications aren’t just good for your company to meet Microsoft Partner Network requirements. They also help you, as an individual, stand out from the crowd—and they transfer with you, even if you change jobs.
Q: Firstly, do you have any Microsoft certifications?
A: I have a small number of them. Nothing to boast about, just certifications that I’ve picked up along the way while working toward different proficiencies in different technologies.
Q: Which ones?
  • SY0-201 – CompTIA Security+
  • MS 70-332 – Advanced Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013
  • MS 70-331 – Core Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013
  • MS 77-886 – MOS SharePoint 2010
  • MS 70-668 – MCITP SharePoint 2010 Administrator
  • MS 70-667 – TS: SharePoint 2010 Configuration
  • MS 70-630 – TS: SharePoint Server 2007 Configuration
  • MS 70-631 – TS: Windows SharePoint Services v3 Configuration
  • MS 70-290 – MCP: Managing and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Environment
  • MS 70-270 – MCP: Installing, Configuring, and Administering Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional
  • 70-347 – Enabling Office 365 Services
  • 70-346 – Managing Office 365 Identities and Requirements
  • MCSA Office 365
I also received the MVP Award for SharePoint Server from Microsoft.
(Editor’s note: Dan has added the Office 365 certification as well as the MVP award since we first interviewed him a couple of months ago. He is clearly motivated—and busy!)
Q: Wow! That’s a lot. Why did you choose those particular exams/certifications?
A: My core area of expertise is SharePoint as a collaboration and application development platform for business process automation. Understanding the core platform SharePoint and other applications operate on top of is key. I’ve been working toward the different SharePoint certifications for the past several years to stay current in the sense of formalization.
Q: Did you use any Microsoft Partner Network training resources to help you get ready, such as a learning path or another resource?
A: For the most part, the core of my studying has been working through the learning objectives on the Microsoft certification websites. Using that as a litmus test, I’ve been able to ensure that I have a good understanding of the knowledge that the exam will be testing against. Between the learning objective and working on VMs both locally and in a cloud hosted environment, I’ve been able to learn quite a bit about the technologies as well as ready myself for exams.
Q: You mentioned that you get certified to have a “common vocabulary.” We assume you mean with peers, potential clients, etc. Can you expand on this?
A: While it’s nice to know how SharePoint or any server technology should work, there are always intricacies and complexities that arise due to environments being made up of heterogeneous products woven together. Technologies such as SharePoint or Exchange may therefore exhibit odd behaviors due to the underlying platform not being as solid as originally anticipated.
Having a common vocabulary and baseline level of knowledge as to how an environment is configured is key. The Microsoft exams attempt to ensure that when individuals pass an exam, they are well-rounded with a core set of knowledge formalized so that they are not wasting valuable time being brought up to speed on what a particular term or topology means.
Q: What is your next certification goal?
A: I’m focusing on the 70-417 Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Upgrade exam so as to complete and attain Microsoft Certified Solutions Engineer status for SharePoint 2013. The exam was updated to include 2012 R2 functionality which means there’s a lot more studying to be done.
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