According to my MS Learning Transcript I became a Microsoft Certified Trainer in July of 2006. Unlike professional certifications, the MCT credential has to be renewed on a yearly basis, and on March 15th this year I renewed again. It is actually fairly simple, as long as you haven’t done anything to mess it up. You have to pay USD$400, but aside from that it is painless.
Four Hundred Dollars is not chicken feed… it’s a lot of money to pay to Microsoft every year, and I have had several friends and colleagues ask me if it is worth paying year after year. The answer is unequivocally YES.
I am thinking about it now because in this morning’s MCT Flash newsletter there was a reminder that current MCTs have only three more days to renew their status. I have never let mine lapse, but I do remember the paperwork and hassles that were involved in getting the credential the first time, and I do not want to go through it again. I have spoken with a couple of MCTs who over the years have forgotten and let it lapse, and getting that corrected is never simple.
There was a time when I coveted my MCT above all of my other certifications, although I suppose that is no longer the case; it is not that I value my MCT any less now, but I have a lot of other certifications that I feel better demonstrate my technical knowledge, whereas the MCT really demonstrates my presentation abilities.
With that being said, unless my career takes a very unexpected turn, I will not let my MCT lapse… ever. It means more than knowledge, it means that if I ever find myself between consulting gigs, rather than sitting dejected at home I can take a contract training at a CPLS… if I want. It means that if I want to learn the latest technology I can go to the MCT Download Site and download the course and do it on my own. It means that I have an inside contact to speak with at Microsoft Learning, and it means that people at Microsoft are more willing to listen to my concerns.
At an event I was at recently I overheard a colleague speaking with a mutual acquaintance and encouraging them to become an MCT. I thought this was a terrible idea, and I told him (my colleague) so. It is not because it is not a great credential; it was because I knew the person in question, and do not think they are worthy of it. They do not have the confidence or speaking and presentation skills, not to speak of technical acumen. If this sounds harsh, it is this simple: when people who do not deserve the credential are given it, they lower the bar for the rest of us, and thus lessens the credibility of the credential to others who may then see ‘Oh, if So-and-so earned it, maybe it’s not as hard as it once was.
There are a lot of loopholes that would let people become MCTs if they knew about them. I even know of a few who have done so. I never help anyone with these, because I have sat through too many classes (and heard horror stories from others who have done the same) with MCTs who had trouble stringing sentences together, or had no understanding of the importance of not only knowing the subject matter, but of making it interesting and engaging the students.
So with regard to the acquaintance who I do not feel should be an MCT, my recommendation is to start going to Toast Masters, get a lot of public speaking experience, and work hard on the technical side. However if you are not comfortable speaking to large (or small) audiences… until that changes, you just shouldn’t be an MCT.
Good luck, and welcome back to all of the renewed Trainers!