I just pass two Microsoft exams and I plan two next for a early future. I speak with many people about certifications, and they have different opinions. Some of them told me that certification does not prove anything and is just a piece of paper. Others think that preparing for the certification process is a waste of time. Many say that practical experience in software development and designing is the most important of all, and nothing more is necessary to prove your knowledge and experience than to prepare some algorithm or piece of well-designed software.
I know two very good recruiters/headhunters. One of them told me that certification usually allows the selection of good candidates for the job or a new project. She also believes that passing the exam means that someone has knowledge about technology that was measured correctly. So she can focus on the interpersonal skills or personality of candidates. So in this way certificates can help to prove your knowledge quickly. And what is most important your honors do not be missing.
Ok, you may say it is better to have certificate but what about opinions about practical experience? I must say that I like to prepare myself for exams, and a great feeling when I see that I have passed. And I do not think about proofing anything. I just want to win this challenge :). Not for honors or awards because I prepare for exams only for myself. I am not sure if it is good to have technical titles. When I always prepare some software incorrectly, I understand that having certifications does not mean you are infallible.
And at last I would like to share my conclusions with you. First, it is always good to learn new things and improve in the areas that interest you. And every good specialist can prove her or his knowledge through certifications. Still, it is not as important as communication skills, personality, ability to quickly solve problems, and last but not least, sharing of your knowledge. Because if you are an excellent professional, you should often spread your ideas and share your knowledge to inspire other team members. Having only technical skills even very high is not as important as be nice and open-minded :).
Best wishes of always passed exams :),