One thing we all have in common is a desire to become certified—or to remain certified. However, passing an exam doesn't necessarily mean that you're certified. Your exam results must travel back to a vendor, which must create or update your profile correctly. In some cases, errors can prevent a vendor from receiving your score report.

I've taken Microsoft certification exams at the same testing center for years. Typically, the results appear on my online transcript within 48 hours. When the exam results for Exam 70-227: Installing, Configuring, and Administering Microsoft Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server 2000, Enterprise Edition hadn't shown up after nearly a week, I contacted Microsoft, which requested a fax of the score report. Fortunately, I file all of my score reports in my home office, and Microsoft was gracious enough to accept a scanned .tif version of my report though email. Problem solved.

If you don't have documentation of the exams you've passed, situations such as the one I experienced can become expensive nightmares. In fact, you might have to retake an exam at full price to verify that you passed. A colleague of mine became certified while working overseas, but the paperwork didn't follow him when he moved back to the United States. He must now retake every exam in the Windows 2000 MCSE track—even though he had already earned the Win2K MCSE!

To avoid such problems, document and archive your exam results. At a minimum, document

  • exam score reports
  • the vendor's ID and contact information (which you'll need if you move and have to distribute change-of-address information)
  • copies of your certificates

A great tool for this project is a flatbed scanner. If you don't own a scanner, you can buy one for less than $100 or convince a friend with a scanner to scan your documents for you. When you have an electronic copy of your certificates, you'll be free to use the paper versions as wallpaper. Or better yet, you can make color copies of them to hang in your office.