I'm in the midst of a six-day, three exam, "boot camp" course in Hampton, VA. So far, I've passed two of the exams. The last one is this Saturday. If I pass that one, I will move from MCSA/2003 to MCITP-SA/2008, so I will be a happy camper. Scoff if you want, but every little bit helps. Especially since I work in the IT field and am 45 years old.
Age, generally speaking, goes against you in the IT field, except for a subset of the overall U.S. IT job market. With 18 year old kids coming out of high school with their MCITP, VCP, CCNA certs (no, I am not exaggerating one bit here), they are cheaper to hire, tend to devote longer hours at work (no family to run home to support, no sick babies to tend to, no house repairs, etc.) and so on.
So, being older, more expensive (generally), more encumbered with obligations outside of the workplace, and so on, it's a no-brainer that employers are looking for the best bang for their buck. Sure you can say that "experience" counts, but that only factors into places that value experience over a cheaper price tag. My employer is a rarity in that they do still value experience, so I am indeed lucky. And considering I am also lucky to be able to take part in an education assistance program during a Recession like this is an added bonus.
Anyhow, I've passed 83-640, 70-642 and next up is 70-646. Tomorrow will be a full-bore lecture and study day. Tonight I'm going to give my brain a break.