I believe there are some discussion on whether being certified really bring the value to work and personal growth. Well, I think it's better to have a goal on a certain profession and then move on to the next level. For example, I have been certified on XXX programming language and this means I have sufficient knowledge on that language. However, experience does contribute more than just programming language and perhaps, that can be consider the next level after certification.
So far, getting a lot experience does not have a point, if without certification, because who knows the experience really does apply the skill on the job. Maybe the skill wasn't apply at all time (e.g 20% using skill, 80% in meetings. 5 years of experience is actually 1 year only).
In short, I think having experience is valuable, getting the certification is just to anchor that claim.
(I'm currently doing self study for the exam. Oh well, it feels like I'm going back to college again.)