I’ve come across many discussions about the merit of Microsoft certifications with some claiming that it makes cream rise to the top and others claiming that any moron with the time to read a book could pass the tests. I don’t agree with either viewpoint, but I did earn an MCSD.Net credential. My conclusion is “it can’t hurt”.
The following article is worth reading, though, on the effect of certifications and salary. You have to adjust numbers depending on your area’s cost of living, but it’s a good read: http://www.mcpmag.com/salarysurveys/
Also, dig a little deeper to get a feel for the relationship between years of experience and the salary because that also has a big effect.
And last but not least, a big plug for the Pre-Tech Ed Party with Palermo.