It seams the popularity and importance of certifications goes up and down in the IT-industry. The only thing constant is the ongoing debate on whether certifications are valuable as a "receipt" on competence or a total scam. I think there is a value but the value vary greatly depending on the type of certification.
After a bit over ten years in the industry I've gathered a set of certifications. However, the value of them are in most cases very little over following a coarse or reading a book. I'm certified in both OOAD by IBM/Rational and in Java programming by Sun/Oracle. I have also ample experience in both fields but I got the certifications prior to that, by just reading the books and completing a test. For my Scrum Master certification I didn't even have to complete a test, following a two day course was enough. This is the reason for this particular certification being so heavily criticised, and I agree, the "certification" does not bring any additional value. But the two day course was great for gaining fundamental knowledge on values and core practices and I have since practised implementing Scrum and other agile techniques and value systems successfully.
These types of certifications are, despite that it might involve hard work to complete them since they tend to test on so specific things, entry level in most cases and as such adding no more value than successfully completing an exam at a small course at university. But there are other types of certifications that are based on real world experience and proven capabilities evaluated by experienced software engineers. Within the Capgemini group we've had such certifications for different professions for a long time and more recently it has been aligned with the publicly known Open Group ITSC. This is a certification based on what I've done in real world assignments and I think it is also a valid quality guarantee for the knowledge and experience I can bring into a new project. This is the only certification I'm proud of!