Microsoft certifications demonstrate the skills and expertise to implement business solutions using Microsoft technologies.
Microsoft provides the core business and productivity programs that organizations rely on. Regardless of your industry or career path, a clear understanding of Microsoft technologies (and the certifications to back up your knowledge) will help you accelerate your IT career.
In April of 2012, Microsoft Learning launched the latest iteration of its Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) program. The new generation of Microsoft certifications reflects the increasing importance of cloud-computing competencies, while still validating the skills to build on-site business solutions using Microsoft technologies. As you can see in the below graphic from Microsoft Learning, the current MCP program has three certification levels: Associate, Expert and Master.
As new Microsoft technologies are released, the certificates in the column one (Microsoft Certifications) will be phased out and replaced by those in the second column (Microsoft Cloud-Built Certifications). That said, businesses will be using existing Microsoft technologies for years to come, so credentials like the MCTS, MCITP & MCPD will remain in high-demand through 2013 and beyond; these MCPs will be eligible for upgrade exams to expedite migration to cloud-built certifications.
Another key change in Microsoft’s revamped certification program is the introduction of Recertification. Dependent on the certification(s) held, recertification requires MCPs to take 1-2 additional exams every few years to verify that their skills are up-to-date with the latest Microsoft technologies. Recertification increases the value of Microsoft certificates by proving to managers that a MCP's skills are always up-to-date.
Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certifications validate technical skills in a specific Microsoft product, e.g., SharePoint 2010 or Windows 7. Typical skills measured by MCTS certificates include implementing, troubleshooting, building on and debugging a particular Microsoft technology. MCTS certifications distinguish you from competing job candidates by demonstrating in-depth knowledge of the Microsoft technologies you can use.
Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) certifications are the foundation of your cloud-optimized Microsoft certification track. Designed for job-seekers in the early stage of their IT career, MCSA certifications demonstrate fundamental on-site and cloud-computing skills in one of Microsoft’s core platforms, i.e., Windows Server, SQL Server, Windows Client or Visual Studio.
Microsoft associate certifications are required to reach the expert-level credentials.
Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD) certifications are designed for programmers and developers, while Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) certifications designate IT professionals with a non-development focus. Where the MCTS certification proved your skills in a single Microsoft technology, IT Professional & Developer certificates validate expertise across multiple technologies for a specific job role, e.g., Database Administrator or Enterprise Desktop Support Technician. Typical skills measured by MCPD and MCITP certifications include designing, deploying, operating, integrating and optimizing the technologies for your IT job role.
Microsoft's new expert class of credentials includes Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) certifications for IT professionals and Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) certifications for programmers. Where the MCSA certificate measures skills in a single core technology, Microsoft expert-level certifications validate an individual’s wide-ranging technical skills, plus the ability to build on-premise and cloud-optimized solutions across multiple Microsoft platforms.
Microsoft expert certifications are required to reach the master-level credentials.
Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA) certifications help the highest-achieving professionals in IT architecture distinguish their expertise. The skills requirements for MCA certification are rigorous and culminate in an oral review by a prestigious board of your peers. Candidates for this high-end Microsoft certification have been working in IT for over 10 years and acting in an architect capacity for at least 3 years.
Microsoft Certified Solutions Master (MCSM) certifications recognize the preeminent IT professionals in their area of expertise. MCSM certification-holders have the deep technical skills and field experience to plan, design and implement complex IT and business solutions for on-premise, cloud-based and hybrid enterprise environments using a wide range of technologies. The MCSM certification is the pinnacle of the Microsoft's new MCP program and one of the industry’s most difficult IT certifications to achieve.
Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS)
MOS certifications are the only professional credentials that validate hands-on skills in the popular business and productivity applications in the Microsoft Office suite, i.e., Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and Outlook. Whether you want to advance your career or simply increase your productivity, earning a Microsoft Office Specialist certification demonstrates the expertise you need to succeed.
Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT)
Microsoft Certified Trainers are technical experts and the leading instructors for Microsoft technologies. MCTs are the only individuals allowed to deliver authorized Microsoft classes and certification prep using Microsoft Official Curriculum (MOC) courseware and labs. Getting MCT certified opens up a range of career opportunities at computer training centers, universities and public & private organizations that conduct in-house training.
Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE)
Before Microsoft introduced the MCTS and MCITP certifications in 2007, the MCSE was the go-to credential for IT professionals specializing in Microsoft server technologies. MCSE certificates demonstrate skills in designing, implementing and administering business solutions based on Windows Server 2000 or 2003. MCSEs can perform a variety of job roles including network analyst, systems analyst, systems engineer, IT support engineer and technical consultant.
Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA)
These are the most basic Microsoft certifications. MTA certifications validate fundamental skills in key IT career disciplines, including software & web development, database administration, security, networking and server administration. The MTA is specifically designed for students and individuals who are not yet working in the IT industry. MTA certificates demand no prerequisites.