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Microsoft Certs - The Next Generation [Part 2]

16 Jul, 2008 By: Carla Nasse imageSource

Microsoft Certs - The Next Generation [Part 2]

Don’t let ’em get complacent!  Let’s change it all!  Can’t you just hear that
resonating across Puget Sound at Microsoft’s headquarters?   Everyone is so used
to the term “MCSE.”  The title conjures up visions of competent IT people that
can do just about anything that has anything to do with, well, IT, at least from
our humble vantage point. They are the ones that you first call when something
is wrong with your company laptop and you need it fixed in a hurry.  You take
the laptop to them; they push some keys and magically you’re back on the company
network.  They are, more importantly, the ones that we take with us to our
accounts for the tough stuff. Okay, some want an MCSE to come in on every call
involving IT. As companies become more competitive, that’s a luxury few will be
able to afford. And, when all of us got comfortable with “MCSE” and “MCSA,”
apparently it was time to change up the acronyms!

With IT in an ever-evolving, prolific state of expansion, Microsoft decided
it was time to take their certifications in a more focused direction.  In
conjunction with the introduction of their new product line, Microsoft has
created new certifications to go with them.  Like specialties in the medical
field, there is so much to know in the world of IT, it’s impossible to know
everything.  You have to choose an area of expertise.  Here’s my take on some of
Microsoft’s certification changes.

First, it’s been a total rebuild.  The new certifications are structured
differently.  They are grouped in categories and according to specialization. 
Where once there were less than a dozen certifications, now there are categories
with numerous certifications in each.  The categories are Technology Specialist,
Professional, and Professional Developer.  They are targeted to the skills for
specific jobs like System Administrators, Web Developers, and Database
Administrators, but there are many specialties within each.   According to
Microsoft, the new set of certifications was designed to be more relevant and
simpler to understand.  I’ll agree with more relevant.  “Simpler to understand”
is still up for debate.

There are a lot of acronyms.  The IT industry has almost as many as the
government.  The acronyms for a feeder can make most heads spin.  There are ADF,
RADF, SADF, RDF, RDH, and DADF style feeders.  We learned all of those and what
they mean.  We’re also getting use to all the acronyms that are part of the
document imaging industry.  Now that we are part of that world, we’ll get used
to all the IT acronyms in general.

Specialist / MCTS

Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist – As of this writing, there are no
less than 22 distinct MCTS certifications. On the surface, each certification
seems to be the equivalent of a MCP.  The difference is that the full name tells
which exam was taken.  They all start with MCTS, but then include the particular
knowledge and skill set that the cert was designed to validate.  Examples are
Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist: Windows Server 2008 Applications
Infrastructure Configuration and Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist:
Windows Vista, Configuration.  An IT Manager can quickly identify the MCTS’ area
of expertise.  They are proficient in whatever follows the MCTS.  As with MCP,
MCTS is a steppingstone to the higher level certifications.  1 or 2 exams are

Professional / MCITP

Microsoft Certified IT Professional – So far, there are only nine
certifications within the MCITP credential, but Microsoft indicates that there
will be more.  This category is characteristic of the MCSA and MCSE level. 
Microsoft is consistent with the new framework.  Examples of these are MCITP:
Database Administrator, MCIPT: Enterprise Administrator, MCITP: Database
Developer, and MCITP: Enterprise Messaging Administrator. MCDST (Microsoft
Certified Desktop Support Technician) certification is being replaced by MCITP:
Consumer Support Technician credential. MCDBA (Microsoft Database Administrator)
certification is being replaced by MCITP: Database Administrator credential.  An
average of three exams is required, but the MCITP: Enterprise Administrator
requires five.  Someday, maybe MCITP will roll off the tongue as smoothly as the

Developer / MCPD

Microsoft Certified Professional Developer – There are 3 MCPD certification
paths;  Windows, Web & Enterprise. These are for the Developers; the people in
the “lab” discovering new cures for the common computer. They’re developing
applications using Visual Studio 2008 & the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5. With
titles like MCPD: Windows Developer 3.5, MCPD: ASP.NET Developer 3.5 and MCPD:
Enterprise Applications Developer 3.5, these are the highest level
certifications from Microsoft. These certifications are replacing the MCSD, MCAD
& MCDBA designations.

Business / MCAS

Microsoft Certified Application Specialist – This is the bonus certification
for the rest of us that replaces MOUS (Microsoft Office User Specialist for
Office 2000) and MOS (Microsoft Office Specialist for Office 2003).  MCAS is the
certification for Microsoft Office Suite applications: Word 2007, Excel 2007,
PowerPoint 2007, etc. 


Microsoft Certified Application Professional – This certification takes the
MCAS a little farther.  It adds SharePoint and advanced Office skills into the
validation mix.  There are 4 exams from which to pick.   Passing one exam earns
the MCAP credential with specialties in Organizational Support, Creating and
Managing Presentations, Content Management & Collaboration, and Budget Analysis
and Forecasting.  Eventually, certifications like MCSE and MCSA will go the way
of carbon paper (audible sigh).  As long as Windows XP and 2003 are still
around, the MCSE certification will still be highly valued.  Over time though,
as XP and 2003 are replaced by newer technologies, the MCSE and MCSA
certifications will become obsolete.  With a little time and open-mindedness,
MCTS, MCITP and MCAP will develop into a cognitive recognition that is

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