Microsoft Certifications: What's Your Path?
Love them or hate them, Microsoft's technologies and products undeniably have an enormous grasp of the IT market share. To accompany this breadth of technologies and products, Microsoft has developed a comprehensive and well-known education program to back their technical offerings. As a person who may be interested in joining the IT field or enhancing your skills as an IT professional, gaining at least one Microsoft certification is often held in high importance for one's resume and skill set. Microsoft offers certifications in many subject areas that could be attractive to IT professionals, from junior network administrators and support personnel to high-level enterprise developers. After considering the area(s) of IT you want to grow in, you can select a certification path from Microsoft that will enhance your knowledge of Microsoft technologies and help you learn new job skills or enhance current skills. Depending on your chosen path, you may decide to achieve an MCP, MCSA/MCSE, MCAD/MCSD, MCDBA, or an MCT certification. Lots of alphabet soup here! Not to worry, though, let's explore these certifications further to find what might be right for you. We will cover the MCP, MCSA, and MCSE certifications further in this article, and we will explore the MCAD, MCSD, MCDBA, and MCT certification tracks in a second article.
The first certification discussed is the Microsoft Certified Professional credential, otherwise known as the MCP. This certification is by far the most popular Microsoft certification available. According to www.mcpmag.com, nearly 900,000 people have achieved the MCP status. The nearest certification to this number is the MCSE, which numbers in the neighborhood of 180,000 certified professionals. Why the popularity? A lot of this popularity is due to the relative ease of obtaining this certification. Unlike its cousins, that can require between four and seven exams to get certified, the MCP requires you to only pass one exam.
To get MCP certified, you are required to pass one Microsoft certification exam on any topic (except Microsoft Office topics), as long as that topic's exam has not been retired. For instance, you may be a technical support personnel and your company is rolling out Windows 2000 Professional as its desktop OS. As a result, you decide to study for and take the 70-210 Installing, Configuring, and Administering Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional exam. Or, if you are a developer, you can pass the 70-305 Developing and Implementing Web Applications with Microsoft Visual Basic® .NET and Microsoft Visual Studio® .NET exam. By passing these exams, you will achieve the MCP certification, and then you will be recognized as a competent person to install, configure, and manage this desktop OS or to develop effective Web applications with Visual Basic .NET.
This achievement will give you access to the MCP secured Web site where you can receive benefits such as logos and transcripts for your use. Also, you will receive a certificate from Microsoft detailing your accomplishment. This is a nice addition to your work area to let people know of your accomplishment! Generally, this is the first certification you will achieve in Microsoft technologies. You may wish to stop with this certification because you have validated yourself with a section of Microsoft technologies that you are currently working with, or this may be one achievement along the way to a larger certification, like the MCSA, MCSE, or MCSD.