Ten Things You Should Know    About Microsoft Certifications    February 2012	                            ...
Ten Things You Should Know About Microsoft Certifications                                                      Ten Things ...
Ten Things You Should Know About Microsoft Certifications                                          1           Microsoft C...
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Ten Things You Should Know About Microsoft Certifications                                                      Windows Con...
Ten Things You Should Know About Microsoft Certifications                                                      of the cert...
Ten Things You Should Know About Microsoft Certifications                                          5            Microsoft ...
Ten Things You Should Know About Microsoft Certifications                                                       questions ...
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Ten Things You Should Know About Microsoft Certifications                                                      Visual Stud...
Ten Things You Should Know About Microsoft Certifications                                                      Certificati...
Ten Things You Should Know About Microsoft Certifications                                                                 ...
Ten Things You Should Know About Microsoft Certifications                                                       Microsoft ...
Ten Things You Should Know About Microsoft Certifications                                          9           The Highest...
Ten Things You Should Know About Microsoft Certifications                                   10                 Microsoft C...
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Ten Things You Should Know About Microsoft Certification

  1. 1. Ten Things You Should Know About Microsoft Certifications February 2012 © Axzo Press, LLC 2012, All Rights Reserved
  2. 2. Ten Things You Should Know About Microsoft Certifications Ten Things You Should Know About Microsoft Certifications Microsoft certification is a keystone in the careers of many IT professionals worldwide. However, the Microsoft certification field is complex and often confusing; even Microsoft-certified professionals rarely understand all of its aspects. This white paper guides you through 10 things that you should know to make the right Microsoft certification choices for your IT career. 1 Microsoft Certifications Are in High Demand 2 Each Microsoft Certification Is Uniquely Challenging 3 Many Microsoft Exams Include Hands-on Simulations 4 There Is No One “Right” Way to Study for a Microsoft Exam 5 Microsoft Has Harsh Penalties for Cheaters 6 The Registration and Testing Process Is a Bit Complicated 7 The Exams Are Intentionally Stressful 8 Each Certification Path Includes Several Exams 9 The Highest Levels of Certification Have the Greatest Benefits 10 Microsoft Certifications Have a Complex  |  © Axzo Press, LLC 2012, All Rights Reserved 2
  3. 3. Ten Things You Should Know About Microsoft Certifications 1 Microsoft Certifications Are in High Demand For IT professionals, there are hundreds of certifications to choose from and thousands of reasons to choose one certification over another. But Microsoft certifications continue to be the most sought-after certifications worldwide. This status is largely due to the significant market share that Microsoft technologies hold. There is a consistently high demand for IT professionals who have the skills and knowledge necessary to configure, install, and maintain Microsoft products. If you want to enter the IT job market, it’s practically mandatory to have experience with Microsoft products regardless of your desired specialty or interests. While a job-seeker may specialize in Linux or Cisco hardware, the saturation depth of Microsoft products in the business world makes knowledge of Microsoft products a requirement even for people who don’t work with them on a day-to-day basis. As a result, Microsoft certification is one of the best ways for IT professionals to demonstrate their knowledge and qualify for open positions. While practically everyone in IT needs some level of Microsoft product knowledge, not everyone pursues the certifications Microsoft offers. However, those who do pursue Microsoft certifications often have a critical edge over their non-certified competition, and they are typically offered better pay and positions as well. At all levels of IT, Microsoft certification has a strong presence. These certifications can help the new IT professional get a foot in the door, or they can help a seasoned IT pro land a new high-level and high-paying position. 2 Each Microsoft Certification Is Uniquely Challenging The world of Microsoft certification is confusing and changes frequently. There are hundreds of exams to choose from, and each Microsoft title requires passing different exams. The structure of the Microsoft certification world might seem confusing at first, but it’s possible to sort out the chaos and plan a career and certification path. There are two major career paths that Microsoft certifications are designed for. The “The highest levels require first and most popular path is geared toward designing, deploying, maintaining, and that candidates both pass troubleshooting Microsoft server and desktop solutions. This is the path that system administrators, infrastructure architects, and support personnel typically follow. the exams and demonstrate The other path is focused on applications and web development using Microsoft their expertise in a live, technologies. This is the path that software developers and programmers follow. administered lab environment For both of these paths, Microsoft currently offers seven levels of certification, starting with the Associate level and ultimately reaching the Architect level. Each in which real-world problems higher level requires a more specialized knowledge set. The highest levels require are presented.” that candidates both pass the exams and demonstrate their expertise in a live, administered lab environment in which real-world problems are presented. Microsoft exams range from entry-level offerings that test basic concepts, to advanced exams that include detailed and highly technical simulations and scenarios. Each exam contains unique material, but the higher-level exams often build on the knowledge that’s required to pass lower-level exams. This  |  © Axzo Press, LLC 2012, All Rights Reserved 3
  4. 4. Ten Things You Should Know About Microsoft Certifications especially true for server-based technology exams; passing the high-end server exams requires a deep understanding of the concepts covered in the easier exams. Microsoft certification levels: 1. MTA: Microsoft Technology Associate 2. MCTS: Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist 3. MCPD: Microsoft Certified Professional Developer 4. MCITP: Microsoft Certified IT Professional 5. MCM: Microsoft Certified Master 6. MCA: Microsoft Certified Architect Although the levels of certification begin at Associate (MTA), at this level the “Many of the lower-level exams are usually taken by high school and beginning college students. IT professionals typically begin their certification journey at the MCTS level instead. exams are required to For all levels of certification, the process begins with a Microsoft exam. To earn obtain higher-level certification higher-level certification titles, you need to pass specific exams related to the desired title. titles, so there’s not much to be gained by skipping Many of the lower-level exams are required to obtain higher-level certification titles, so there’s not much to be gained by skipping easier exams and taking the easier exams and taking harder ones first. Most Microsoft-certified professionals begin their certification paths with the relatively easy operating system exams and then work their way up the harder ones first.” to the server and specialized technology exams. 3 Many Microsoft Exams Include Hands-on Simulations Exams with hands-on simulations can be a major stumbling block for many certification candidates. It’s often easier to remember information or theories presented in a book or training course than it is to put that knowledge to practical use. The exam simulations require test takers to demonstrate practical, hands- on knowledge of the technology on which they are being evaluated, and this component adds to the stress and pressure of the exam process. Tackling the dreaded Microsoft simulations Microsoft exams are infamous for their simulations, but for the prepared candidate, they’re not unreasonably challenging. You need to know your way around the relevant Microsoft products to successfully complete the simulations, but they’re not overly complicated and not always worthy of dread. In fact, some test takers believe the simulations are the easiest part of the exam. Simulations vary greatly depending on the exam. They can encompass everything from easy one-click solutions to technical problems that require several steps to resolve correctly. An important point to remember with simulations is that they have a Reset button that you can use without penalty. If you attempt several actions before finding the correct one to resolve an issue, use the Reset button and perform only the correct actions to complete the simulation. Another important thing to remember about the simulations is that Microsoft does not use a full operating system. As a result, you will notice that some familiar product features will not be available if they are not directly related to the simulation. For example, in a simulation that does not involve the use of  |  © Axzo Press, LLC 2012, All Rights Reserved 4
  5. 5. Ten Things You Should Know About Microsoft Certifications Windows Control Panel, the Control Panel will not be available. This is also true of menu items that do not pertain to the test item. If you feel lost during a simulation exercise, keep these points in mind. Take a minute or two to poke around the simulation and see which options, menus, and commands are available to you. This exploration can provide valuable clues regarding the direction you need to take to solve the simulation. 4 There Is No One “Right” Way to Study for a Microsoft Exam Certification exams can be tough, and Microsoft is considered one of the hardest vendors to test with. Microsoft is notorious for presenting several answers that would work in the real world, but favoring an answer that is correct for the testing environment. As a result, there’s often a serious disconnect between an answer that is correct on an exam and the method that would normally be used in the field. With this scenario in mind, it becomes even more important to have a solid understanding of the relevant subject matter and methodologies. There’s no single “right” way to study for certification exams. Everyone has different methods of studying, and these methods can be vastly different. Reading prep books cover-to-cover might work for one person but not another. Prep books can cover theory well, but they don’t help as much when it comes to the hands- on experience required to successfully complete simulations. Generally, it’s best to incorporate study methods that best suit your individual learning style. Books, training courses, practice exams, and online resources are typically the most popular study tools, but they vary greatly in both quality and depth. Exam prep books There are literally hundreds of books available on the subject of Microsoft certification. They range from official Microsoft Press books to unofficial cram guides. When you’re trying to choose the “best” books to read, take the time to read user reviews or look through the books themselves. This should give you an idea of how well the author presents the material and how relevant the information is to your exam. Generally, the Microsoft Self-Paced guides and Sybex books get the best reviews. The ExamCram books have been a popular choice for years, but they typically serve as a final review before an exam, rather than as a comprehensive study guide. Microsoft Press has several books on each exam, but they’re not all the same high quality that the self-paced books tend to be. Training courses Training courses come in a variety of formats and can be an excellent way to learn theory and gain hands-on experience with lab work. However, not all training courses are created equally. Certification training tends to fall into two general arenas: multi- day training courses, often called “boot camps,” and college courses. Training courses generally last about a week and require you to spend eight-hour days at a training center. During those eight hours, you get a wealth of knowledge tossed at you, with some lab work mixed in. Often, these courses include the  |  © Axzo Press, LLC 2012, All Rights Reserved 5
  6. 6. Ten Things You Should Know About Microsoft Certifications of the certification exam, and many even allow you to take the test onsite during the last day of class. College courses follow a completely different format. Usually, the class meets once or twice per week for an entire semester, which typically range from four to six months. There are lectures, labs, and quizzes and tests based on the course material. You receive a grade for your completed work and college credit as well. While not everyone has the luxury of taking a semester-long course, the extensive hands-on lab experience is a bonus. Although training courses usually do offer labs, they don’t offer the extensive lab availability that community college courses can. Training courses can certainly help you pass a test and get certified, but because of their shorter duration and scope, they don’t always offer the same depth of knowledge that semester-long college courses can provide. On the other hand, the shorter duration is often what’s most appealing about these training courses. Naturally, people want to earn their certifications as quickly as possible to solidify and expand their current employment status, or to approach the job market with new credentials. If you go the training center route, which many new and established professionals do, make sure the training provider uses high-quality “If you go the training center training materials. route, which many new and Online resources established professionals do, Due to the popularity of Microsoft exams, there’s a wide range of online resources make sure the training provider available to help test takers study for their exams. You can find free resources for an exam simply by searching for the exam number online. These resources can uses high-quality training include webcasts, study guides, official Microsoft documentation, and forums materials.” where test takers ask and answer general questions about various exams. If you find yourself struggling to understand a concept, you can use these resources to find help. There are also online lectures and walk-throughs available; these tools can help you better understand virtually any certification topic out there. Practice exams Practice exams are a popular method for test takers to gauge how well they understand a topic or concept. Practice exams can also help you determine if you are indeed ready to sit for a specific exam. They are a valuable tool for certification prep, but it’s important to know the difference between the two types of “practice” exams that are widely available on the Internet: • Ethical practice exams: These are designed to have the same look and feel as the real exams. They ask questions that are similar to what you’ll see on an exam, but they’re not identical. MeasureUp and Transcender are two major players in the this field. They offer high-quality practice items that can effectively measure your understanding of the subject matter. Their exams are completely legal in the eyes of Microsoft, and some Microsoft Press materials even include free MeasureUp items. • Brain dumps or cheat exams: These are the shady corner of IT certification. Unscrupulous individuals steal or record real exams and then sell question- and-answer guides on the Internet. As a result, test takers are able to buy cheat sheets and memorize the correct answer for each question. When people cheat their way through an exam in this manner, they don’t need to have any real knowledge about the subject matter. These materials are considered unethical, and using them is considered cheating by  |  © Axzo Press, LLC 2012, All Rights Reserved 6
  7. 7. Ten Things You Should Know About Microsoft Certifications 5 Microsoft Has Harsh Penalties for Cheaters There are serious stakes involved with Microsoft certification, so it’s no surprise that many people attempt to cheat their way to certification. Cheating usually comes in the form of “brain dump” sites that sell or share stolen Microsoft exams. These illegal exam copies are stolen in a variety of ways, but most often the theft occurs at testing centers in Pakistan, India, and China. Unscrupulous testing centers in these countries are infamous for recording testing sessions and then offering copies of new exams for sale in less than 24 hours after they are released. Cheating on certifications is big business Cheating has been a big problem for Microsoft. First, it devalues their certifications. If anyone can download a cheat sheet and pass an exam without extensive knowledge of the subject matter, the integrity of the exam is compromised. Without exam integrity, the entire certification process loses its clout. After all, how are employers supposed to tell if a job applicant took the test honestly or cheated his way through? Then there’s the issue of intellectual property theft. It costs about $150,000 for Microsoft to develop and release a new exam. The folks who steal and sell exam copies are making fistfuls of cash off of Microsoft’s investment. Some people might be inclined to shrug this off because of the size and wealth of Microsoft, but that’s small minded. Besides, Microsoft exams are created and governed by the Microsoft Learning division, which has significantly fewer resources than other divisions of the company. What Microsoft is doing to curb this problem Microsoft Learning employs exam forensics and imposes harsh penalties for those caught cheating. Due to the sensitive nature of the forensics, Microsoft has not divulged the exact nature of their forensics program, but they have stated that they use “statistical evidence” to weed out fraudsters. Additionally, the testing agreement states that candidates can be asked to retest if “any suspected fraudulent activities or anomalous testing patterns” are detected. The terminology is vague, but in the testing world, cheating is usually detected in a couple of ways. First, completing a test faster than it’s possible to read all the questions and answers will usually raise a red flag. If a test taker is completing a two-hour exam in half an hour, this is sure to raise eyebrows. There are many legitimate test takers out there who are fast readers, but even the fastest readers with encyclopedic knowledge of the subject matter cannot complete an exam in less than 20 minutes. The next factor that is examined is the test score itself. While it’s possible to achieve a perfect score on a certification exam, it’s rare. Since this is entirely possible, a perfect score does not indicate a cheater. But when perfect scores combine with abnormally fast test completion, a big red flag goes up. Another tool in the exam forensics toolbox is the use of “seed” questions planted in exams. While Microsoft has not commented on the practice, there are other big names in certification that plant seed questions in their exams. The  |  © Axzo Press, LLC 2012, All Rights Reserved 7
  8. 8. Ten Things You Should Know About Microsoft Certifications questions have answers that are wrong, yet appear as correct answers on popular copies of stolen exams. When test takers answer the questions with the incorrect “Any exam candidate answer shown on the stolen exams, they are flagged for closer scrutiny. who is caught cheating Additionally, some certification companies have publicly stated that they capture the entire testing session and review mouse movements and clicks to catch receives a lifetime ban cheaters. Microsoft has not stated whether or not they do this, but if a test taker from all Microsoft certifications, skips the entire question and clicks directly on the correct answer before moving quickly to the next question, this can be considered evidence of cheating. and any Microsoft certifications The penalties for cheating on a Microsoft exam already held are Microsoft has developed harsher penalties for cheaters in recent years. Any exam permanently revoked.” candidate who is caught cheating receives a lifetime ban from all Microsoft certifications, and any Microsoft certifications already held are permanently revoked. There isn’t much room for argument with these policies, so it’s best simply to avoid the temptation to cheat in any way. Avoid suspicious behavior Unfortunately, even an honest test taker might inadvertently display behavior that is deemed “suspicious” from time to time. Being branded a cheater when you’ve done nothing wrong is a nightmare scenario which can severely damage your IT career. When you’re nervous about taking an exam that has high stakes, you can make innocent mistakes that raise red flags. However, the following tips can help you avoid raising unwarranted red flags: • Take time to thoroughly read each question even if you’re a fast reader. • Do not bring unauthorized items into the testing room. • Keep your eyes planted on your own computer and don’t glance at your neighbors’ computers. • Pay attention to the time left and make an effort to slow down if you’re flying through the exam. • Don’t use brain dumps and other illegal materials to  |  © Axzo Press, LLC 2012, All Rights Reserved 8
  9. 9. Ten Things You Should Know About Microsoft Certifications 6 The Registration and Testing Process Is a Bit Complicated Registering to take a Microsoft exam is the most straightforward part of the certification process, but it’s still somewhat complicated. If you want to take a professional-level Microsoft exam, you need to register with Prometric, the company that provides the proctored exams for Microsoft. There are thousands of Prometric authorized testing centers worldwide, and you can sit for an exam at any qualified testing center offering that specific test. You’re not bound to a particular testing center to complete your certifications. Instead, you can take individual exams at any Prometric location you choose. You register on the Prometric web site for the exam you want to take, and you can select your preferred testing center and desired testing time. First-time test takers are given a Prometric ID during the registration process. This ID remains the same for any additional exams proctored by Prometric. The test fee is typically $150.00 USD per exam. “Microsoft periodically runs The testing process retake promotions called Microsoft exams are administered in a strictly monitored environment on qualified “Second Shot.” When testing center computers. The entire exam is computer-based. The questions can be multiple choice, simulations, hot spots, or drag and drop. Microsoft runs a Second Shot promotion, test takers are When you arrive at the testing center, you need to provide two forms of ID. One of the IDs must be a picture ID, and the other can be a passport, military or allowed to retake the failed employment ID, credit card, or debit card. Both forms of ID must have your exam one time free of charge.” signature on them. No personal items are allowed in the testing room. Wallets, cell phones, purses, and all other belongings must be left at home or stored in a locker during the test. The test center will provide clean scratch paper and a pen or pencil for use during the exam, but these items must be returned at the end of the exam. After you complete the exam, the score and pass/fail status will be displayed on the computer screen, and a copy of the results will be printed at the testing center. If you pass the exam, certification information will be emailed to the address you used to register for the exam. Rescheduling a Microsoft exam If you reschedule or cancel an exam less than 15 days from the exam date, you’ll be charged a fee. If there are more than 15 days until the testing date, you can reschedule or cancel the exam for free. The 15-day window includes weekends and holidays, not just business days. In the United States, the cancellation fee is $35.00. Failing a Microsoft exam Microsoft exams are tough, and failure rates are high, especially among first-time test takers. While it might be dispiriting to fail an exam, it’s very common and you can take the exam again after only a 24-hour waiting period. If an exam is failed a second time through a fifth time, you need to wait two weeks before you can try again. After a fifth failed exam, test takers have to wait 12 months to attempt it  |  © Axzo Press, LLC 2012, All Rights Reserved 9
  10. 10. Ten Things You Should Know About Microsoft Certifications During a waiting period, there are no limits on other Microsoft exams you can take. If you have studied for two exams and you fail the first, you can take the other exam during the waiting period. Normally, if you fail an exam, you have to pay the full $150 to retake it, but Microsoft periodically runs retake promotions called “Second Shot.” When Microsoft runs a Second Shot promotion, test takers are allowed to retake the failed exam one time free of charge. 7 The Exams Are Intentionally Stressful The process of simply preparing for a Microsoft exam can be daunting, but the actual testing experience itself is notoriously challenging and stressful as well. To earn a certification, you need to prove that you can apply your knowledge effectively while under stress. The combination of rigid rules, a strict testing environment, and highly technical testing materials combine to make the exam process fairly grueling. The material you’re tested on is tough, and the time limits imposed for the higher-level exams can seem severe. Also, although testing centers are required to administer the exams on computers that meet Microsoft’s minimum hardware requirements, many testing centers use old and outdated machines that make the entire experience frustrating and nerve wracking. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to be stuck taking an exam on an old machine that lags horribly or that lacks precise mouse control. Time limits and computer capabilities are out of your control, but there are many things you can do to ensure that your testing experience goes as smoothly as possible. Everyone prepares differently, but here are some simple things you can do to help manage your stress: • Make sure you feel confident with your level of preparation. • Don’t go into the exam hungry or thirsty. • Use the washroom before you enter the testing room. • If your computer is laggy or slow, take a deep breath and use that time to mentally review answers you were unsure about. • Use the notepaper provided to jot down information or mnemonic devices you have memorized for the exam. • Jot down the numbers for the items you want to review at the end of the exam. • Go slowly and be sure to completely read each question and answer. • Use the Reset button on simulations to start fresh if you think you’re doing poorly. • Take the time to review your answers at the end of the  |  © Axzo Press, LLC 2012, All Rights Reserved 10
  11. 11. Ten Things You Should Know About Microsoft Certifications 8 Each Certification Path Includes Several Exams Microsoft offers many certification paths. Choosing the right exams for your desired career path can be difficult. If you take exams that you don’t really need, you’ll waste large amounts of time and money. So, it’s important to take a careful look at the available certification paths to develop a personal certification plan that includes only those exams that are relevant to your career goals. Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) The MTA exams are offered mainly to high school and college students as a way to pad résumés or college admission applications. Unlike other Microsoft exams, these are offered by Certiport, not Prometric. A single Certiport exam fee is $47, but testing centers may charge an additional proctor fee. The MTA program is relatively new, so there are not as many testing centers available for these exams as there are for the professional-level exams. The MTA track is divided into two paths: Developer and IT Professional. The IT Professional path is geared toward individuals aspiring to administrative, architect, and infrastructure design careers. The Developer path is geared toward programming, database administrator, and web development careers. Path Title Required Exam Developer Software Development Fundamentals 98-361 Developer Windows Development Fundamentals 98-362 Developer Web Development Fundamentals 98-363 Developer Database Administration Fundamentals 98-364 Developer Microsoft .NET Fundamentals 98-372 IT Professional Networking Fundamentals 98-366 IT Professional Security Fundamentals 98-367 IT Professional Windows Server Administration Fundamentals 98-365 IT Professional Windows Operating System Fundamentals 98-349 Studying for the MTA exams can help you build a solid foundation of knowledge, but keep in mind that the 98-level exams are not prerequisites for higher-level exams and they cannot be used as electives for higher-level certifications. It might be tempting to take one of these relatively easy exams to add a Microsoft title to your résumé, but from a cost/benefit point of view, your training and testing dollars are arguably better spent on the MCTS exams. The cost of the MTA exams is less than half the cost of MCTS exams, but the MTA certifications do not offer the progression benefits required to make them worth the cost and time. MCTS exams are required for higher-level Microsoft certifications, so it’s a better investment of both time and money to prepare for the MCTS exams instead. Microsoft Certification Technical Specialist (MCTS) The MCTS track consists of several exams that count toward higher-level certifications. Each certification in this track counts as part of an MCITP certification. When you work toward higher certifications, you need to pass several exams to earn a desired title. The certification path at the MCTS level is generalized, and each track takes between one and three exams to  |  © Axzo Press, LLC 2012, All Rights Reserved 11
  12. 12. Ten Things You Should Know About Microsoft Certifications Exchange Server Certifications MCTS Title Required Exam Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, Configuration 70-236 Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, Configuration 70-662 Lync Server and Office Communications Server Certifications MCTS Title Required Exam Microsoft Lync Server 2010, Configuration 70-664 Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007, Configuration 70-638 Project and Project Server Certifications MCTS Title Required Exam Microsoft Project Server 2010, Configuration 70-177 Microsoft Project 2010, Managing Projects 70-178 Microsoft Office Project 2007, Managing Projects 70-632 Enterprise Project Management with Microsoft Office Project Server 70-633 2007 Microsoft Office Project Server 2007, Configuration 70-639 SharePoint and SharePoint Server Certifications MCTS Title Required Exam Microsoft SharePoint 2010, Configuration 70-667 Microsoft SharePoint 2010, Application Development 70-573 Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, Application Development 70-542 SQL Server Certifications MCTS Title Required Exam Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Business Intelligence Development and 70-448 Maintenance Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Database Development 70-433 Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Implementation and Maintenance 70-432 System Center Certifications MCTS Title Required Exam Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007, Configuration 70-401 Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007, Configuration 70-400 System Center Data Protection Manager 2007, Configuration 70-658 Virtualization Certifications MCTS Title Required Exam Windows Server 2008 R2, Server Virtualization 70-659 Windows Server 2008 R2, Desktop Virtualization  |  © Axzo Press, LLC 2012, All Rights Reserved 12
  13. 13. Ten Things You Should Know About Microsoft Certifications Visual Studio Certifications MCTS Title Required Exam Microsoft .NET Framework 4, Windows Applications 70-511 Microsoft .NET Framework 4, Web Applications 70-515 Microsoft .NET Framework 4, Service Communication Applications 70-513 Microsoft .NET Framework 4, Data Access 70-516 Microsoft Silverlight 4, Development 70-506 Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010, Administration 70-512 70-536 Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 ADO.NET Applications 70-561 70-536 Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 ASP.NET, Applications 70-562 Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5, Windows Communication Foundation 70-536 Applications 70-503 70-536 Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 Windows Forms Applications 70-505 Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5, Windows Presentation Foundation 70-536 Applications 70-502 Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5, Windows Workflow Foundation 70-536 Applications 70-504 Windows Client Certifications MCTS Title Required Exam Windows 7, Configuration 70-680 Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2010, Deployment 70-681 Windows Vista, Configuration 70-620 Windows Embedded Certifications MCTS Title Required Exam Microsoft Windows Embedded CE 6.0, Development 70-571 Microsoft Windows Embedded Standard 2009, Development 70-577 Microsoft Windows Embedded Standard 7, Development 70-582 Windows Embedded Compact 7 70-181 Windows Server Certifications MCTS Title Required Exam Windows Server 2008 Active Directory, Configuration 70-640 Windows Server 2008 Network Infrastructure, Configuration 70-642 Windows Server 2008 Applications Infrastructure, Configuration 70-643 Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard, Configuration 70-169 Windows Small Business Server 2008, Configuration 70-653 Windows Essential Business Server 2008, Configuration 70-654 Windows Internals 70-660 Windows HPC Server 2008, Development  |  © Axzo Press, LLC 2012, All Rights Reserved 13
  14. 14. Ten Things You Should Know About Microsoft Certifications Certifications for other technologies MCTS Title Required Exam Microsoft BizTalk Server 2010 70-595 Volume Licensing Specialist, Large Organizations 70-672 Volume Licensing Specialist, Small and Medium Organizations 70-671 Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack, Configuration 70-656 Microsoft Forefront Endpoint and Application Protection, Configuration 70-162 Microsoft Office Visio 2007, Application Development 70-545 Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional (MCITP) After the MCTS level, Microsoft certification paths become specialized and more complex. To obtain an MCITP certification, candidates need to decide which specialized path best fits their goals and skills. The available paths are: • Windows Client • Windows Server • SQL Server • Office Project Server • Exchange Server • SharePoint Server • Lync Server In addition to these various paths, there are also different MCITP titles available for specialties within certain paths. For example, the Windows Server path includes three MCITP titles, and the Windows Client path includes two specialties. The exams needed for each path are different, and each path requires a different number of  |  © Axzo Press, LLC 2012, All Rights Reserved 14
  15. 15. Ten Things You Should Know About Microsoft Certifications Number of Required Path Title Exams Exam Enterprise Desktop Support Technician 70-680 Windows Client 2 on Windows 7 70-685 Enterprise Desktop Administrator on 70-680 Windows Client 2 Windows 7 70-686 Core Exams: 70-640 70-642 70-643 Enterprise Administrator on Windows 70-647 Windows Server 5 Server 2008 Electives: 70-620 70-624 70-680 70-681 70-640 Server Administrator on Windows Server Windows Server 3 70-642 2008 70-646 Core Exams: 70-669 Virtualization Administrator on Windows 70-693 Windows Server 3 Server 2008 R2 Electives: 70-659 70-652 70-432 Microsoft SQL Server Database Administrator 2008 2 70-450 70-433 Microsoft SQL Server Database Developer 2008 2 70-451 70-448 Microsoft SQL Server Business Intelligence Developer 2008 2 70-452 70-632 Microsoft Office Enterprise Project Management with 3 70-633 Project Server Microsoft Office Project Server 2007 70-634 Microsoft Enterprise Messaging Administrator on 70-662 2 Exchange Server Exchange 2010 70-663 70-236 Microsoft Enterprise Messaging Administrator on 3 70-237 Exchange Server Exchange 2007 70-238 Microsoft 70-667 SharePoint Administrator 2010 2 SharePoint Server 70-668 70-664 Microsoft Lync Server Lync Server Administrator 2010 2  |  © Axzo Press, LLC 2012, All Rights Reserved 15
  16. 16. Ten Things You Should Know About Microsoft Certifications Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD) The MCPD program is roughly equivalent to the MCITP program, but focuses on software, applications, and web development. Individuals seeking MCPD certification titles are typically at a career level similar to those who pursue the MCITP certifications. The MCPD paths are: • Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 • Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 • Windows Phone • Microsoft SharePoint 2010 • Microsoft Silverlight Developer 4 Number of Required Path Title Exams Exam 70-511 Microsoft Visual Windows Developer 4 on Visual Studio 70-513 4 Studio 2010 2010 70-516 70-518 70-515 Microsoft Visual 70-513 Web Developer 4 on Visual Studio 2010 4 Studio 2010 70-516 70-519 70-513 Microsoft Visual Azure Developer on Visual Studio 2010 3 70-516 Studio 2010 70-583 70-536 Microsoft Visual Windows Developer 3.5 on Visual Studio 3 70-505 Studio 2008 2008 70-563 70-536 Microsoft Visual ASP.NET Developer 3.5 on Visual Studio 3 70-562 Studio 2008 2008 70-564 70-536 70-505 Microsoft Visual Enterprise Application Developer 3.5 on 70-562 6 Studio 2008 Visual Studio 2008 70-561 70-503 70-565 70-506 Windows Phone Windows Phone Developer 3 70-516 70-599 Microsoft 70-573 SharePoint Developer 2010 2 SharePoint 2010 70-576 70-506 Microsoft 70-513 Silverlight Developer 4 4 Silverlight 4 70-516  |  © Axzo Press, LLC 2012, All Rights Reserved 16
  17. 17. Ten Things You Should Know About Microsoft Certifications 9 The Highest Levels of Certification Have the Greatest Benefits Every Microsoft certification you obtain has value, but not all certifications will equally affect your earning potential. Holding several low-level certifications might look impressive on your résumé, but you’re unlikely to see significant salary increases unless you strive for the higher levels of certification. MTA and MCTS are good starting points, but if you’re committed to working with Microsoft technology, you should actively work toward MCITP certification and higher. As the previous tables show, the MCITP title can be earned by taking exams that pertain to a dedicated subject area. MCITP certification is currently the highest level of the widely available Microsoft certifications, but it’s not the highest level of certification that Microsoft offers. You can also attain MCM or MCA certification—two elite certifications that can help take your IT career to the highest level of responsibility and salary. Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) MCM is the next level of certification that Microsoft offers. Unlike the lower “After the presentation and certification levels, obtaining the MCM title takes more than just passing an exam. After passing the required prerequisite exams, candidates for this title must ensuing interrogation, the pass a rigorous review process. Candidates have to apply for admission to the review board then privately MCM program and provide their résumés alongside supporting documentation. Some candidates have to attend classes held by Microsoft that are specific to discusses and rates you on their desired MCM realm. All candidates have to pass comprehensive lab exams, your performance. If you are which are similar to the ones required for Cisco’s CCIE certification. Finally, if your credentials hold up under the scrutiny of Microsoft’s review board, you are found lacking in any of the awarded your MCM title. certification domains, you will Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA) not earn the MCA certification” MCA is Microsoft’s highest certification. The MCA program is even more rigorous than the MCM program; to be considered for the MCA title, candidates must first have an MCM certification. MCA candidates must prepare a comprehensive case study and present it to Microsoft’s MCA board. The board scrutinizes the study and presentation and then questions the candidate extensively. Board members expect highly technical answers and a professional performance on par with the level of certification at stake. After the presentation and ensuing interrogation, the review board then privately discusses and rates you on your performance. If you are found lacking in any of the certification domains, you will not earn the MCA certification. The harsh requirements of both the MCM and MCA programs have resulted in only a small number of IT professionals earning these titles. Both titles carry a high level of prestige, and they both translate to high salary  |  © Axzo Press, LLC 2012, All Rights Reserved 17
  18. 18. Ten Things You Should Know About Microsoft Certifications 10 Microsoft Certifications Have a Complex Lifecycle Microsoft certification exams are continuously edited and updated to remove stale questions and add fresh, relevant ones. Questions that focus on older technologies are consistently retired. However, it’s important to note that Microsoft certifications have long shelf lives when compared to some other certifications. The certification titles you can earn by passing Microsoft exams do not expire. If you earn a Microsoft title, that title is yours for life. However, as Microsoft technology evolves, Microsoft periodically changes the certification titles. For example, the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, or MCSE, was the reigning top title for Microsoft certification for over a decade. When Microsoft revamped their OS offerings and released Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista, and Exchange Server 2007, they changed their certification titles to the new MCTS and MCITP tracks. This allowed Microsoft to easily differentiate legacy certification holders from those who were certified on the newer technologies. This trend has created a definitive lifecycle for Microsoft certifications. The certifications may not expire per se, but they can grow stale as new certification titles are created. Even though you retain a Microsoft title for life, that does not mean you should not pursue new certifications in the future. If Microsoft technologies are vital to your career path, you should keep your certifications up to date if your goal is to reach the highest levels of responsibility and salary in your field. Christine Brandt Christine is an IT security professional with over 10 years of experience in the field. Her certifications include A+, Net+, MCSE, MCTS, CCNP +S, CCSP, CISSP, and  |  © Axzo Press, LLC 2012, All Rights Reserved 18