Microsoft Certifications: Do They Mean for Your Care

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Evolution is a constant theme in the IT profession. New technologies, job responsibilities and functions are introduced all the time. To keep up with the rapid pace of change, Microsoft recently restructured its certification programs.

Rather than offering the widely recognized yet lengthy list of certifications (from Microsoft Certified Application Developer to Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) the company has reduced its catalog to just three series: Architect, Professional and Technology.

As readers of Certification Magazine, many of you already hold Microsoft certifications or are in the process of completing them. You likely have seen how valuable the previous generation of Microsoft designations can be perceived by hiring managers, so you might have some concerns about the changes.

The following are some common questions about the new Microsoft certifications and what they mean for your career.

What are the New Certifications?
Here’s an overview of the new generation of Microsoft certifications:

 

  • Technology Series. Technology Series certifications are intended for individuals who have an in-depth understanding of a specific Microsoft technology. Specialty certifications will be retired based on whether mainstream support is available for a particular technology. One to three exams typically are required to earn each designation, and the tests’ entire focus is on technical expertise.
  • Professional Series. The Professional Series certification goes beyond technical knowledge and validates a range of skills necessary for success in an IT position, including design, deployment, operations management and planning. Two options are available based on the job role: Microsoft Certified IT Professional and Microsoft Certified Professional Developer. Practitioners typically must pass one to three exams in addition to having a prerequisite technology specialist certification, and recertification is required every three years.
  • Architect Series. The Microsoft Certified Architect program is a far more rigorous program. Candidates demonstrate their knowledge and skills by creating architectures that solve complex business problems and then present their solutions to a review board of peer architects. The certification is limited to individuals with 10 or more years of experience in the IT profession (including at least three years of experience as an architect). Those pursuing the credential must work closely with a Microsoft Certified Architect mentor. Recertification is required every three years.

What if I’m Working Toward or Already Have One of the Old Certifications?
Your previous certifications still will carry weight. If you are preparing to earn a longstanding Microsoft certification, you should continue with your plans. The old program works in tandem with the new generation of certifications, and all will continue to be supported by Microsoft.

Regardless of what type of IT certification you pursue, you set yourself apart from others in the field by earning an industry-recognized designation.

These credentials show potential employers that you are familiar with a particular technology or practice, providing extra assurance you are an expert in the areas listed on your resume. A certification also demonstrates you have the motivation and drive to follow through with a professional goal.

The most valuable certifications, however, are those that are combined with on-the-job experience. CIOs want to hire individuals with a record of successful projects. Consequently, they seek candidates who not only possess the right technological skills but also know how to put those skills to practical use to deliver timely, quality results.

Katherine Spencer Lee is executive director of Robert Half Technology. She can be reached at editor (at) certmag (dot) com.

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