Microsoft Certifications

Microsoft certifications have, yet again, gone through a major overhaul in recent times in order to, according to Microsoft, reflect current trends in the I.T. industry. Gone are the last 'new generation certifications' in order to make way for the next wave of 'new generation certifications'. In doing so Microsoft have resurrected some familiar acronyms - namely MCSE and MCSA - but they don't have the same nostalgic meaning that they used to. MCSE now stands for Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert, while the MCSA becomes the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate.

Gone also is the focus on job-role specific certifications. Now candidates can gain credentials directly related to specific Microsoft technologies, such as SQL Server or Directory Services.

So, to sum up the latest Microsoft certification vista, Microsoft now offer certifications across 5 different technology groups with three distinct levels of expertise.

The 5 technology areas (with their sub-sections) are:
  • Server - Windows Server, Exchange Server, Lync, SharePoint, Directory Services

  • Desktop - Windows

  • Applications - Office, Office 365, Microsoft Dynamics

  • Database - SQL Server

  • Developer - Visual Studio, Windows Phone, SharePoint Applications

And the three levels of expertise are:

Master - MCSM (Microsoft Certified Solutions Master)
These are the highest level certifications that Microsoft offer, demonstrating top-level expert knowledge of particular Microsoft technologies.
Expert - MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert)
Specialist technology certifications aimed at demonstrating in-depth knowledge of specific Microsoft technologies.
Associate - MCSA (Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate)
These are the foundation level certifications, mainly aimed at those involved with first-line support of typical Microsoft technologies and systems.

The typical entry point on the Microsoft certification ladder for most candidates would be at the Associate or Expert level. But for those with little to no I.T. experience who are looking for an absolute entry-level certification, Microsoft have a cert for you in the name of the Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA).

So what this means is that there are a number of different credentials that you can earn depending on the particular technological niche you choose and the level of expertise that you are aiming for. Here are the credentials currently offered by Microsoft (click on each link for more information):

Pre-Associate Level Associate Level Expert Level Master Level Post-Master Level