So if you’re in the technology realm, you’re probably thinking, ‘I need a Microsoft certification to get a job, but I don’t know which one I should get’. Really, it comes down to what you want to do out in the real world, it’s as simple as that. Over the last few years, Microsoft, for whatever reason, keep changing the names of their certifications, and there are so many certifications that they offer.
Obviously geographic issues, and supply and demand can impact what employers are seeking. Usually you’ll want to get certified in a desktop Windows operating system or a server operating system. If you want to want to work as a help desk in a workplace environment, get a certification for Windows Desktop. If you want to deal with Server administration in an organization, get your certification in Windows Server.
Now I’ll discuss the technical certifications in terms of Windows Server and Desktop. The basic entry-level certification you can get is an MTA, a Microsoft Technology Associate, this basically covers fundamentals, a foundation to improve. As of this time in writing (2014), in terms of Desktop certifications, the highest certification you can get is the MCSA, this is the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate certification. This was known as the MCITP for Windows 7, but as of January 2014, they have now changed it to the MCSA. With Server, you can get your MTA, MCSA, and finally, your MCSE. Getting your MSCA is a good starting point.
This comprises of 3 exams which include:
Installing and Configuring Windows Server
Administering Windows Server
Configuring Advanced Windows Server
This is how it is, at this time of writing in 2014. It’s always beneficial to get your MCSE, which is 2 more exams on top of the first 3 you do when you get your MCSA. MCSE stands for Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert. The positive with getting your MCSE, is that it’s the highest Microsoft qualification (in Windows Server) and it’s a globally recognized qualification, so you can potentially get a job anywhere in the world. Once again, if you mainly want to deal with Servers, then you get your MCSE in Server Infrastructure.
As to whether you get certifications in older technologies, like Windows 7, or Windows Server 2008 is up to you, but in the technology field, ask yourself, ‘Will an employer hire me if I have old/outdated certifications’? It’s unlikely that they will, so it’s worthwhile getting the latest certifications.
In terms of pricing, the exams at this time, cost around $206 each. If you already happen to have a job, let’s say as a help desk, ask your employer if they can pay for these exams. Microsoft even has a ‘convince your boss’ link, so certainly give that a go. If you pay for it, you can claim it as a tax deduction, depending on your tax legislation in your country.
Overall, if I had to recommend one Microsoft certification, I’d say get the MCSE in Server Infrastructure. People in help desk are a dime a dozen, but server administrators are a bit more difficult to come by. The pay package is also a lot more attractive too. Also if you have a server qualification, it’s already assumed you understand general desktop user interface, so it’s much more worthwhile to get your MCSA in Server, and then upgrade to your MCSE.
The only real quirk with getting Microsoft certified is that you generally need experience in the technology you want to get certified in. So sometimes just reading may not exactly put you in good stead to pass the exam. As for preparing for your exams, it’s always helpful to buy the Microsoft books, do the exercises and questions at the end of each chapter. There are plenty of study guides online, and CBT Nuggets have a massive database of videos, with which you pay a yearly fee to get unlimited access, and this can help you on your way to getting your qualifications.
Hope you found this informative, and any further questions, feel free to put a comment down below.