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What are the Different Types of Microsoft® Certification?

Hillary Flynn
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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Obtaining Microsoft® certification can boost your career opportunities by proving competence in a technical subject or application. The certifications available fall under the following categories: Desktop Support, Technology, Professional, Master, and Architect. Each category has a number of specific areas and each area requires applicants to pass an examination. Along with credentials to add to your resume, Microsoft® Certification also allows certificate holders access to information and resources to which they would otherwise not be privy.

Microsoft® certification in Desktop Support demonstrates abilities in Microsoft® Office applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access. This certification benefits business professionals who use basic office software to perform everyday tasks. Certifications available are Microsoft® Office Specialist (MOS) and Microsoft® Certified Application Professional (MCAP). The Microsoft® Office Specialist certification covers Microsoft® Office 2000, XP, and 2003. The Microsoft® Certified Application Professional certification covers Microsoft® Office 2007 and Windows Vista.

The Technology Series offers the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) technical certification in more than 30 areas. Some examples are .NET Framework, SQL Server, Windows Server, and SharePoint services. These certifications are appropriate for information technology professionals who configure, troubleshoot, and maintain systems. In addition to passing the certification exam, candidates must also have at least one year of experience.

Microsoft® certification in the Professional Series offers certification that falls under two umbrellas: Microsoft® Certified IT Professional (MCITP) and Microsoft® Certified Professional Developer (MCPD). The MCITP certification validates ability to work with specific Microsoft® technologies. The MCPD certification proves competence as a developer for Visual Studio and .NET Framework. In addition to passing the certification exam, one must also have technology specialist certification.

Microsoft® Certified Master (MCM) certification is for experts in the information technology industry, and it requires specialized training by Microsoft® professional staff. Relevant scenarios are used for work in both labs and lecture classes. Training lasts three weeks and students take three tests and one comprehensive exam. This is the certification for top level designers and solution experts. The specific areas are Exchange Server, Windows Server, SQL Server, Office SharePoint Server, and Office Communications Server.

Microsoft® Certified Architect (MCA) is the highest level of certification that can be achieved. It requires many years of experience, MCM Certification, and a review board interview. Those seeking MCA credentials must prove expert competency in many technical areas. Candidates can select from either the Technology Program track, or the Infrastructure Program track.

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Hillary Flynn
By Hillary Flynn , Writer
Hillary Flynn's insatiable curiosity led her to join the Practical Adult Insights team, where she contributes well-researched articles on various topics. In addition to her work with Practical Adult Insights, Hillary manages an electronic publishing business that allows her to develop her skills in technical writing, graphic design, and business development. With a passion for satirical writing and traveling to historical places, Hillary brings a distinctive voice to her content.

Discussion Comments

By Sunny27 — On Jun 09, 2011

@Cupcake15 - I understand what you are saying, but for the average person that does not have any experience in the technology field this might be a great start. I had a friend who got certification training from Microsoft in order to be a trainer and she not only loves her job know, but is making great money.

You would be surprised at the demand to teach Microsoft applications. She says that her students are so grateful because she has a lot of patience. There are a lot of certification courses that you can take, but you just have to find one that compliments your background. I read that trainers with this MCT certification can earn up to $90,000 a year.

By cupcake15 — On Jun 08, 2011

I wanted to add that I used to be a technical recruiter for an information technology staffing firm and the applicants that had the MCSE certification along with a few years of experience in the field were the most marketable.

In fact, our company offers tuition assistance for applicants that we hired on a contract basis so that they could continually upgrade their skills.

I will also say that we had a number of applicants that wanted to break into the information technology field via a Microsoft certification path, but unfortunately we were not able to place these people in jobs because they needed to have practical hands on experience before our clients would give them an opportunity.

The only entry level jobs that we had were help desk first level support that involved a formal training program. This client offered a training program to candidates that they felt had the potential to become successful and many of the candidates had to prove themselves in the training program by obtaining a minimum of an 80% to stay in the program.

We did have some people that did not make it through, but most did. I think that getting certification training is a great idea, but you also have to develop some experience before your certifications will pay off.

Hillary Flynn

Hillary Flynn


Hillary Flynn's insatiable curiosity led her to join the Practical Adult Insights team, where she contributes well-...
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