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.