To certify or not to certify, that is the question! Shakespeare didn’t know a thing about Microsoft technology, but I have to believe that many of you out there are in a bit of a quandary when it comes to your Microsoft education. With all their recent announcements about the new MCSE and MCSA certifications along with the retirement of existing exams AND changes in the new exam structure, some of you may be scratching your head and feeling a bit vexed.
Since news and updates continue to trickle out of Redmond, the story will be changing, and you should try to stay up to date on what’s announced. But what I can say for certain is that if you’re in the process of getting your MCITP or MCTS, there is still value for you as an IT professional in continuing down that path.
First, even though technology always moves forward, older Microsoft platforms are still being used today, YEARS after it comes out. Do a search on any job board for Windows Server 2008 or Sharepoint 2007, and you will still get plenty of hits. In some ways, supporting older Microsoft technology can continue to be a career differentiator because there are less people who are “experts” in an older platform. Don’t laugh, but a search for “Novell server” on a major job board still turned up 100+ hits! Given the workhorse capabilities of many Microsoft platforms, they will continue to be in use years down the road. As anyone who’s walked in and seen Windows XP on a corporate desktop, you know what I mean. So if your company uses older Microsoft technology, the MCTS and MCITP still have value for you.
Second, the MCTS and MCITP can act as spring-boards to the next generation of Microsoft certifications. The general structure of the new Microsoft certifications is three exams for your MCSA and two exams for your MCSE (note: the MCSD is structured slightly differently). However, there will be upgrade paths for existing MCTS’ and MCITP’s. For example, if you’re an MCITP: Server Administrator or Enterprise Administrator, that’s equal to the MCSA: Server 2008 and you only need two exams for your MCSE: Private Cloud. If you’re an MCTS: SQL Server 2008, you save yourself one exam for MCSA: SQL Server 2012. And if you’re an MCITP: DB Administrator 2008 or DB Developer 2008 you’ll only need three upgrade exams to get your MCSE: Data Platform. So yes, there still is value to your MCTS and MCITP unless you plan on retiring next year!
In the end, Microsoft training and certification always depends on your personal and professional goals. Are you looking to stay in your current job and need to do more? Are you looking for new opportunities and need some credibility for a job search? Do you have time to study for certification exams on your own, or do you need help from a professional training organization? The answers will change over the course of your career based upon needs and resource constraints (time, money). But in the end I think we all know that if you’re not moving forward in today’s technology world, you’re moving backwards. IT talent is now available on a global scale and so is your competition. Shakespeare once wrote, “Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness,” words which have never been truer today.