By Ralph La Fontaine, Development Manager at Home Learning College
Ralph La Fontaine is an IT educationalist with 14 years experience of delivering and managing IT training programmes for government and private industry.
Love them or loathe them Microsoft Certifications top most polls of IT certifications when it comes to popularity and employability benefits. Whether we like it or not the business world still runs predominantly on Microsoft technology, so being certified is an easy way for employers to have confidence in your skills across a broad range of technologies.
Of course, anyone who has embarked on an MCSE will tell you this should not be taken lightly. These are big certification involving multiple exams. The problem with these accreditations has often been that they are such a major undertaking that candidates are put off by their size and the prospect of having to go through the whole thing again when the certification is retired. Here’s the good news: Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) is more accessible because it is built from smaller Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certifications which are respected and recognised in their own right, thus making it a more approachable, flexible and rewarding pathway.
But what of the MCSE? Could we be witnessing the final chapter in the life of the trusted old war horse that first began way back with Windows NT 3.1? Well as anyone who has dared to enter the obscure world of Microsoft Professional Certifications will tell you, clarity and straight talking are not always to be found in abundance. Nevertheless, it is with some sadness that I can confidently say that, although the MCSE certification will still have currency in the industry for many years to come, it will not be updated to cover new technology upgrades. This is because Microsoft is adopting a policy of replacing the big certifications with a plethora of smaller more narrowly focused awards, as with the MCITP.
The two most commonly known and popular MCITP certifications are Server Administrator on Windows 2008 and Enterprise Administrator on Windows 2008. A question that is often asked is whether these two new MCITP certifications are replacements for, or equivalent to, MCSA and MCSE. The answer is no, because it is all about the technology! MCSA and MCSE are built around Windows Server 2003 and Microsoft has clearly stated that they will not be releasing an MCSE for Windows Server 2008. If you want to be certified on the newer technologies, such as Windows Server 2008, then it has to be through the MCITP track.
So what does all this mean? Firstly, unless you have a very good reason you should not be starting an MCSA or MCSE now. Instead, look at the new MCITP Windows Server 2008 certification. Secondly, if you are already studying for an MCSA or MCSE do not panic. Microsoft has provided upgrade paths, and training providers like Home Learning College will be responding to demand for upgrade awards. Whilst the MCITP on Windows Server 2008 does require new skill sets, the baseline knowledge you will have acquired through MCSA and MCSE is highly transferrable.
So, while it may be farewell to MCSA and MCSE, the new MCITP certification is a real step forward, offering greater flexibility, a tighter focus on particular technology specialisations and an overall training and certification experience that is mapped to an actual job role.
Got a question for Ralph? Need career advice? Feel free to leave your questions and comments below.