MCP Credentials and Certifications

Microsoft Corporation offers a way for working professionals and even novice users to become more proficient in the products they offer. Areas in which you can become a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) include development, home and office use, training and more. Learn more about the certifications available, prerequisites and how to renew your certification. Schools offering Computer Support Technician degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Aspiring Microsoft Certified Professionals (MCPs) have many options for earning certification. Microsoft offers several different certifications within the MCP path, including certifications for beginning and advanced IT professionals, home and office users, developers and trainers. An example of a beginning IT professional certification would be the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) designation. With this certification, you can demonstrate your knowledge of or expertise in Windows, Visual Studio, SQL Server and other related technologies.

Certification Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS), Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD), Microsoft Certified Office Specialist (MOS), Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT)
Online Options Exam taken at an approved testing center, exam prep can be done online; some Web-based Microsoft courses are available
Training Demonstrate knowledge of Windows, Visual Studio, SQL Server and other related technologies; business skills in Microsoft Office and Windows operating systems; learn to train developers and IT professionals

What Are the Other Routes for Certification?

An example of a developer certification would be the Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD) designation. This designation shows that you have acquired the skills necessary to perform certain tasks related to the design, development and deployment of applications such as SharePoint and Visual Studio. An advanced IT certification would be the Microsoft Certified Master designation, which shows employers you've mastered designing and implementing complex business solutions.

What Other Options Exist?

The home and office user category has only one certification, the Microsoft Certified Office Specialist (MOS). MOS is recognized worldwide and demonstrates your advanced business skills in the area of Microsoft Office as well as Windows operating systems, such as XP and Vista. Lastly, earning the Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) designation demonstrates your ability to train developers and IT professionals.

Are There Any Prerequisites?

Most of these certifications require you to have experience prior to taking the exam. For example, earning the MCTS certification requires at least one year of experience in executing, tweaking and troubleshooting Windows, SQL Server and other Microsoft technologies. To earn the MCPD certification, you'll need 2-3 years of experience developing .NET Framework and Visual Studio solutions. Some certifications, such as the MOS, don't require any prior experience at all. In fact, you can earn this certification while attending college.

Can I Take the Certification Exam Online?

The exam will need to be taken at an approved testing center, but you can prepare for the exams online. Some certification prep programs are available entirely online while others offer a blended format, combining online learning with face-to-face learning. Those that offer a blended format provide access to Web-based Microsoft courses.

Will I Need to Renew My Certification?

You won't need to renew your certifications, as you do in other professions, but the certifications do have the potential to become outdated. Once this happens, you'll need to upgrade your certification. Upgrading usually means less testing is involved, especially when you're earning certification in a newer version of a technology for which you've already been certified. For example, earning MCPD certification on Visual Studio 2005 requires taking at least three exams, but when you upgrade to Visual Studio 2008, you'll only need to take one exam.

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