Q: How can I become Microsoft Certified Professional?
Q: What are the available certification tracks for me?
Q: I am a web developer, How can I prepare for MCTS exams?
Q: Which paper do I have to clear to become SharePoint Administrator?
These are some of the most frequently asked questions to me by Industry Professionals via email or forums or community events. If you have been following my blog posts, I have written a kind of introductory post on “Getting Started with Microsoft Certification” back in 2009. Since things have changed slightly by now, so I thought may its good time to re-write on this topic.
In this post I will be answering some of the questions above. This would help, at least me, in sharing such frequently asked information to IT Professionals or Developers working on Microsoft Technologies and are interested in becoming Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP).
Chances are that, if you are reading this blog post, you already have some idea about the what Microsoft Certifications are and so I am not going into introductory detail which you can also check from my previous blog posts LINK-1 and LINK-2.
Recommend Paths and Audience
The very first thing I would like to make clear is that for different level of audience, there are different set of certifications available. Refer to image below which depicts the suitable track for you based on your level. For example, if you have more than 3 years of experience in development solutions using Microsoft Technology then recommended track for you is Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD) or if you are entry level professional with 1-2 years of experience then Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) is the right track for you.
Plus within these levels, there are further exams available based on particular technology. For example, MCTS: Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 – Configuration or MCTS: Microsoft .NET Framework 4, Web Applications etc. You must target your relevant track considering your background, experience and career ambitions.
Experience vs. Certifications [A Great Debate]
Yes I do agree that experienced professional is somehow more worthy however I would say that neither Certifications without Experience is good nor Experience without Certification is perfect instead they both are BEST when balanced together.
Consider certifications as a way to validate your skills and/or for your own learning, just clearing exams without grip on the technology won’t give you anything. I have personally completed Microsoft Certification Professional Developer (MCPD) track with experience and it has benefited me especially in terms of knowledge or skill set.
So bottom line is certification and work experience are best when balanced together. However required experience varies depending on the level of certifications.
Preparation and Testing:
Usually, Training Kits and online/offline course trainings are available for each exams BUT I would strongly encourage proper hands on before giving exams. For details on preparation, visit here.
Exams are usually MCQs and Case Study based out of which you have to score 70%. Total number of question varies from exam to exam but usually its around 40-75.
For testing, Prometric Centers are available worldwide on which you can register yourself online. Cost varies from region to region, typically from $85-150 per exam. Please note that photo identities such as Driving License or Passport or Identification Card are required on the day of exam. For details on registration, visit here.
References and Further Readings:
I hope this information would be helpful to IT Pro/Developers interested in Microsoft Certification. Still, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or ask a question on “MSDN Training and Certification Forum”.