I got my first Microsoft certification for my second job. I was looking for a promotion but ended up getting laid off. Contract work can be rough like that. I applied for a new job as a systems administrator but they turned me down. It was a contract that required any of the Microsoft certifications in operating systems or servers. I had to learn how Microsoft’s certification tier system worked. There were a few options I had to research. Eventually I passed the MTA for Windows Operating System Fundamentals. I was able to get the same job when they opened a second requisition.
Mta? MCP? What’s that?
The Microsoft Certified Professional is awarded for anyone who has passed any Microsoft test. Microsoft has three tiers of certifications, MTA, MCSA, MCSE. The entry level tier is the Microsoft Technology Associate, and there are several choices. At the time I took my test, I had more experience with my home windows and doing troubleshoot/repair work. I chose the Windows Operating System Fundamentals. Other options include software development, database, windows server, networking, security, mobility, cloud, and html5 development. Microsoft also has intro to programming tests in block chain, Python, Java and HTML. This test level costs 125 to take. There are many options, and each of them is equal. If your goal is to get a job as a System Administrator, this is a great level for you to achieve.
Level 2: MCSA
You don’t have to get your MTA first before attempting an MCSA exam. There are even more options at this level, but they get into very specific categories. For instance, there is both a Windows Server 2012 and a Windows Server 2016 MCSA. There is a SQL Server 2012, and a SQL Server 2016 variant. Each of these certifications have several exams required to pass prior to achieving the MCSA certification. The Windows Server 2012 requires you to pass 3 tests. 70-410 is the Installing and Configuring test, 70-411 is the Administering test, and 70-412 is the Configuring Advanced test. This level of test costs 165. Passing any one of these tests will also grant you MCP as discussed earlier. Achieving the MCSA takes determination and willpower because of the higher level of difficulty required to pass 3 tests versus only 1.
Level 3: MCSE
MCSE certifications are the top-tier and difficult tests to pass. Microsoft wants people who do pass to be experts in their field. You must first have an MCSA certification and then pass an additional technology certification to qualify for MCSE. The available technologies to test on are Business Applications, Cloud, Data Management, Mobility, or Productivity. This level of test costs 165. I have never met someone with these certifications, but I moved out of system administration and into security and don’t meet many sysads. If you really want to get a Senior System Administrator job or be considered a Microsoft subject matter expert, this is the way to go.
Microsoft certifications can add real value to your resume, but they are a little more difficult to study for. I recommend that if you have some experience with Microsoft products that you try to get the MTA for that product. Having a Microsoft certification will make you look better than people that don’t have them, obviously. Every little bit helps in that regard, and Microsoft certifications are not very expensive at the entry level. I will be adding reviews of study guides in the future for certification exams.
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