Microsoft certifications are a great way to validate your skills and show potential employers that you know what you’re doing. The more Microsoft certs you earn, the better qualified for higher-paying jobs in the tech industry. You may be wondering how to get started with this process? Luckily, there are the requirements that will help you figure out if it’s possible for you!
1. Get to Know the Microsoft Certification Levels
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Depending on your base knowledge, experience and goals, there are several levels of certification that you can pursue. Until recently, the most well-known certifications were from Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE). However, with increased demands in cloud computing and other technological advancements, new designations have been introduced for IT professionals who want to prove their abilities. Here is a breakdown of what these levels mean:
- Entry-level certification for individuals without previous experience in a related field who want to demonstrate their beginning-level skills in a specific technology area.
- These designations typically target an individual with 2-3 years of experience in his or her field, and as such, they validate entry-level skills as you learn more about working as an IT professional.
- This kind of advanced certification is meant for individuals who’ve worked at least 6 years in the IT field and acquired five or more years of professional consulting experience.
- Also referred to as “architect” certifications. They are aimed at senior-level professionals who want to prove their mastery in a specific technology area. Candidates must show a minimum of 8 years of experience and demonstrate deep technical expertise in multiple products or technologies within a solution area such as server infrastructures, data platforms, or analytics software.
- These certifications look for individuals with 10 years’ worth of experience, including 5 years designing the whole Microsoft stack with solutions that are fully integrated.
- This most elite level of Microsoft certification Australia focuses on candidates who possess 12 years of experience in the field, including 7 years of professional consulting experience.
2. Identify your Route to Certification
As you can see by the requirements above, there’s no one single path to earning certification from Microsoft or other vendors. If you’re just starting out and looking at entry-level certifications such as those offered by CompTIA or Microsoft, you’ll want to focus on obtaining certification in the core competencies of your profession.
For example, if you’re an IT administrator focused on networking skills, consider earning a Network+ or other Networking certifications. As for senior-level certifications aimed at individuals with 8 to 10 years of experience, they are usually composed of two components:
- A required set of exams around broad technology areas including servers, storage, and networks which are built upon previous certification levels
- A complementary set of exams that validate how to implement and design business solutions via Microsoft technologies
Determine How You’ll Train For Certification If you’re just starting out in the IT field, know that earning vendor-specific certifications is about passing a series of proctored exams that can be purchased through vendors such as Transcender or Kryterion. If you’re more experienced, consider attending seminars or training classes at venues like Koenig Solutions, Global Knowledge, or Sysco Systems.
For your studying needs make sure to join forums like CertMag, an online community where certified individuals share study tips and advice; take advantage of coaching services offered by companies like BICSI (a consultant group focused on helping other consultants earn their designations) or register for virtual courses offered by TestOut, TrainACE and others.
3. Know What you’re Getting Into
When researching certifications, take time to review the career advances that specific certification credentials can bring about given your current professional experience. For example, if you’re an IT manager with 7 years of experience, it would be wise to consider earning an MCTS-level certification rather than concentrating on Microsoft’s more senior level of MCITP designation; doing so could help you earn a significant raise or promotion since MCTS certifications are aimed at professionals who implement business solutions using Microsoft platforms (instead of design solutions like the MCITP).
As for other vendor-specific exams such as Cisco’s CCIE Security certification, you’ll want to consider taking that exam if you’ve already earned and can justify the cost of another CCIE certification (design or specialist) and use the Security credential as a springboard to launch your security career since it’s aimed at networking professionals with 7 years experience.
4. Get Certified
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As I said at the beginning of this article, there’s no better proof or indicator that you know what you’re doing than having an official third-party certification from an industry leader like Microsoft or Cisco. As you advance your IT career, don’t be afraid to rethink some of your professional choices including switching teams within your current organization or changing employers for more suitable opportunities.
Always keep in mind, however, that certifications are just one component of a successful IT career and that no matter how many industry-standard credentials you possess, if you don’t have the necessary experience or skills, you won’t be able to get your dream job.