Tags: .NET certification, 2.0, drive-thru, fries, MCAD, MCPD, MCSD, MCTS, super-size, upgrade exams, Visual Studio 2005
Editor’s note: In honor of the real Turkey Day, here’s the follow-up to Josh’s previous post detailing trends in Microsoft’s .NET certification paths.
If there’s one thing in which to have faith in this downward-spiraling economy, it’s two basic drives of the human soul: the entrepreneurial spirit, and the love of fast food. Ray Kroc would be a good example of such a spirit. Starting as a small-time franchisee of the little-known McDonald’s restaurant in 1953, Mr. Kroc would later take over the restaurant chain from brothers Dick and Mac McDonald and build a multi-billion dollar empire based on busy people’s need for cheap, highly fat-saturated food, served right to the window of your car while idling on precious gas fumes. Okay, uh, let’s drive through that example…
With more cars stalled on the economic highway, IT certification has become more valuable.* As fewer lanes are opening up, the need to merge into existing traffic has become even more treacherous. How do you stretch your certification bucks, with times being what they are? After seeing the banquet of .NET certification options spread out on the table (see previous post), overflowing with casseroles of TS (Technology Specialist) and PD (Professional Developer) certifications, you’re probably wondering if there’s a something akin to a certification drive-thru: quick, cheap, and highly saturated.
If you have the know-how (and a good practice test like Transcender) but not the stomach for a buffet, .NET upgrade exams just may be the answer. Since breaking down the MCAD and MCSD certification into the smaller TS and PD dishes, Microsoft has also been steadily building upgrade exams to ease the transition. The 550 series exams are value meals that provide instant certification gratification for those with the appetite. These upgrade exams are also cheaper than the full-length TS and PD exams, being only $75 apiece (that’s 40% off the original price).
(Click the diagram for a larger image.)
Tags: Certification Paths, MCA, MCITP, MCM, MCPD, MCTS
Having outlined the basic types of IT certification exams, I’m now going tackle the current status of Microsoft certifications. This is directed at those of you who have been certified in the past and are thinking of brushing up, as well as first-time cert-seekers.
Roughly two years ago, Microsoft drastically altered their piece of the certification landscape. The monolithic and sought-after flagship brand certification, the MCSE, was replaced by a bewildering (to some) array of “job specific” certifications. Some IT professionals, career counselors, and employers are still trying to get a handle on this new series of certifications, which was revised again last month with the introduction of the Certified Master concept.
According to Microsoft, industry data showed that hiring managers disliked the MCSE concept, complaining that a MCSE title did not specify where, in the array of Microsoft products, a job seeker was actually proficient. To address this problem, MS created a new certification path designed to allow “specializations.” Without digging too deeply into all the certifications available (including upgrades and phase-outs), let’s look at the basic structure as it now stands.
The new series is organized in four levels meant to represent increasing capabilities in the technology. (There are four, even though they are represented in a three-tier graphic on the Microsoft Learning Web site.) The four levels and their descriptions are:
- Technology Series – These exams demonstrate basic understanding of a particular product. This is the entry-level certification to the specified technology (e.g. SQL Server 2008). Successful completion yields a MCTS (Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist) certification in several “flavors.” For example, for SQL Server 2008, you can obtain a MCTS in Active Directory Configuration, Network Infrastructure Configuration, or Applications Infrastructure. Each indicates a different specialization, and an employer might choose between two candidates in a more targeted manner than if both held an MCSA or MCP.
- Professional Series – These exams demonstrate a deeper understanding and also come in specializations. Successful completion yields a MCITP (Microsoft Certified IT Professional) certification or a MCPD (Microsoft Certified Professional Developer) certification. These also have several flavors. As examples of specializations under Server 2008, there are Support Technician, Enterprise Administrator and Server Administrator. Again, this may affect hiring decisions made by a company looking for one focus over the other. Continue Reading The New MS Certifications for Dummies…
Tags: .NET certification, 70-536, developer exams, food coma, MCAD, MCPD, MCSD, MCTS, turkey, Visual Studio 2005
I know it’s a bit early, but in North America we have an autumn holiday tenderly called “Turkey Day.” This is a time where friends and family put aside differences and distances to share a large feast together in the pretense of harmony. The event usually revolves around the traditional meat of turkey, and the carving ceremony in my family has always been a moment of great anticipation and even greater contention.
So, sitting down at the .NET certification table, you might be wondering what happened to the big MCSD/MCAD turkey. Back in the day, the MCSD/MCAD certification represented a master developer, a jack-of-all-trades. So if you wanted a developer certification beyond the MCP, you had to eat the whole MCSD/MCAD turkey, even if you were just a Windows developer or only developed ASP Web sites; you had to eat both dark and white meat, leg and drumstick – everything.
With the introduction of the .NET Framework, the situation became even more complicated. Developing a Windows application became very similar to harnessing Web power, but you had to know everything about both to get the MCSD. The MCAD certification attempted to alleviate the pressure, but it was never as successful a certification as the MCSD.
So for the last few years Microsoft Learning has been busy carving the certification turkey, trying to spread the slices across a much wider spectrum of Microsoft technologies. We’ve entered a new age of smaller, more technology-specific certifications, so that there’s a little bit of certification for everyone to share. Rather than the MCSD and MCAD designation, there are now the TS (Technology Specialist) and PD (Professional Developer) designations.
So how is the certification table currently laid out? Something like this (click the image for a larger version):