The path to qualifications can be a little confusing so we’ve produced a handy interactive PDF which shows the current Microsoft MTA, MCSA, MCSE and MCSD qualification routes along with the courses and exams required to get you there.
Think of this as your handy CertNav!
Why strive for an IT qualification?
For employees, 85% of IT hiring managers consider certifications a medium to high priority according to the CompTIA research paper Employer Perceptions of IT Training and Certification.
For managed services providers, a 2009 research report by Beth Vanni (then Director of Market Intelligence for Amazon Consulting) found 60% of customers trust a certified partner more and involved that partner more readily in future decision making. Also, 60% engaged more repeat business and purchased services beyond products from certified providers.
And my favourite research finding is quoted on the Microsoft certification site: Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, Microsoft Certified IT Professional, and Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator are among the top 25 highest-paying IT certifications.
You will try to remember us when you’re sunning yourselves on your yacht in the Bahamas won’t you?
Training is expensive, we get that. So how can you justify spending money and time in order to attend training courses?
Facts and Figures from Research Reports
There are many studies on the value of training, not just IT training and I don’t intend to summarise or make a conclusion in this blog. However I did like a 2009 research report by Beth Vanni (then Director of Market Intelligence for Amazon Consulting) and a few points that sprang out included:
♦ the majority of customers indicated they trusted a certified partner more
♦ customers involve certified partners to a greater degree in future decision making
♦ certified providers gain more repeat business and sell more services beyond product purchases
The research indicated that having certified staff does not mean you can increase your prices; nor will your certifications rank highly in your customers’ criteria for choosing a partner. Customers want strong relationships, high service levels and complete solutions. It seems to be expected that the staff know their stuff just as it is expected that the staff will act professionally and not spend all day browsing Facebook. Certifications are important but they are a mere fact of due diligence.
Of course if you are hiring new staff, you need a benchmark on which to judge their skills. 90% of the respondents to a McKinsey Quarterly survey (“Building organizational capabilities: McKinsey Global Survey results,” March 2010) said that building capabilities was a top-ten priority for their organisations. Standards for both academic and technical qualifications are important here.
You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know
A cliché, I admit. I know I don’t know much about Quantum Physics but it’s a cool job title. I’ve been dealing with Microsoft products for 25 years but I still gain a lot from watching other people use Microsoft Office. Attending a training course helps widen your knowledge and experience and often demonstrates best practices, tools or methodologies that even experienced IT Pros may not have come across in their day-to-day work. Training courses help you explore areas of the products and technologies that you may not have used in the past, in a guided and safe way (without risking production environments). There’s also the networking opportunities. I like meeting fellow course delegates; IT can be quite a small world and some of my best contacts have been gained from training courses.
Perhaps you’re looking for a new job and you want to refresh your certification. Perhaps you’re hiring new staff and want to skill them up quickly or meet targets to earn a Microsoft Partner Competency. What’s the easiest way to earn a Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) accreditation?
Easy is the wrong word here. None of these exams are easy; they exist to test and prove your experience and knowledge in a topic. MCSA is also the prerequisite to earn the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert accreditations which really are the pinnacle of Microsoft certifications.
However the fastest route to earn an MCSA, assuming you’re not upgrading an earlier qualification, is to work towards either Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 MCSA or towards the Office 365 MCSA. Each of these routes only require you to take two exams from scratch.
Your choice should clearly depend on your IT career path and the skills you’re going to need. If you are open to all areas though, of those three MCSA options, we’d advise the Office 365 MCSA. Firstly there is only one 5-day course whereas Windows MCSA involves two 5-day courses and thus more time out of the office and more cost. Attending a course is not required to take an exam but it’s a great way to maximise your chances. Secondly, the Office 365 MCSA can be used as the foundation to gain the MCSE qualification in Desktop Infrastructure, Server Infrastructure, Private Cloud, Messaging, Communications or SharePoint. The Windows MCSA does not have an MCSE route.
Of course, we’d love to help you gain nay Microsoft qualification so please get in touch and see how we can help.
Microsoft likes the partner channel to speak the same language in terms of pre-sales activities. To help achieve this, there are a number of accreditations that partners can take. Some of these are mandatory in order to gain Microsoft competencies but they’re pretty useful anyway; for partners and customers alike.
The Specialist Sales Accreditation is ideal for the early stages of the sales cycle and covers product overviews, customer objections and competitive landscapes. The Presales Technical Specialist is aimed at professionals who work in the later stages (demos, proof-of-concept, pilot) of the sales cycle. Some staff will no doubt want to take both sets of accreditations. They are all online exams, free to take and you can attempt them as many times as you need. As I mentioned, these aren’t trying to be MCSA or MSCE certifications; they’re to keep partners up to date and prepared.
Imageframe delivers training for both of these accreditations and as part of our training we’ve produced summary cards to assist delegates when they take each exam. We’d love for you to attend one of our sessions but because we like to be helpful, you can download a selection of these battlecards below.