The Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certification is another path to Microsoft's technology certification programs. The MTA certification creates a new entry point to help those who are new to IT to jump start their careers.

There are three career tracks: MTA IT Infrastructure track, MTA Database track, and MTA Developer track. Each track focuses on basic skills needed to move on to the certifications needed for those specialties.  The training and exams is not vendor neutral like CompTIA but more focused on Microsoft technologies.  

The MTA IT Infrastructure track has three exams, each one is a certification:

 98-365: Windows Server Administration Fundamentals
 98-366: Networking Fundamentals
 98-367: Security Fundamentals

These cover similar topics and difficulty level as CompTIA's Server+, Network+, and Security+ certifications. These exams are less expensive and shorter exams. The classes offered are usually less than 5 days.  Recently one of my students in an advanced server class stated he had taken these exams to get warmed up for the server exams.

The MTA Database track has one exam:

98-364 Database Fundamentals

For those intending to build a career in data platform administration or business intelligence.

The MTA Developer track has three exams, each one is a certification:

98-361:  Software Development Fundamentals
98-375: HTML5 App Development Fundamentals
98-379: Software Testing Fundamentals

For those intending to build a career as a software developer, this track helps prepare you for hands-on product training and MCSD certification. Start with MTA Software Development Fundamentals and then select the additional topics in this track to help you meet your career development goals:

All MTA Certification exams are scaled such that the passing score is 70. A common misperception is that you must answer 70 percent of the items correctly in order to pass the exam; however, the actual percentage varies from exam to exam and may be more or less than 70 percent. After you complete your exam, the number of items that you answered correctly is compared with the cut score to determine whether the result is pass or fail.

MTA Certification exams typically range between 30 and 50 questions. You will have 50 minutes to complete your MTA Certification exam.

MTA courses and exams were developed for the academic community; however, they are now available at training partners and public testing centers.  Entry level support staff members are ideal candidates for this certification and those who have been working in the field that just need to validate their knowledge.

Microsoft certification grows with your career. MTA validates students' understanding of the key IT building blocks essential for intermediate study.

Whether you are new to technology, changing jobs, or are a seasoned IT professional, becoming certified demonstrates to customers, peers, and employers that you are committed to advancing your skills and taking on greater challenges.