Microsoft Certification Guide to Use in 2021 and Beyond
Microsoft is the world’s leading operating system provider and well-known for its office software too. But apart from this, Microsoft has a much broader product portfolio which covers:
Online services: MSN, Bing, advertising
Gaming: Xbox 360
Hardware: PCs, Mice, Keyboards and tablets, and much more.
Apart from its software and services Microsoft offers a lot of certification program that certifies technicians and administrators to support its products and system.
With these IT certifications of the Microsoft Certification Program, professionals can show their competence in various IT roles, resulting in personal benefits and work-related growth.
According to the studies, Microsoft IT certifications increase opportunities and chances of getting jobs and promotions.
More than 80% of the hiring authorities consider IT certifications medium to high priority to hire certified professionals.
What is Microsoft Certification?
A Microsoft Certification or MC is awarded to IT professionals who successfully pass at least one or more Microsoft certification exams. Once you pass any one exam of Microsoft, you become a Microsoft Certified Professional. To get other Microsoft certifications like MCA, MCE, MCSD, MCSE, the candidate need to pass multiple exams.
Microsoft Certification Guide:
One of the best and fastest ways to boost your IT industry career is to get the Microsoft Certification. Whether you are working or willing to work as an IT professional, developer, database or system administrator, or an analyst, a Microsoft Certification can always help you improve your skills and increase your chances of getting promoted or hired.
Microsoft offers a vast range of Microsoft certifications and Microsoft training through Microsoft online courses and classes.
Despite the recent changes and improvisations from the Microsoft Training department to make the certification categories and paths simple, some students and candidates still get confused and find it challenging to select the certification path and which one to pursue.
With this guide, you will understand which Microsoft certification you should pursue and know which one is best suited for your job role and career.
You will also get to know the working of Microsoft Certification Roadmap, the best certifications from the category, and which are now no longer available and retired.
Learning Options of Microsoft Training:
Since we all learn in various ways, Microsoft also offers multiple options to get certifications. You can choose any one from the following as per your choice:
- Accelerated Boot camp Training
- Instructor-led (Live Classroom)
- Virtual classroom live
- Online Courses
To find which one is best for you and your learning style, let’s dig into these types:
- Accelerated Bootcamp Training:
Accelerated Bootcamp Training is considered the most reliable and the fasted method to get the Microsoft Certification; it is also called “Microsoft Boot camps.”
It allows the candidates to learn technologies in the traditional classroom training with a fraction of the time.
The certification camps are designed exclusively for specialized training through the format of Microsoft Boot Camp.
The training model is a perfect blend of the certification preparation and knowledge in one solution. The “Hybrid” model is specially designed so that the students can learn the objective of the exam instead of the “exam” itself. To visit these boot camps, you have to get the airfare, transportation, meals, lodging, test, and book vouchers done.
- Instructor-led (Live Classroom)
In this type of training, you can interact with Microsoft certified trainers face-to-face.
Those individuals looking to develop their technical skills and expertise can learn from the Microsoft experts. Here, the candidates have two options to choose from:
- In-class training (Classroom live)
- Virtual classroom Live ( interact with the instructor and attend the led-live class remotely)
Benefits of earning Microsoft Certification:
Microsoft Certifications are the best way to prove your IT skills and expertise through Microsoft's well-recognized platform. The Microsoft certifications demonstrated your expertise in any IT field and improve your IT career and many benefits like promotion, growth, and more salary.
There are many proven benefits of getting the Microsoft Certifications. According to the research, the following are a few of them:
- Stand Out:
Microsoft-certified employees get more recognition of their skills from the employer and the IT industry due to validation.
- They can earn more:
Nearly 23% of the technologists having Microsoft certifications can earn up to 20% more.
49% of the employers and IT professionals believe that cloud certifications can increase the chances of employability.
Other than this, many IT gurus believe that it can also help certifies professionals in the following ways:
- Get hired Faster: usually many individuals who are expert in a particular IT cannot demonstrate their skills to the employers and other which means there is no chance for them to stand out. With the Microsoft Certifications, one can show their expertise and skills backed by a famous Microsoft.
- Get recognition: by updating and building your skills, you can enhance your productivity and become a trained IT professional or team member. As per Pearson VUE report, Microsoft certified professionals are 60 percent more efficient and 90 percent more productive, as well as 36.5 percent of IT professionals claim that these certifications also helped them solve complex tasks with ease and confidence.
- Get rewarded: as per Nigel Frank International Microsoft Dynamics Salary Survey, 27% of professionals claim that they got direct salary increase after the certification. Also, 70% of the professional said their employer paid the full cost of their certification.
- Get promoted: with the Microsoft training and certifications, the professionals get more promotion opportunities as they are entrusted with leading their peers and team.
- Satisfaction: people who go for the Microsoft Certifications are more satisfied and said they would recommend these certifications to others, friends and collages.
What is Microsoft Certification Roadmap 2020?
Microsoft has launched a new roadmap which is known as Microsoft Certification Roadmap 2020, having four certification paths to choose. Each path consists of three different certification levels: fundamental, associate, and expert. This roadmap focuses on the three main categories of Microsoft, which are Azure, Dynamics 365 Training, and Microsoft 365.
Microsoft Role-based Certifications:
Back then, when computer technology was still in its developing phase, Information Technology was considered a generalist job, which means you have to learn to do the same primary task on various systems. To work on these systems, some require specific certifications while others just require you to adapt and fit according to a new system.
Luckily things have changed and improved now. The online world's possibilities, mobile technology, cloud-based services, and many more advancements have blown the IT and digital world wide open.
Microsoft has recently launched role-based solutions designed according to the IT training and the specific roles in the IT department. Following are the two main benefits the role-based solutions come with.
First, it provides the employer and managers a freshly trained employee who is equipped with the latest technology of that field, skills, and knowledge that is up-to-date in the industry.
Secondly, it also allows the employees or the IT professionals to match and update their training according to the actual job openings, instead of learning any particular skills for months which is later even not job-related.
A change from Platform Certifications to Role-Based Certifications:
The expansion of IT possibilities has played a significant role in changing Microsoft's focus and philosophy from platform certifications to role-based certifications.
It is no longer enough to get training for different platforms. Instead, today we focus on training for those who are required explicitly within a platform. In some cases, the job roles are different in different business models and organizations, but roles functions are the same.
Here are some examples of the job roles – instead of the traditional “troubleshooter” role, now there are new and improvised job roles that require a specific set of skills like developers, administrators, and solutions architects.
Each of these roles requires the IT professionals to know the platform really well, but at the same time, their job is to use the platform through different skills and critically unique ways.
That is why Microsoft continues to give a specific path and certifications around the cloud platform and infrastructure, mobility, productivity, data management and analytics, business applications, and app building. These certifications are designed to cater to the developer work, database, server, and desktop.
Since there is something for everyone in the field of IT, Microsoft Certifications gives you opportunities to meet the job according to your skills.
Overview of Microsoft Certification Program:
Microsoft Certification Program is currently divided into seven main categories, which are given below:
- Cloud Platform and Infrastructure: this Microsoft certification encompasses of:
- Windows Server 2016
- Business intelligence
- Microsoft learning
- Cloud data platform solutions
- Data analytics and big data
- Software-defined data centers
- Server infrastructures
- Hybrid and private clouds
- Mobility: This category covers
- Windows 10
- Desktop and enterprise applications
- System Center Configuration Manager and Intune
- Planning and managing devices in a business setting.
- Data management and Analytics: this category covers:
- Incorporation of machines learning
- Business intelligence
- Business applications
- Data management and analytics
- Microsoft SQL Server 2016
- Microsoft database technologies
- Transact-SQL and developing SQL databases
- Microsoft Dynamic 365
- Microsoft Dynamics AX
Analytics and data management covers huge topics, which include:
- cloud data platform solutions
- database solutions
- big data analytics solutions
- implementing data models and reports
- Different aspects of topic business intelligence solution.
- Productivity: This category of Microsoft certifications covers the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) credential with relation to Microsoft productivity like:
- Exchange Server
- SharePoint Server
- Skype Business
- Office 365 identities
- App Builder: this category is more development-oriented and covers many ins and outs by utilizing Microsoft solutions as well as platforms so that much compatible software can be built. Topics that are included in this category are:
- Architecture, design, test, and building solutions related to Azure.
- NET MVC Web apps development
- Management and development throughout the whole software lifecycle.
- Business Applications: This category focuses on:
- Microsoft Dynamics 365 technologies and platforms including:
- Dynamics 365 for Sale
- Customer Services
- Distribution and Trade
- Finance and Operations (financial management
- Field Service
- Core Infrastructure: this category focuses on storage, networking, system management, virtualization, identity management as well as modern data centers.
Microsoft Certification Program of this category includes:
- Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA)
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)
- Microsoft Solutions Developer (MCSD)
- Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS)
Once you pass the first Microsoft Certification Exam, you become qualified for the Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP). MCP provides access to the exam dashboard, transcripts and certification, downloadable logos of certification, and many promotional offers and many benefits. Along with this, you will also get MCP designation on the Microsoft transcript. It is equally important to know that only MCSA, MCSD, and MCSE are qualified to get the MCP certifications. For MTA and MOS, certifications do not qualify for MCP status, and these exams are not even prerequisites for MCSE, MCSA, and MCSD certifications.
With the addition to the Microsoft Certification outline given above, Microsoft also offers MCT – Microsoft Certified Trainer as well as MCE – Microsoft Certified Educator credentials for those who want to teach others about Microsoft products and technologies.
Microsoft recently released a role-based certification that focused on Microsoft 365 and Azure solution architects, developers, and administrators.
Microsoft Cloud Certifications:
Microsoft Cloud certifications consist of MCSA and MTA credentials. Within the MTA certification program, the relevant certification is the Cloud Fundamentals. To get the MTA Cloud Fundamental credentials, the candidate must have the knowledge and skills of Microsoft cloud services and pass the single exam which demonstrates it. The candidate must also have experience with firewalls, Office 365, network ports, Microsoft Intune, network devices, and topologies.
The MCSA Cloud track consists of SQL 2016 BI development certs, Windows Server 2012, BI Reporting, Windows Server 2016 credentials. There are three exams for Windows Server certifications, while there are only two exams for the BI Reporting and SQL 2016 BI Development.
Microsoft Mobility Certification:
The Microsoft Mobility certification track consists of MCSE, MCSA, and MTA certifications. The MTA program has only one relevant Certification, which is MTA – Mobility and Device Fundamentals. The certification of MTA: Mobility and Device Fundamentals can be earned by passing the only exam in which the candidate demonstrates the knowledge of Windows devices and mobility. Also, the candidate must have practical knowledge and experience of Windows devices, Active Directory, Windows-based networking, firewalls, antimalware products, and network topologies and ports.
MCSA: Windows 10 credentials are available only for MCSA Mobility. To earn MCSA: Windows 10, candidates require passing two examinations.
The last credentials to pass this track are for the MCSE: Mobility. It requires MCSA: Windows 10 as well as passing another exam from the two possibilities. The first option is to deal with enterprise applications and Windows desktops, and the second option is the Cloud Services Integration and System Center Configuration Manager and administering.
Both the MCSE: Mobility credentials and MCSA: Mobility has retired on the 31st March 2019. If any certificate holder has earned it prior to the retirement date, his/her credentials will still show the status “Active” on the transcript. The MCSA: Windows 10 has been replaced by a recent role-based credential: the Microsoft Certified: Modern Desktop Administrator Associate.
Microsoft Data Certifications:
Microsoft’s Data certifications consist of the MCSA, MTA, and MCSE. (You can check the Data track by visiting the Microsoft Certification page and click on the Data from the Category dropdown menu. The MTA program demands one examination of the database fundamentals. The six certifications in the MCSA Data track are:
- Data Engineering with Azure
- Machine Learning
- SQL 2016 BI Development
- SQL 2016 Database Administration
- SQL 2016 Database Development
- SQL Server 2012/2014
All of the above certifications require two examinations except for the SQL Server 2012/2014, consisting of three exams. The Machine Learning and Data Engineering certifications have retired on 31st June 2019.
The MCSE Data category has only one certification, which is MCSE: Data Management and Analytics.
The prerequisite for MCSAs which makes you qualify for the MCSE: Data Management and Analytics are SQL 2016 Database Administration, Database Development, SQL Server 2012/2014, BI Development, BI Reporting, and Data Engineering with Azure or Machine Learning. The candidate needs to pass one additional exam from the 13 possibilities to get the credentials. These topics are:
- cloud data platform solutions
- big data analytics solutions
- developing or designing SQL Server databases
- implementing data models and reports
- Designing business intelligence solutions
- Implementing a data warehouse
- developing SQL data models
- analyzing big data with Microsoft R
- cloud data science with Azure machine learning
- data engineering with Azure HDInsight
- implementing with Azure Cosmos DB solutions
Microsoft Productivity Certifications:
There is a wide variety of certifications in the Microsoft Productivity category, ranging from the competency in utilizing a single product of MS Office to managing the services of Office 365 and the login credentials of the user. The track is quite large and includes the MCSE and MCSA certifications and Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS).
The MCSA Productivity track consists of one certification, which is the MCSA: Office 365. To get the credentials, a candidate has to pass two exams. The credential is retried on 30th March 2019. The MCSE: Productivity certificate must have credentials prerequisites of Windows Server 2012, Office 365, or Windows Server 2016. The candidate has to pass an additional exam among the eight possible options. Topics covered in this certification include SharePoint Server, Exchange Server, and Skype for Business.
Microsoft also offers certification of MOS Office 2016 for every Office application such as Excel, Word, Outlook, Access, and PowerPoint. You can still get Office 2013 credentials, but you have to focus on the advance one, Office 2016.
The MOS 2016 Expert certification requires candidates to have advanced Office skills and also to pass two exams. The MOS 2016 Master certification is the MOS Certification Program's primary certification and requires completing six exams successfully.
Microsoft App Builder Certificate:
The Microsoft App Builder MCSA track consists of two credentials. The MCSA: Universal Windows Platform (UWP) prepares individuals how to manage and tackle professional development projects. For this, the candidate has to pass two exams, one on developing mobile apps and the other is on programming in C#.
The MCSD Developer track has the MCSA: App Builder certification. The prerequisite requirement is to earn the MCSA: UWP or MSCA: Web Applications, followed by any one exam of your choice among the five possible options. Topics covered are:
- architecting and developing Azure solutions
- developing Azure and web services
- developing mobile apps
- programming in C#
- NET MVC Web apps development
- MS Azure and Web services development
Microsoft Business Applications Certifications:
The Microsoft Business Applications consists of two certifications, MCSA and MCSE. There are two options for MCSA – MCSA: Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations and MCSA: Microsoft Dynamics 365; both require two exams to pass. Each one of them requires passing two exams. There is a list of two exams for plain vanilla Dynamics 365 certification; both are needed to fulfill its requirements. One examination focuses on the Dynamics 365 customization and configuration and the other Dynamics 365 customer engagement online deployment. The MCSA: Dynamics 365 has retired on 30th April 2019.
The Operations of Dynamic 365 covers a list of three examinations; one requires the candidate to choose the second examination topic. Topics that are covered in these exams are:
- administering a Microsoft SQL database infrastructure
- provisioning SQL databases and development
- Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations (required) and its extensions and deployment.
The MSCE: Business Application is the only MCSE product in this certification track. The candidate can choose one exam from the above categories for the Microsoft Dynamics MCSA as a prerequisite and one more exam from the list of eight possibilities. Topics covered are:
- Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales
- customer service
- distribution and trade
- finance and operations /financial management
- field service
The Core infrastructure of Microsoft consists of a single credential which is MCSE: Core Infrastructure. The MCSE: Core Infrastructure certifies the validation of the individual’s skills and knowledge of data system store, networking, identity management, and virtualization as well as system management. The credential’s requirements as prerequisites are either MCSA: Windows Server 2012 or the MCSA: Windows Server 2016. To pass the MCSA, the candidate must also pass a single exam from the possibilities of seven topics. Exam topics are as follows:
- Cloud Data Platform solutions – Designing and implementing
- Big Data Analytics solutions– Designing and implementing
- securing Windows Server 2016
- implementing software-defined datacenters
- server infrastructures - designing and implementing
- hybrid cloud with Microsoft Azure Stack - configuring and operating
Microsoft Trainer and Educator Certification:
Microsoft Certified Trainer: MCT
Candidates who are either willing to teach or already teaching others about the Microsoft technologies and products should consider or be required to have the MCT: Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) Certification. The candidate has to provide Microsoft following things along with an application to qualify for the MCT:
- One year of teaching experience (along with the reference supporting it)
- Verifiable instructional skills with the acceptable certification of the instructor such as:
- CompTIA CTT+
- Microsoft Certified Trainer Instructional Skills Certification (MCT-ISC)
- IAMCT Approved Technical Trainer
The candidate can also check the MCT website for the requirement list of instructor certification and qualification of the certifications. Apart from that, to renew the credentials, the candidate must have at least one recent Microsoft credential, fulfill the requirements of instructions to at least one class, and maintain Metrics of at least seven in the quality score.
As an MCT, you will have access to the following things:
- Benefits of MCP
- Exams dashboard
- Prep kits
- MCT community
- Microsoft Online Labs
- And many more things.
Microsoft Certified Educator: MCE
Those candidates who want to develop skills to educate Microsoft in academia like training facilities, universities, and colleges to get these certifications, the candidate must pass at least one exam by demonstrating technology literacy.
The literacy competency based on the following things:
- the UNESCO ITC Competency Framework for Teachers
- Technology Literacy including
- education policy
- curriculum and assessment
- ICT/technology tools
- Administration and organization
- Professional development.
Related Careers and jobs:
IT Professionals who possess Microsoft certifications usually receive more attention and extra recognition from supervisors, HR, and the hiring process, leading to promotion opportunities and on-the-job success. Companies and businesses that negotiate subscription agreements or massive volume purchases from Microsoft itself or their partner reseller often receive funding for the vouchers of Microsoft certification exams and official curriculum training as a part of the deal.
Here are some ways Microsoft Certifications improves career and job opportunities:
- Microsoft Cloud Certification is best for IT professionals who work in a Windows Server environment, stand-alone or cloud-based system where they deploy, design, manage or configure the system, including various devices and desktops. Individuals with this certification can earn positions as a
- systems analysts
- systems administrators,
- technical specialists (working with SQL Server, Skype for Business or Exchange Server),
- and many others in this regard
- Microsoft Mobility Certifications is ideal for those working on the cloud or on-premises environment, maintaining, configuring, and deploying with Windows desktop and other devices related to it. It professionals having this certification can easily get the jobs of support personnel, help desk technicians, systems administrators, etc.
- Another on the list is the Microsoft Productivity credentials which is quite popular and got a lot of momentum, coverage, and interest in the IT industry. Folks having these certifications can get job-roles related to Windows platforms such as Office 365, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Office, covering the ERP, CRM, and more. Their job responsibility is to ensure that rank-and-file employees are working with productivity and effectiveness. Along with this, the certification provides a good boost to the bottom line.
- Microsoft Data certifications is another certification that covers a vast ground. Since organizations are more concerned about Database maintenance, creation, and design, Microsoft Data Certification is quite demanding. Data storage has become necessary business computing, and now in the background, nearly every digital business and website is supported by single or multiple databases running. The person having this certification can get a job as a database administrator in charge of all types of functions related to databases, from retrieval and storage, development, security, and troubleshooting. The Microsoft database also integrates and covers the data analytics/significant data components and business intelligence, so the IT professionals looking to chase down and learn topics related to the database must get this course.
- Microsoft App builder certifications are ideal for those candidates who want to learn about mobile app development and application using source code and programming languages to create software. An app developer can develop, deploy, prototype, test and modify apps for electronic devices and computers, either independently or with a team. This certification also consists of the management of software lifecycle and Microsoft’s Azure cloud-based environment development.
- Microsoft Business Application certifications cater to those working with line of business systems, back-office, and apps built around Microsoft Dynamics 365 (as well as the “for operations” version of Microsoft). This certification also aims at the configuration, customization, and upgrading of the systems for those individuals who develop custom apps for proprietary uses in-house as well as on behalf of other customers. These app developers also support different business units' custom configurations, including field services, finance, sales, retail operations, trade and distribution, and many others.
- Educators (MCEs) and Trainers (MCTS) play an important role in Microsoft's ecosystem. MCTs, focus on the front-line training of IT platforms in various platforms, technologies, and tools, emphasizing on-the-job deployment by cultivating imparting skills, workplace readiness, and knowledge suitable for their job role. Moreover, the MCEs are considered even more essential as it focuses on helping students on each educational level from primary, secondary and higher levels, in understanding and making most out of Microsoft technologies, platforms, tools, and development environments.
Preparation material of Certification and Training:
Microsoft offers Microsoft training to the candidates directly, both in the Microsoft courses online and in the classroom. To get the Microsoft training and Microsoft certifications, the Microsoft Virtual Academy – MVA is a great place to get started. It offers many free training courses, and most of them are relevant to the certification topics covered if directly not focusing on them.
There is also a large market after Microsoft training, certification preparation, and self-study. The Microsoft Press, operated by Pearson on behalf of Microsoft, has many self-study guides related to all the famous Microsoft certification exams, including many not-so-famous exams. Pearson’s IT Certification is imprinted at PearsonITCertifiaction.com online, which also offers exam crams, study guides, video training materials, practice tests, and much more material for those candidates who want training the Microsoft certifications. Osborne/McGraw-Hill and Wiley/Sybex also provide certifications bases on imprints and book series. They generally offer major certification tops and provide good coverage and materials related to most famous Microsoft certifications and exams. Pearson’s mindhub is an online store that provides practice tests that are “official” and approved by Microsoft.
There is a lot of good stud and excellent material available to help the candidates who are preparing for the Microsoft certification exams. To get more authentic and relevant information, the candidate needs to search online, go for the peer reviews, rating sites, and study groups.
Microsoft Certifications by Technology:
The Microsoft certification path is also available in the form of a category, but many candidates also want to know the Microsoft certifications available per technology.
So, here is an overview of the Microsoft certifications, which are grouped by the technology.
- Microsoft 365:
It is a standard certification offered by Microsoft, but here are its categories as per technology certifications:
- MCA: Modern Desktop Administrator
- MCA: Microsoft 365 Teamwork Administrator Associate
- MCA Microsoft 365 Modern Desktop Administrator
- MCE: Microsoft 365 Enterprise Administrator
- MCA Microsoft 365 Security Administrator Associate
- SQL Server
Second, in the list of Microsoft technology certification is the SQL Server which has the following categories:
- MCSA: SQL 2016 Database Administration
- MCSA: SQL 2016 Database Development
- MCSA: SQL 2016 Business Intelligence Development
- MCSA: SQL 2016 BI Reporting
- MCSA: SQL 2016 Data Engineering with Azure
- MTA: Database SQL Server
- Windows Server
The third is the Windows Server which focuses on the servers used by the Windows, and here are its categories:
- MCSA: Windows Server 2016
- MCSA: Windows 2016 UPGRADE
- MCSE: Cloud Platform & Infrastructure (Security)
- MTA: IT Infrastructure Windows Server
- Windows Client
The only category of Windows client is the MCSA: Windows 10.
- Exchange Server
The only category of the Exchange Server is the MCSE: Productivity – Exchange 2016.
- Office 365
MCSA: Office 365 is the only category of Office 365 which comes under the Microsoft technology certifications
- SharePoint Server
If the student or candidate wants to learn about the SharePoint server,
MCSE Productivity SharePoint 2016 Administrator is the certification they should opt for.
- System Center
Those who want to learn the System Center should go for
MCS: System Center Configuration Manager V1702 (SCCM).
- MCA: Azure Administrator
The azure administrator has three categories which are:
- MCA: Azure Developer
- MCE: Azure Solutions Architect
- MCE Microsoft Azure DevOps
- Visual Studio
At last, the Visual studio has three following categories to choose from:
- MCSA: Web Applications
- MCP: Programming in C#
- MTA: Intro To Programming
As per recent Microsoft certifications and training changes, some of the Microsoft Certifications have retired and now no longer available. These certifications are:
- MCSE Mobility
- MCSA Windows 10
- MCSA Office 365
- MCSE Cloud Platform
- MCSA Linux on Azure
- MCSA Cloud Platform
- MCSA Microsoft Dynamics 365