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January 15, 2016  3:53 PM

The top 5 IT security certifications to target in 2016

FirebrandInstructors Profile: FirebrandInstructors
cybersecurity, IT security, Security certifications

The trend of high profile hacks continued in 2015, with big names including Experian, Ashley Madison and Uber joining the list of victims. An IBM study now estimates the average cost of a single breach at $3.79 million for business.

With businesses facing an ever present and growing threat from cybercrime, it is unsurprising that demand for IT security professionals has never been higher. However, it seems these professionals are in short supply. (ISC)2 are reporting a cyberscurity skills gap which is set to reach 1.5 million professionals by 2020.

So, if you’re considering a career in cybersecurity, or looking to boost your future earning potential, we’ve compiled the list of top 5 IT security certifications to build and prove your cybersecurity skills. So, in no particular order:

(ISC)2 – Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)

With more and more businesses moving to the new technology frontier that is cloud, demand for cloud security professionals is on the rise. Cloud presents a new attack avenue for cybercriminals as they seek to deploy old attacks on new systems.

Whilst cloud computing presents many benefits, including improved security, it is critical that businesses understand the information security risks and mitigation strategies. Launched in 2015 from leading cloud and information security non-profits, the Cloud Security Alliance and (ISC)2, the CCSP credential develops and demonstrates these skills.

On a CCSP course you’ll develop and demonstrate practical skills in areas including cyber, information, software and cloud computing infrastructure. With the certification on your CV, companies will know you have the skills to protect their data assets in a cloud environment.

EC-Council – Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH v9)

EC-Council’s Certified Ethical Hacker certification is the go to credential for professionals looking to protect an organisation from black hat hackers. The information security training program gives you the skills to beat a hacker, by teaching you to think like a hacker.

The curriculum for CEH training went through an updated in October, 2015. Now on version 9, the new course teaches you 270 attack technologies, commonly used by hackers. You’ll also work through labs which mimic real time scenarios to help you ‘live’ through an attack and develop practical skills relevant to the workplace.

You’ll walk away from the course with advanced hacking skills which are in high demand. Put into practice you can identify and provide solutions to security weaknesses identified in a business’s systems, software and networks. This is done by actively attacking their systems.

ISACA – CSX Practitioner

In 2015, ISACA launched the Cybersecurity Nexus™,  a brand new program designed for cybersecurity professionals. Broken down into three certification levels, the CSX program aims to develop practical skills for real world application in modern day information security roles.

The first tier of the Cybersecurity Nexus program offers the CSX Practitioner certification. The program is broken down into 3 separate courses which develop skills across the 5 domains contained within the CSX program which are as follows:

  • Level 1 – Identification and Protection – build foundation security skills to identify key networks and develop required protection mechanisms. Topics will cover network scanning and security control implementation.
  • Level 2 – Detection – build the skills to detect potential network events and incidents by learning core concepts, methods and tools used to leverage cybersecurity controls.
  • Level 3 – Respond and Recover – learn to contain an attack, protect your assets and infrastructure, and the critical processes and features of an all-encompassing incident response plan.

This practical program developing hands-on skills is set to be one of the most sought after IT security certifications in 2016.

CompTIA – Security +

If you’re looking to break into a career in cybersecurity, then the CompTIA Security+ certification is a great place to start.

The certification is globally recognize and trusted to validate vendor neutral, foundation IT security knowledge and skills. Attending a CompTIA Sec+ course will develop knowledge in network security, compliance and operation security, threats and vulnerabilities as well as application, data and host security.

Approved by the U.S. Department of Defense and compliant with government regulations under the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), this credential has significant value throughout the US marketplace.

(ISC)2 – Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

A top IT security certifications list is never complete without the globally recognized (ISC)2 CISSP certification. Hailed as the gold standard of information security certifications, the credential is sought by IT security experts worldwide and is often the gateway to high profile information security  roles like Chief Information Security Officer (CIO).

Like the CEH, the CISSP training course also received a curriculum update in 2015, moving from 10 to 8 knowledge domains. Attaining the credential will prove you have the technical knowledge and skills to develop a security program against a set of globally recognized standards to protect a business.

You’ll learn skills in security operations, network security and asset security amongst others. The cert is aimed at experts and so has strict prerequisites demanding a minimum of 5 years’ experience in 2 of the 8 domains.

About the Author


Edward works for Firebrand Training as a Technical Writer within the Marketing department. His works are widely published, featuring in high-end publications including TechNet, Entrepreneur and TechRadar. At the beginning of 2015 Edward was named in Microsoft’s IT Pro New Year’s Honours List.

November 4, 2015  2:01 PM

Cisco’s new CCNA course is moving your networking skills to the cloud

FirebrandInstructors Profile: FirebrandInstructors
CCNA, cloud, Cloud networking, Network Administrator, Network Engineer

As businesses continue to deploy cloud infrastructure and operating models within their organizations,  we are entering an era of change for the role that networking plays. New infrastructure, applications, access and traffic are changing what is happening on the network. The fundamentals of what you need to do with data on a network hasn’t changed. However the different combinations of cloud service and deployment models require changes in network architecture, services and resources.

Networking has to change, and with it so to does the role of the network engineer. To take advantage of the changes in technology you must evolve to develop skills and knowledge of cloud networking. With World Bank studies estimating the need for 220,000 new network engineers every year from 2015 to 2022, now is the perfect time.

Networking giant, Cisco, have launched the new CCNA Cloud certification, specifically designed to develop the requisite skills and knowledge for companies and individuals looking to embrace the cloud.

What is the CCNA Cloud?

Cloud and IoT / IndustrialThe Cisco Certified Network Associate credential (CCNA) has long been the critical first step to a successful career in networking. The first and most popular CCNA course in routing and switching has since been joined by specializations including security, wireless, data center and collaboration. Cloud is the latest in this growing list of CCNA specializations.

The CCNA Cloud is a job-role based career certification aimed at cloud engineers, cloud architects, network engineers and network administrators. It was developed to build and demonstrate critical skills in cloud. You will learn to build private and hybrid cloud IaaS, allowing IT to facilitate and manage enterprise-wide cloud deployments.

Attaining the CCNA Cloud certification will prove you have the skills and knowledge required to design, install, and maintain Cisco Cloud solutions in SMB, enterprise cloud and data center environments.

What will I learn on the course?

In order to achieve the CCNA Cloud certification you will need to pass two exams, 210-451 CLDFND and 210-455 CLDADM. Aligned to these exams are two courses that I will briefly outline below:

Understanding Cisco Cloud Fundamentals (CLDFND)

Focusing the foundation tasks and knowledge linked to cloud computing, this course covers topics including different cloud deployment and service models, network architecture and server virtualization. You’ll cover the following modules:

  • Module 1: Cloud Characteristics and Models
  • Module 2: Cloud Deployment
  • Module 3: Basic Knowledge of Cloud Compute
  • Module 4: Basic Knowledge of Cloud Networking
  • Module 5: Basic Knowledge of Cloud Storage

Introducing Cisco Cloud Administration (CLDADM)

This course looks at the features and operation of Cisco UCS Director (UCSD) and Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud (CIAC) products. You’ll learn about cloud provision and management including the following modules:

  • Module 1: Cloud Infrastructure Administration and Reporting
  • Module 2: Chargeback and Billing Reports
  • Module 3: Cloud Provisioning
  • Module 4: Cloud Systems Management and Monitoring
  • Module 5: Cloud Remediation

What are the prerequisites?

Unlike some of the other specializations, the CCNA Cloud course requires no prerequisite certifications. However, it’s recommended that you have an understanding of network, compute and storage fundamentals. Doing so will avoid some steep learning curves.

Is recertification required ?

Yes, like all other CCNA associate certifications, the CCNA Cloud requires recertification after three years. You can achieve this when passing one of the following before the expiration date:

  • Pass any current Associate-level exam except for the ICND1 exam or
  • Pass any current 642-XXX Professional-level or any 300-XXX Professional-level exam, or
  • Pass any current 642-XXX Cisco Specialist exam (excluding Sales Specialist exams or MeetingPlace Specialist exams, Implementing Cisco TelePresence Installations (ITI) exams, Cisco Leading Virtual Classroom Instruction exams, or any 650 online exams), or
  • Pass any current CCIE Written Exam, or
  • Pass the current CCDE Written Exam OR current CCDE Practical Exam, or
  • Pass the Cisco Certified Architect (CCAr) interview AND the CCAr board review to extend lower certifications

What should I do after CCNA Cloud?

The natural follow on certification is the CCNP Cloud. Building on the cloud networking knowledge and skills fostered in the CCNA, the CCNP Cloud will take your career to the next level. You’ll dive into advanced topics which involve:

  • Implementing and Troubleshooting the Cisco Cloud Infrastructure
  • Designing the Cisco Cloud
  • Automating the Cisco Enterprise Cloud
  • Building the Cisco Cloud with Application Centric Infrastructure

Resources to prepare for certification success

If you’re committed to becoming CCNA Cloud certified, there are a series of resources to prepare you for certification success. They are as follows:

As well as the following resources you can also take an official course. Firebrand offers official Cisco courses with an accelerated 6 day CCNA Cloud course across our training centers in Europe and the Middle East.

About the Author


Edward works for Firebrand Training as a Technical Writer within the Marketing department. His works are widely published, featuring in high-end publications including TechNet, Entrepreneur and TechRadar. At the beginning of 2015 Edward was named in Microsoft’s IT Pro New Year’s Honours List.



July 31, 2015  12:40 PM

Build your cybersecurity skills with ISACA’s new CSX certifications

FirebrandInstructors Profile: FirebrandInstructors

Cyber-attacks are considered one of the top 10 threats to businesses in 2015, a survey from AON solutions revealed this week. This follows shocking news that cyber-criminals have now attacked 90 per cent of major British companies – costing the economy tens of billions of pounds.

A top official at the GCHQ spy agency warns the country will continue to face ‘chronic, advanced and persistent’ threats every day. It’s therefore unsurprising this year has seen the release of new and advanced cyber security training certifications, created to arm the industry with new skills and neutralise this ever present and escalating threat.

Earlier this year Cisco launched the threat detection and mitigation focussed Cybersecurity Specialist credential. (ISC)2 recently followed the launch with their Certified Cloud Security Professional certification built in partnership with the Cloud Security Alliance. Now ISACA has joined the party with the new Cybersecurity Nexus (CSX) program.

In this post we’ll take a closer look at the CSX certification track, discovering where it sits within the cyber security training and certification landscape.

What is the Cybersecurity Nexus?


The Cybersecurity Nexus, CSX for short, is ISACA’s brand new skills-based cyber security training and performance-based certification path. It was created on the principal that having knowledge is no longer enough in this increasingly complex and ever-evolving cyber security landscape, it’s about developing and proving the technical skills required to do the job from day one.

At face value it’s easy to draw comparisons with the advanced CISSP certification from (ISC)2. The CSX certification path, much like the CISSP, takes a holistic approach developing a series of security skills in different domains, but that’s largely where the similarities end.

The CSX program deserves recognition as its own unique entity. Unlike most traditional certifications, which test knowledge in a question and answer format, the CSX training and exams take place in a live, virtual ‘cyber’ environment – validating actual technical skill, ability and performance akin to doing the day job.

The CSX certification path is split into three levels – Practitioner, Specialist and Expert – let’s take a closer look.

CSX | Practitioner

Earning the CSX Practitioner certification demonstrates you have the skills to act as a first responder, following established procedures, defined processes and working mostly with known problems on a single system. You’ll develop firewall, patching and antivirus experience whilst demonstrating you can implement common security controls, perform vulnerability scans and analysis.

The Practitioner is broken into 3 separate courses focussing on individual skill sets:

  • Identification and Protection
  • Detection
  • Respond and Recover

If you’re looking to build a strong foundation of cyber security skills, it’s recommended you do all 3.

At this level, there is only one CSX Practitioner exam which does not require you to take the courses. However, the practical skills and knowledge tested will be based on content from the courses. The exam is expected to land any day now.

CSX | Specialist

Once attaining the prerequisite CSX Practitioner certification, you can move on to the CSX Specialist series. This level is split into five independent certifications and exams focussed on individual speciality areas – allowing you demonstrate a deep technical knowledge and ability in that domain.

The five specialist certifications are:

  • Identify – develop skills to identify threats and vulnerabilities
  • Protect – prove you can protect your systems from outside threats
  • Detect – demonstrate the skills to detect threats and system vulnerabilities
  • Respond – build knowledge to respond to, and mitigate cyber incidents
  • Recover – find out how to recover from incidents and disasters

Like the CSX Practitioner, the courses are not required to take the exams, though it’s highly recommended. The CSX Specialist exams are due for release July – September 2015.

Earning one, or more, of these certifications will provide a serious boost to your cyber security skills enhancing your employability.

CSX | Expert

The final and most advanced certification is the CSX Expert. Attaining this certification will establish you as a master-level security professional. You’ll develop and demonstrate the skills to identify, analyse, respond to and mitigate most cyber security incidents.

You’ll set yourself apart as the authoritative source for all cyber security matters within the organisation. Sitting on the same level as the Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certification, you’ll be tested on knowledge from all domains learned during the Practioner and Specialist pathways.

Unlike the other levels there is only one course, the CSX Expert course that is aligned to the CSX Expert exam. Like all CSX levels, the course is not required to take the exam. Expect this exam to arrive August – September 2015

Certify your Cyber Security career with CSX

In the likely event the CSX certifications follow in the footsteps of the globally recognised CISA and CISM certifications, you may want to think about working towards the knowledge required to attain them.

At present, there are no commercially available courses for the CSX. However, ISACA are already working with training partners (Firebrand is one of them) to create an official training schedule across the globe in multiple offerings including online, classroom and self-study formats.

Keep your eyes peeled for dates.

March 23, 2015  4:30 PM

Win Free Training for Life with Firebrand

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 Free Training for Life

Today marks the launch of Free Training for Life – a unique competition – where one person will win a lifetimes free access to Firebrand’s 180+ courses.

Used to its full potential, the prize offers a career and life changing opportunity. The winner can access training to develop the most in-demand skills on cutting edge technology. This level of professional development creates opportunities to pursue new and exciting job roles, secure that coveted promotion and  ultimately boost future earning potential.

What can you do with Free Training for Life

The possibilities are virtually limitless, but here are just a few scenarios:

Build a career with Microsoft Certification

As a Microsoft Gold Learning Partner, you can access the full range of certification tracks. Train from MTA, through MCSA and right on to MCSE or MCSD. Develop the skills to administer Windows Server 2012 , deploy and manage a hybrid cloud with Azure and System Center 2012 or even create modern web applications and services using Visual Studio 2014.

Learn the skills to become a Security Expert

So you can administer and manage your organisations technology assets, with Free Training for Life go one step further and learn how to protect them by taking EC-Councils Certified Ethical Hacker Certification.  You’ll develop knowledge of the techniques and methodologies used by hackers to attack your systems and networks, then learn how to defeat them. In time you can work towards the gold standard certification for information security professionals, (ISC)2’s CISSP certification. A certification like this can help you to become a CIO.

Climb the Networking  ladder with Cisco

Develop the skills to begin a career in Networking  working with Cisco technology and climb the ladder to Senior Network Engineer earning up to £60,000 a year. With Free Training for Life this is all possible by following the Cisco certification path. Start out with the CCENT and then move on to the CCNA (Routing & Switching) certification before achieving the Cisco CCNP (Routing & Switching).

Enter Free Training for Life Today

So what are you waiting for? Enter Free Training for Life today for your chance to win the prize worth an estimated £1 million.

It takes just two seconds to enter at –

About the Author


Edward works for Firebrand Training as a Technical Writer within the Marketing department. His works are widely published, featuring in high-end publications including TechNet, Entrepreneur and TechRadar. At the beginning of 2015 Edward was named in Microsoft’s IT Pro New Year’s Honours List.

January 6, 2015  4:57 PM

IT Certifications to target in 2015

FirebrandInstructors Profile: FirebrandInstructors
CEH, cloud, Data scientist, IT certfication, Windows Azure

The IT Industry moves quickly. To stay current in 2015, you’ll need to align your skills with the most popular existing and emerging technologies. And what better way to prove your skills by attaining the certifications associated with these technologies. Check out this list of IT certifications to target in 2015.

Microsoft Azure Certification

Demand for cloud skilled professionals has reached an all time high. The IDC predicts that this demand has far outstripped supply with an estimated 7 million cloud related jobs being left unfilled by the end of 2015. Put simply anyone who can demonstrate cloud skills is hot property.

Microsoft released two specialist cloud certifications at the end of 2014 for IT pros looking to demonstrate their abilities with Microsoft Azure. They are:

Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions  – aimed at Developers, attaining this certification will demonstrate the skills required to taking your existing Web and Windows Store Applications and expanding their functionality by deploying them on the Microsoft Azure platform.

Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions – attaining this credential shows you have the skills to migrate existing on-premise infrastructure to the Microsoft Azure platform. Demand for professionals attaining this certification is likely to skyrocket in 2015. With Windows Server 2003 End of Service looming, businesses have little option but to migrate to their infrastructure to the likes of Azure or face huge financial consequences.

CEH Certification – Certified Ethical Hacking

Recent high profile hacks of Sony and Google continue to highlight the importance of implementing robust cyber-security practices.  The financial impact of a single data breach can cost upwards of $1 million, not to mention the damage this does to a brands reputation. As a result, much like with cloud, the demand for professionals who can demonstrate cyber-security skills is at an all time high.

The CEH certification from EC Council is hugely popular and is renowned for being the worlds most advanced ethical hacking course. Attaining this certification you will demonstrate you have the skills required to boost any organisations cyber-security stance. You’ll learn how to penetrate networks and computer systems using the same methods and techniques as hackers. By doing so you can identify and patch weaknesses, making your organisation resilient to cyber attacks.

Cloudera Certified Professional: Data Scientist (CCP:DS)

In recent years we’ve witnessed an explosion of data, bandwidth and processing power giving rise to a new breed of IT professional known as the Data Scientist. Evolving from a business or data analyst role, a data scientist helps businesses identify and address problems by analyzing data on a huge scale spotting trends and anomalies.

The demand for Data Scientists is growing rapidly with 69% of IT professionals expecting a skills gap  in 2015 according to a recent study by EMC2. Fill that gap by attaining the CCP:DS an demonstrating you have the skills to work with big data at an elite level, whilst designing and developing production-ready data science solutions.

About the Author


Edward works for Firebrand Training as a Technical Writer within the Marketing department. He spends his days thinking up topics for surveys, articles and concepts for informative infographics.

September 30, 2014  10:09 AM

Firebrand names latest winner of Free Training for Life

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Firebrand Training is delighted to announce the second winner of the Free Training for Life (FTFL) competition. A prize estimated to be worth over £1 million*.

Starting today, Mario Henkel will gain access to a lifetime’s worth of free training courses and exams from Firebrand. He’ll be able to choose from 200+ IT, security and project management courses. The 26-year-old from Aschaffenburg, Germany, currently works for ponturo consulting AG as an IT Administrator.

FTFL 2014 Winner

FTFL 2014 Winner Mario Henkel (left) with Paul Dillenburg, General Manager of Firebrand Training GmbH

Firebrand Training UK Managing Director, Emma Seaman said:

We are excited to be awarding Mario this life changing prize. We cannot wait to see him taking full advantage of this opportunity and shaping his future career. By gaining just a single certification, research shows, Mario could increase his earning power 3x over in his lifetime. Just think what unlimited certifications will do for him.

Responding to winning Free Training for Life and what it meant to him, Mario said:

This is incredible, I can’t believe I won Free Training for Life! I am still processing the opportunities this prize can create for me. I have already decided to take the Certified Ethical Hacking course first. As I’m responsible for our IT system’s security, the knowledge I gain from this certification will be invaluable in protecting the company’s assets. I cannot wait to get started.

When talking about Mario’s first choice of certification, Firebrand Training UK Managing Director, Emma Seaman went on to say:

Mario has made an excellent first choice in selecting the CEH course from EC-Council. He will come away with the knowledge to significantly boost the information security posture of his organisation. In being taught to think like a hacker, Mario will learn how best to fend off any attacks on his organisations network and systems.

Mario’s prize includes all training fees, exam fees, course books, food and accommodation, and he can take the training in any of Firebrand’s training centres across Europe.

Firebrand would like to thank all 15,000 contestants for entering Free Training for Life and wish them well in their future careers. If all entrants made the choice to take at least one certification course with Firebrand, they would increase their salaries by around £75 million** over the next year.

* £1 million is calculated based on a 25 year-old winning and choosing £15K of training a year for the next 40 years with an inflation rate of 2.5% per year. The total value of training over 40 years would be £1,011,038 million.

** Average salary in the UK for an IT role £35,000. The average salary with a Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) certification ( is £40,000. Increase in salary £5,000  x 15000 = £75 million

September 25, 2014  1:55 PM

TechQuarters honoured at the National Apprenticeship Awards 2014

FirebrandInstructors Profile: FirebrandInstructors

Firebrand Apprenticeship partner TechQuarters won the Small Employer of the Year award in last night’s Regional finals of the National Apprenticeship Awards 2014. A leading provider of IT Services and Office 365 migration, TechQuarters have fully embraced Apprenticeships with 5 of their 17 current employees being IT apprentices.

From left to right: Kit Malthouse, Deputy Mayor for Business Enterprise, Chris Dunning CEO of TechQuarters Tim Campbell, Mayors Ambassador for Training Enterprise

Speaking to Firebrand about what it means to win the award, Chris Dunning, TechQuarters CEO said:

“I’m really pleased we have won this award. We started with our first apprentice four years ago and it has just snowballed since then. It has helped us create a plan for growth whilst giving the apprentices a progression route through the business. This award will only serve to help us attract further apprentice talent and continue our growth.”

“Hand on heart, I am sincerely amazed with their professionalism, reliability, responsibility and capabilities that our apprentices possess. It’s a great thing, to work with them on a daily basis and see them grow. Not to mention the phenomenal addition they make to the business as a whole.”

As the provider of TechQuarters apprentices, Firebrand Co-Founder Stefano Capaldo spoke about the award. He said:

We are delighted for TechQuarters, and the apprentices they hire. The support they provide their apprentices, and their continued commitment to the programme is worthy of this recognition. As CEO, Chris really understands the value apprentices can bring to the business, especially when you invest in their development. Having already supplied three apprentices to TechQuarters, we are relishing the opportunity to provide more and help grow their business further.

Having won the Regional Finals, TechQuarters will now go on to compete at the National Finals which will be held later this year. If successful, the company will be recognised as the UK’s leading Small Employer for Apprenticeships. They will also feature in the prestigious annual Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers list, published later this year in partnership with City & Guilds.

Speaking about Firebrand’s IT Apprentices currently employed by TechQuarters, CEO Chris Dunning also said:

The apprentices add an incredible amount of value to the team, without them, TechQuarters wouldn’t be where it is today. Each of our apprentices have said that they are gaining many new skills and confidence in the way they work since starting at TechQuarters, and some are even outperforming other employees.

This award is recognition of TechQuarters’ continued contribution, commitment and success through their Apprenticeship program with the support of Firebrand apprentices.

Since launching in 2012, Firebrand has now helped more than 100 young people pursue a career in IT through its Apprenticeship program. 99% of Firebrand Apprentices remain in full time employment upon completion of the one-year programme.

For enquiries about hiring an IT Apprentice to grow your business head to

July 31, 2014  10:58 AM

New SQL Server certifications: What you need to know

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April 1st, 2014, saw the release of SQL Server 2014, Microsoft’s cloud first data platform. Latest in a long line of relational database management systems, SQL Server 2014 boasted a range of new and improved features. This included greater performance through In-Memory OLTP,  increased availability and data protection and improved customer value for mission critical applications and hybrid cloud.

Such were the enhancements that Microsoft made significant amendments to the SQL Server certification track.  These changes divert from the transition to Microsoft SQL server 2012 from SQL Server 2008.

For those wondering if you’re affected by the changes, the following FAQ’s will guide you:


Q. When will the new MCSA: SQL Server 2014 certification launch?

A. At present, Microsoft have no plans to offer a new MCSA certification for SQL server 2014. As a majority of the updates relate to more advanced features of the system, it’s the MCSE track that has been affected.

Q. Will the existing MCSA: SQL Server 2012 be affected by these changes?

A. The short answer is no. Those considering, or working towards, the MCSA: SQL Server 2012 need not worry. The certification and its associated exams (70-461, 70-462, 70-463) are unaffected by the launch of the new platform. The MCSA: SQL Server 2012 will remain a prerequisite for the MCSE: Data Platform or MCSE: Business Intelligence certifications.

Q. How does SQL Server 2014 change the MCSE: Business Intelligence & MCSE: Data Platform credentials?

A. In case you missed it, the Microsoft Official Curriculum was already updated in April 2014, shortly after the new platforms launch. Associated SQL server 2014 topics were then integrated into the existing exams for the MCSE: Data Platform (70-464/70-465) and MCSE: Business Intelligence (70-466/70-467).The exam numbers remain unchanged.

Anyone who achieved the SQL MCSE credentials prior to these exam updates will not be tested on new features of SQL Server 2014 until the time of re-certification. By which time we’ll probably be working with SQL Sever 2016.

Q. What if I’m already working towards earning an MCSA/MCSE certification. How will updates to the technology affect me?

A. Fear not, Microsoft advise you to continue your path to certification, regardless of the SQL certification level you are pursuing. Anyone working toward the MCSA can continue unaffected. As I mentioned earlier, the MCSA: SQL Server 2012 remains on offer without any alterations.

If you are currently on track to earn either SQL Server related MCSE , all you need do is make a minor course correction (excuse the pun). Ensure you study the correct material by viewing the revised objectives of the associated exams found on the MCSE: Data Platform and MCSE: Business Intelligence pages.

Q. I want to start learning more about updates to SQL Server 2014. Where can I find the latest material?

Head to the Microsoft Virtual Academy where you’ll find a series of free training materials created by Microsoft SQL Server experts. Those considering certifying their skills can head to Firebrand’s website to find out more information on SQL Server 2014 and the full range of SQL server certifications on offer.

Have an FAQ to add, or just fancy providing some feedback? Feel free to add your comments below.

About the Author


Edward works for Firebrand Training as a Technical Writer within the Marketing department. He spends his days thinking up topics for surveys, articles and concepts for informative infographics.

July 21, 2014  10:03 AM

First female to win a Microsoft Apprentice of the Year award

FirebrandInstructors Profile: FirebrandInstructors
Microsoft, Women in Technology

Firebrand apprentice, Kimberley Bolton, is blazing a trail for all young women currently considering a career in IT.  The 19 year old from Maidenhead, made history last week after becoming the first woman to win a Microsoft Apprentice of the Year award. It is an important milestone in an industry where women make up less than 16% of the workforce.


From left to right : Home Secretary, Theresa May; Apprentice Winner, Kimberley Bolton; Microsoft UK Managing Director, Michel van der Bel

Kimberley was chosen from 1,000s of apprentices on the Microsoft program to win in the‘Medium Business Category’. Working as a Junior Support Consultant for Pythagoras, she was nominated by her employers in recognition of her positive attitude and hard work. After winning the award Kimberley said:

Becoming an IT apprentice is the best thing I’ve ever done. I’ve gone from having no confidence and no IT knowledge to winning Microsoft Apprentice of the Year. I’ve really had to push myself, and now it’s all paid off.

Kimberley’s achievement is a ray of light in an industry where gender remains a significant and worsening issue.  A recent report by BCS estimates less than 16% of the 1.2 million working in the UK IT industry are women. This number will decline further if the downward trend of female pupils studying ICT at GCSE and A Level continues.

Firebrand Training’s UK Managing Director, Emma Seaman said:

If we are to reverse the downward trend of young women taking an interest in IT then we must break the stereotype that ‘IT is for geeks’. Role models like Kimberley play a crucial role in breaking down this misconception and inspiring the future generation of female IT professionals.”

Attending the ceremony, Home Secretary, Theresa May shared her opinion on apprenticeships with Firebrand. Here’s what she had to say:

Apprenticeships are incredibly important in helping young adults to develop skills in the workplace. Apprenticeships are hands-on and so much more about understanding what the working environment is all about.”

Firebrand has now helped more than 100 young people pursue a career in IT through its Apprenticeship programme.

To enquire about hiring an IT Apprentice or becoming one yourself head to –

About the Author


Edward works for Firebrand Training as a Technical Writer within the Marketing department. He spends his days thinking up topics for surveys, engaging articles and concepts for informative infographics.

March 14, 2014  4:07 PM

Win free IT training for life with Firebrand

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Our Free Training for Life competition is back! Yet again, one lucky person will win free training for the rest of their lives on our full portfolio of 165+ courses.

The winner will have access to official training for globally recognised organisations including Microsoft, Cisco, EC-Council, (ISC)2 and CompTIA to name but a few. So whether they want to become a certified MCSE managing servers, a CCNP building networks or a Certified Ethical Hacker, its all covered for free.

So how does it work?

Simple, head to the Free Training For Life entry page, complete the form and you will be entered into the competition. Upon successful entry you will be provided with a unique sharing code, spread it anywhere you can think of, and anyone entering using your sharing code will gain you an additional entry. The competition is a lottery, so the more entries you attain, the greater your chance of winning.

Here’s 10 simple ideas to help you share the code:

  1. Share it on your Facebook.
  2. Stick it in an email and send it to all your work colleagues.
  3. If you own a blog, write about the competition and add your sharing URL as a link to the competition.
  4. Create a YouTube video explaining why you want to win. Then put the link in the intro section.
  5. Share it on your Twitter.
  6. Share it on LinkedIn with colleagues.
  7. Find a relevant community/group on Google Plus or LinkedIn and tell them about it.
  8. If you really wanted to win, you could sponsor a post on social media!
  9. If you have friends who have blogs, get them to share the competition.
  10. Stick it in your email signature (if you’re allowed).

What happened last year?

By the end of the competition last year we received more than 18,000 entries from 24 countries across the globe. Our FTFL winner was Joseph Guthrie, an End-User Support Executive at The Cloud, based in the UK. Joseph has so far attended training to become a Certified Ethical Hacker and is currently in the process of planning a series of Developer based applications.

Are there any rules?

Of course! You can see the Terms and Conditions on the FTFL entry page. The competition will run from today until 23:59 GMT on Sunday 14th September 2014. So what are you waiting for? Get started….

About the Author


Edward works for Firebrand Training as a Technical Writer within the Marketing department. He spends his days thinking up topics for surveys, engaging articles and concepts for informative infographics.

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