A quick look at the MCTS Web page confirms several observations:
- Lots of credentials fall under this umbrella (32 in all)
- These credentials cover lots of different ground: .NET Framework 2.0 (3) and 3.5 (6), SQL Server 2005 (2) and 2008 (3), BizTalk Server 2006 (1), Project Mgmt (2), Office Live Communications 2005 (1) and SharePoint Server 2007 (2) and SharePoint Services 3.0 (2), Exchange Server 2007 (1), Windows Embedded CE (1), Windows Mobile 5.0 (2), Windows Server 2003 (1), Windows Server 2008 (3), Business Desktop Deployment (1), and finally, Windows Vista Confiugration (1).
- As the foregoing item enumerates, there’s something here for nearly everybody in IT: developers, database and platform specialists, administrators, and more
What’s not immediately apparent is that earning some of these credentials requires passing only a single exam, while others require two exams. Some of the credentials, such as the MCTS: Microsoft Visual Studio 2008, offer specialties in up to 6 areas, where each one requires passing two exams related to that specialty (7 total number of exams fall under this umbrella, where the .NET Foundation 70-536 exam is common to all of them). Interestingly, Microsoft also indicates where MCTS exams also apply to related MCITP certifications (for example, all the SQL Server 2008 exams for MCTS also apply to MCITP, which adds more exams together and to those requirements for candidates).
Moving to the next rung in the MS certification ladder, the tracks for MCTS lead either to the Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) or to the Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD) credentials. Hopefully that explains the large number of developer oriented and platform/administrator oriented offerings in the MCTS program, as well as the large number of constituent credentials underneath this particular umbrella.
Microsoft appears to be moving away from its earlier, more monolithic MCP-MCSA-MCSE and MCSD certifications. The emphasis in this program is more scattered, but that paradoxically allows IT professionals to specialize more narrowly and dig more deeply into the many different platforms and technologies that Microsoft currently offers to its customers. I’m glad to see that the marketplace is endorsing this approach with recognition, salaries, and uptake on both the working professional and hiring organization sides. This can’t be anything except good for IT Professionals interested in digging into one or more of these credentials, or organizations seeking to find qualified professionals with specific skillsets.
The only thing I’m not sure about is how much traction some of the service platforms such as BizTalk Server, MS Office Project Server, and SharePoint are likely to gain. I suspect that in these areas we’ll see fewer certified professionals and a greater proliferation of other platform focused credentials as they come and go on the MS product landscape.