Hey! I’m back from vacation, and have to apologize for tardy reporting on Microsoft’s launch of a new family of certifications called the Microsoft Technology Association, or MTA. You can get a reasonably complete picture of the MTA program from Microsoft’s own materials on its MTA pages (please note there are separate tabs for the program overview, a certfication discussion, and a FAQ).
To me, what makes the MTA interesting is its target audience — students still in school, primarily at the high-school level, though I have to guess it will also appeal to community college kids who didn’t get (or take) the chance to pursue MTA stuff in high school as well. MS has designed this program for the classroom, so that it can integrate into curricula in these institutions, and so that testing can be delivered in the classroom (that is, online) rather than requiring candidates to trek to the nearest Prometric testing center to finish up the final step in earning one of these certifications.
MTA credentials fall into two tracks, one for aspiring software developers, the other for would-be IT professionals. On the development side, there are “fundamentals exams” for basic software development , Windows development , Web development, and database administration. On the IT professional track, fundamentals exams cover basic networking, security, and Windows server administration topics. According to Anne Martinez’ recent reporting on this program, these credentials focus on “80% knowledge and 20% skills,” and define a new entry point into the many and varied Microsoft certification programs already available. This may or may not represent Microsoft borrowing a valuable page from the Cisco Academy approach of breaking the CCNA exam into two parts (ICND 1 and ICND 2) for use in its own high-school oriented offerings, in an attempt to catch ’em ever younger and earlier in their life and career stages, or it may just be a logical extension of the company’s own ongoing attempts to provide useful learning and certification programs for as many population sectors as possible.