In yesterday’s blog on the MS IT Academy I alluded to a conversation with Microsoft that I held on Tuesday, December 14 with various employees of Microsoft Learning. Present on that same call was Don Field, Senior Director of Microsoft certification programs. After I finished up with the other participants in the call, I had a chance to quiz him on all kinds of subjects. The one I’ll write about today (I’m saving some other goodies for future blogs) has to do with the new Microsoft Technology Associate certification, introduced in July of 2010, as a new entry-level credential in the Microsoft certification portfolio.
Let me be brutally honest about the MTA certification: most of the people who read this blog are waaaaaaaaaay beyond this credential. The key to understanding the MTA, and why it’s still probably good to know about, especially for those with kids in school, lies in its level and target audience descriptions on the MTA certification page:
Level: Knowledge and basic understanding of key technology concepts
Audience: Students, technology educators, and entry-level IT staff of accredited academic institutions
It’s just what it sounds like: a starter cert aimed at people who are still in (or work at) a school of some kind, to make sure they understand and can apply technology fundamentals. In talking to Mr. Field, I learned that the MTA is popular at the high school level, and also at 2-year post-secondary institutions of all kinds (technical schools, community colleges, and so forth).
At some level, the MTA is a lot like the entry-level Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) credentials (on Office, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, and so forth) right down to the partnership with Certiport for delivery of materials and testing services. For institutions, an MTA Campus License entitles them to deliver up to 1,000 exams per year, which may be made available to students, staff, and faculty.
The program includes both developer and IT professional exams. On the developer side the following fundamentals get covered: software development (exam 98-361), Windows development (exam 98-362), Web development (exam 98-363), and database administration (exam 98-364). On the IT professional side you’ll encounter these fundamentals exams: networking (exam 98-366), security (exam 98-367), and Windows Server administration (exam 98-365).
If you’ve got a kid in school somewhere, it might be worth exploring whether or not that institution supports the MTA program. If they don’t, perhaps some parental encouragement is in order. If they do, perhaps a different kind of parental encouragement will be needed: talking the student in question into looking into, and possibly pursuing, one or more MTA credentials.