By now, most in the IT field are aware of the value of Microsoft certification, as being certified can go a long way in proving to employers that you have the right skills for the job. Not all certifications are created equal, however, and as more companies make the move to Windows Server 2008 or even R2, those old MCSA or MCSE certs might begin to look a little dated.
So what do you do? Well after a little investigation, you’ll find that those previous certifications no longer exist for Windows 2008. Fortunately, Microsoft offers some pretty straightforward upgrade paths for those currently holding an MCSA or MCSE for Windows Server 2003.
If you so desire, these paths will help you make your way through the four current certification series provided by Microsoft. The first step up is to Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS). While this will make you Windows 2008 certified, most current MCSAs and MCSEs will likely want to shoot for the next step to become a Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP). The reason is that the MCITP is much more like the Windows 2008 equivalent to the pervious Windows Server certs, which is why the suggested upgrade path takes you up to that point.
Didn’t I say there were four Microsoft certification series for Windows Server 2008? Hold your horses, I’m getting there. The truth is, the MCITP will probably be enough to satisfy most admins. Still Microsoft offers a couple more advanced certs for those who have the ambition – Master and Architect.
The Microsoft Certified Master program is a new series that offers advanced technical training for IT pros. You can become a master in Windows Server 2008 (Directory), SQL Server 2008, MOSS 2007, Exchange 2007 or Office Communications Server 2007. These certs are for experienced IT professionals only, and an interview might be required to determine if you are up to snuff (though not in all cases). The training also takes place over three weeks in Redmond on the attendees’ dime, which could scare some folks off.
If you do make your way through the Master program, however, your next step is the Microsoft Certified Architect program, which is the highest cert the company currently gives out. Again, not for the faint of heart, but the opportunities available to an MCA (such as speaking and authoring possibilities) will undoubtedly make it attractive to some. Keep in mind though that the MCM is a prerequisite for the MCA program – you can’t just skip through to the top.
As I stated before, though, if your goal is to simply upgrade your MCSA or MCSE for work with Windows Server 2008, then you likely won’t want to bother with any of the advanced certs. Just follow the upgrade path to earn an MCITP, and keep in mind that the more up-to-date you are with your certs, the more opportunities will open up for you. After all, Microsoft isn’t likely to stop releasing new operating systems any time soon!