You probably know that certifications can help your career, but do you know where to start? Microsoft’s new tiered certifications program makes it easy!
This year Microsoft has rolled out a brand-new certification system known as ‘role-based certifications’. This new approach on getting certified focuses upon more specific job-targeted training, instead of more general sector overviews, and is designed to help develop professionals that are highly knowledgeable in the areas most pertinent to their career pathway.
In combination with this new addition to Microsoft’s certification lineup, new certification levels are also being rolled out. This is a boon for both individuals, as it helps increase their employability, as well as employers, as not only do they gain a more detailed insight to an applicant’s skill set, but also are set to gain a more specialized and skilled addition to their workforce.
However, as with any new rollout, it can be confusing to figure out the changes, and if you decide this new option is suited to you, where to start.
In this article, we’ll be looking at where you should start when it comes to Microsoft’s new certification levels.
Why Certification Levels?
In 2019, Microsoft has introduced certification levels, otherwise known as badges, which breakdown their courses into three tiers. This was implemented for many reasons, which benefit both attendee and prospective employer in a few ways:
- Makes Microsoft courses more accessible to both beginners and IT veterans
- Encourages those of all levels to become certified, helping to produce a clearer industry standard
- Makes it easier for employers to select skilled professionals based on the type of knowledge base they require
- Provides IT professionals with long-term goals for continuing professional development
- Provides greater clarity to skill level of certification
What are the Certification Levels?
Microsoft has actually had their own skill levels within their certification portfolio for some time.
However, due to a lack of clarity combined with the breadth of courses available, this tier system was largely overlooked.
The new certification system provides this much needed clarity, which is as follows:
- Level 1: Fundamentals (MTA)
- Level 2: Associate (MCA, MCSA, MCSD)
- Level 3: Expert (MCE, MCSE)
These tier levels, combined with the new role-based certifications provide a clear career pathway that IT newbies can follow in its entirety to become highly skilled professionals, as well as providing the opportunity for existing professionals to expand on their career knowledge base through the associate and expert levels.
Where Should I Begin?
In regards to where you should start your Microsoft certification journey, the new tier levels make the process simple.
On their website Microsoft even clearly advises you upon where they recommend you start, which we’ve summarized below:
Tier Level: Fundamentals
Requirements: No requirements, the starting point for IT beginners
Microsoft Recommendations: Ideal for individuals just starting their IT career, or individuals looking for a career change.
Tier Level: Associate
Requirements: Two years of comprehensive work experience.
Microsoft Recommendations: It can be helpful to have a related fundamentals certification before undertaking an associate course.
Tier Level: Expert
Requirements: Two to five years of intensive technical experience.
Microsoft Recommendations: While not all, many expert level certifications will require attendees to already possess the related associate certification.
How Should I Prepare for Certification?
Microsoft has also offered some great advice for how best to prepare for your certification course. While some of these suggestions might seem simple, if you’ve been out of the education system for some time or are apprehensive, remembering this simple advice will hopefully make you feel more confident and more prepared to achieve your goals.
Microsoft Learn: If you’re a total newbie with only a layman’s understanding of IT, and are nervous about gaining Microsoft certifications, you can help allay your fears by taking part in free training options through Microsoft Learn.
Microsoft Learn is designed to help anyone learn basic computing concepts at their own pace, as well as providing free access to training materials, code samples, and even the opportunity to test-drive some of Microsoft’s software.
Instructor-Led Training: There are a variety of Microsoft certified learning partners who can help ensure you have the knowledge needed to succeed in your exams. Instructor led training courses are a great option, as they closely mimic the learning environment of a college, helping you to get your head in the game.
Choosing instructor led training is also a great option as it allows you to interact with a seasoned professional, giving you the opportunity to ask questions and work through your weaknesses, as well as build upon your strengths.
Exam Practice: Microsoft truly wants all its certification hopefuls to succeed as part of their wider goal for a highly trained IT community and workforce. With this goal in mind, Microsoft also offers official practice tests that you can take to help prepare for your certification exams.
This can be a great option for those who have been out of education for some time, as sometimes the anxiety surrounding taking tests and exams can have an impact on overall performance, regardless of the strong knowledge base you no doubt have.
Allaying these anxieties in advance can help ensure when it comes to your exam you’re focused, confident, and sure to succeed.