If you follow tech news, you’ve likely heard about Microsoft’s new role-based certifications, but what are they, and what could they mean for your career?
In early 2019 Microsoft launched new certifications designed to offer career-focused qualifications specifically designed to neatly align with existing job roles.
While of course these new ‘role-based certifications’ do not replace Microsoft’s existing specialist certifications, they do offer an exciting new opportunity to become Microsoft-certified in skills and knowledge integral to your specific job role.
So, what exactly are these new ‘role-based certifications’, and what does the term even mean?
In this article we’ll be taking a closer look, and providing a general overview to everything you need to know.
Why the Change?
The first thing you may find yourself asking is why the change? Microsoft’s previous certifications have been more than successful, and result in highly knowledgeable individuals, right?
Microsoft defines this need to change as “keeping pace with today’s technical roles and requirements”, and when you think about this, the reasoning for role-based certifications becomes clear.
Within any company, be this tech-based or otherwise, IT roles are no longer so general as ‘administrator’ or ‘engineer’. Instead, each of these titles have sub headings such as ‘security systems engineer’, and some even subcategorize further and further into highly niche and specific roles.
It is these specific career roles that Microsoft aims to target with the new certifications rollout, aiming to provide training that is more focused and job specific instead of a general overview of a career sector.
Are the Standard Certifications Being Phased Out?
Absolutely not! Microsoft is not aiming to replace its traditional certifications, instead the role-based certifications are aimed to offer an alternative option to those who require it.
The courses most likely to be affected by the introduction of the role-based certifications are those niche certifications which will be covered by the new courses, or those which reflect processes that are now deemed out of date.
Examples of some of the courses retired in late 2018, for example, include:
- MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure
- MCSA: Cloud Platform
- MCSA: Linux on Azure
What’s new with the role-based certifications?
Microsoft has made navigating the new role-based certifications simple, breaking them down into four clear headings:
- Apps and Infrastructure
- Data and AI
- Modern Workplace
- Business Apps
In terms of the courses found under these headings, and who they may appeal to, we’ve created a simple table below to help give some insight:
|Apps & Infrastructure||Azure-focused certifications||Tailored to careers that work with building, developing, as well as securing Azure infrastructure, as well as providing troubleshooting solutions.|
|Data & AI||Azure based, but focused on data work||Data scientists, business analysts.|
|Modern Workplace||Covering products such as Microsoft 365, Office 365, SharePoint, OneDrive, Team, and Azure AD||Tailored to careers focused on operational efficiency and organizational collaboration.|
|Business Apps||Microsoft Dynamics 365||Functional consultants|
Role Based Certification Levels
The new role-based certifications also come with all new certification levels, designed to make Microsoft certification more approachable to a range of skill levels, as well as give employers a more detailed picture of a prospective employees’ proficiency.
While this did occur within the older system, with the MTA being viewed as entry-level, MSCA as intermediate, and MSCE as advanced, the new system provides greater clarity and helps simplify the distinctions which are as follows:
- Level 1: Fundamentals
- Level 2: Associate
- Level 3: Expert
The MTA now represents level 1 of Microsoft’s new role-based certification ladder, and qualifications at this level are ideal for those taking their first steps in IT.
They have no required pre-qualification, and will cover the basics of technological understanding, both practical and in theory. Put simply, they set participants up with a strong foundation of which they can build upon.
This intermediate level is ideal for those who have some prior experience working with technology, or who already have some theoretical knowledge of it. If you have this, then you can skip over the fundamentals level certificate, and begin your certification journey at associate level.
Certifications at this level will work with more advanced skills, and an MCA/Associate must be taken before individuals can gain an expert level qualification.
This is the highest-level qualification that participants can gain, and is tailored to IT professionals seeking career progression, or to specialize at an advanced level. Participants must have already achieved an associate level certification before undertaking and expert level course.
Oftentimes, a shake up in the infrastructure of a business that is already operating well can send shivers of doubt through us. We can all think of times when a business has needlessly introduced new measures, which unintentionally hindered the previously smooth operations we so enjoyed.
In the case of Microsoft’s new role-based certification system, however, this could not be further from the truth.
With this new qualification system, Microsoft is offering a great improvement, simplifying course levels, and aligning their certifications to best suit careers, instead of general overviews.
All in all, the role-based certifications off an exciting opportunity thousands of budding professionals are sure to seize with both hands.