The New Generation of Microsoft Certifications

August 30, 2007 – 7:21 pm

So I was out in Redmond this week working on a new exam (that I can’t tell you about yet) and while there I got a better understanding of the new Technical Specialist Exams.  Up till now I had not realized how big the changes were in the new certifications and  I’m actually very pleased as they really fit my own business model. 

My model is not too different than many other small IT companies.  I have 4 customer facing roles in my company.   Sometimes the same person plays multiple roles but for this blog lets assume they are different people OK?  I’ll share the roles and limit the functions related to this topic as to not write a whole job description.

Business Account Manager: Discuss the business goals and helps estimate the technology resources and budget needed to accomplish those goals. 

Senior Engineer: Provided high level support as a specialist in x technology but has a comprehensive understanding of all technologies supporting their speciality.  Examples include specialize in SBS, Networking or CRM.

Technical Account Manager - Responsible for turning customer goals into projects and tasks that meet the business requirements within the budget.  Assigns tasks to Senior Engineers and Field Technician or themselves.

Field Technician - Has a good set of technical skills usually in a specific area like servers or desktops.

Now look at this image of the new certification stack:

Italics are quotes from MS Learning

The Technology Series certifications enable professionals to target specific technologies and distinguish themselves by demonstrating in-depth knowledge and expertise in the broad range of specialized technologies. Microsoft Technology Specialists are consistently capable of implementing, building, troubleshooting, and debugging a particular Microsoft technology. 

Perfect for my Field Technicians who need to focus on the technology and not how if fits the business model.

Professional Series credentials validate a comprehensive set of skills required to be successful on the job. These skills include design, project management, operations management, and planning, and they are contextual to the job role. By validating a more comprehensive set of skills, these credentials give candidates and their hiring managers a reliable indicator of on-the-job performance.

Combine a Pro cert with some understanding on business process and licensing and you have a great Technical Account Manager. 

The Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA) program identifies top industry experts in IT architecture. These prestigious professionals have a minimum of ten years of advanced IT industry experience, have three or more years of experience as a practicing architect, possess strong technical and managerial skills, and form an elite community. Unlike other industry certifications, this credential was built and is granted by the architect community. Candidates must pass a rigorous review by the Review Board, which consists of previously certified peer architects.

The MCA I’m told only includes about 40 people right now and they have plans to limit it to a few hundred.  My hope is that the gap in between MCA and MCP will provide a spot for MCP’s with good business assessment knowledge.  You know, sort of an x Business Specialist (x could be small, medium or vertical market). 

Why this whole stacked cert model really makes me happy is now the MCP will mean something.  I’m afraid the MCPs just weren’t that good as they often tried to include too many things (you know exactly the one I’m thinking of right now don’t you? ;-))  Now the TSs are focused and can combine to build a meaningful MCP certification. 

What do the “new” certifications mean to the future requirements of becoming or remaining an SBSC?  Stay tuned…

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