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Welcome to the New Microsoft Certification Program

What’s changed? The names of certifications, therapy the way the program is structured, erectile the scope of material covered by each certification, recertification requirements – essentially, everything!

A new head-to-toe makeover of the Microsoft certification program leaves little untouched. In fact, there’s so much change, it’s closer to a replacement that a revamping of the existing program.  There’s a lot to take in,  but here’s the big picture stuff you’ll want to know right away:

Why Did Microsoft Change Its Certification Program?

There’s probably a hundred-page rationale in a Word document somewhere, but here’s our digest version of what Microsoft hopes to achieve with these drastic changes to its certification program:

  • Make it easier for hiring managers to identify credentials that match their organization’s needs.
  • Make it easier for IT professionals to organize their certification plans to match their own career path.
  • Give IT pros and their employers credentials relevant to THE CLOUD and help them reach it with Microsoft technologies.  This is most directly addressed by Microsoft’s reinvention of  the MCSE as a go-to IT certification for multi-technology, multi-platform expertise.

Key Components of the Restructured Program

  1. A simplified certification framework that:
     - organizes credentials into 3 main skill levels: Associate, Expert, and Master.
     - relies on familiar certification names easily recognized by hiring managers and employers
  2. New certifications requiring broader coverage of multiple technologies, and not tied to specific product versions.
  3. Recertification requirements to ensure skill currency.

Goodbye MCITP, Welcome Back MCSE

A new naming scheme clearly identifies the skill level of each certification as either Associate, Expert, or Master.  The existing MCTS, MCITP, MCPD, and MCSA certifications are essentially being scrapped in favor of these new designations:

Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)
Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)
Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD)
Microsoft Certified Solutions Master (MCSM)

This will greatly simplify things from the hiring side, making immediately obvious what skill level a credential is intended to indicate. This is an important step in addressing the issue of marketplace confusion that has resulted from the profusion of IT certification options, and a top certification pain points.

Microsoft has also wisely chosen to re-embrace some of it’s more well-known but semi-retired acronyms. The MCSE, an credential still ingrained in the minds of recruiters and IT pros despite being set aside by Microsoft years ago, is once again an active part of the Microsoft certification lexicon.

MCSE Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer
MCSA Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator
MCSD Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer Microsoft Certified Solution Developer

Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) has been renamed to Microsoft Certified Solutions Master (MCSM) to fit the new naming scheme, but the requirements are unchanged.

While Microsoft is quick to point out that the existing MCTS, MCITP, MCPD, and MCSA credentials still have value, no new exams will be developed under these titles. Over time, these certifications will retire and will transition to a legacy status. What does that mean? Typically legacy certifications are still considered valid but can no longer be longer earned by new candidates.

What’s Next?

There’s a lot to learn about this Microsoft certification overhaul. Although no changes have been made (yet) to the Microsoft Office certifications, Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) student credential, or Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA) programs.  Essentially every other certification is affected.

- Use our handy Microsoft old-to-new certification map to see how your current Microsoft certification fits into the new program structure.

- You can also head over to the Microsoft certification website and start trolling through the FAQs for the various credentials.