Microsoft is the leader in computer and server operating systems worldwide. If you are going to work in IT, whether in client or server, the chances are good that you will end up supporting Windows. Because of this, it is highly recommended that you get at least one Microsoft certification. Microsoft certifications can be broken down into two categories, server and client. There are currently five different certification types:
Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA)
Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)
Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD)*
Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)*
Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS)
Microsoft Technology Associate is a good place to start if you are new to Microsoft certifications. If you are new to Server Windows support, we recommend starting here for your Microsoft certs. There are three different MTA certifications; IT Infrastructure, Database, Developer, all of which are server certifications.
- MTA: IT Infrastructure helps you learn the basics you will need to understand to support servers. This certification will be the most useful if you want to have a career supporting servers.
- MTA: Database covers the fundamentals that you would want to learn before moving on to an MCSA for SQL server.
- MTA: Developer goes over the basics that you would want to know before moving on to an MCSD.
Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate will be the next step after getting the corresponding MTA. MTA’s are not required to take the MCSA tests. We will go over eight MCSA’s, but we will not cover all of the MCSA’s (there are fifteen). For a full list see Microsoft’s Certification list.
- MCSA: Windows Server 2016 is the second step after obtaining your MTA: IT Infrastructure. It will give you the general knowledge to administer and support Windows 2016 servers.
- MCSA: Windows Server 2012 is the second step after obtaining your MTA: IT Infrastructure. It will give you the general knowledge to administer and support Windows 2012 servers.
- MCSA: Cloud Platform, is the second step after obtaining your MTA: IT Infrastructure. Cloud Platform verifies that you can design and operate an Azure solution.
- MCSA: Windows 10 is the second step after obtaining your MTA: IT Infrastructure and MTA: Developer. It will show that you can install and configure and support the latest client OS.
- MCSA: Office 365 is the second step after obtaining your MTA: IT Infrastructure and MTA: Developer. Office 365 certifies that you can design, setup, and support an Office 365 environment.
- MCSA: SQL 2016 Database Administration is the second step after obtaining your MTA: Database and MTA: Developer. Database Administration verifies that you can setup, configure and support a SQL database.
- MCSA: SQL 2016 Database Development is the second step after obtaining your MTA: Database and MTA: Developer. It covers queries, files, tables, and functionality of SQL. We recommend you first get your MCSA in SQL 2016 Database Administration.
- MCSA: SQL Server 2012/2014 is the second step after receiving your MTA: IT Infrastructure and MTA: Developer. This certification covers a broad range of topics, from setup, support, and configuration, as well as creating Business Intelligence solution. Think of it as a combination of the two SQL 2016 MCSA’s for 2012/2014. Obviously, there are fewer tests and less information.
Microsoft Office Specialist is an excellent certification for anyone who is working in client support where there is heavy Microsoft Office usage. This level of knowledge for Office is not necessary for a system administrator in most cases.
- Microsoft Office Specialist 2016 certifies that you have a high degree of knowledge in one or more of the Office products; Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook.
- Microsoft Office Specialist Expert 2016 verifies that you have an expert level of knowledge in Word or Excel.
- Microsoft Office Specialist Master 2016 shows that you have a mastery of Outlook and Access, as well as Word and Excel. MOS Expert is a prerequisite.
Whatever you decide to get, we believe that a Microsoft certification will greatly enhance your career in the industry.
*Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer and Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert will be covered in a later section.