What is the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certification? How many MCTS certifications are there? Which one is right for you and what are the benefits?
In this article, we will try to answer all these questions that you may have about this latest certification from Microsoft. We will also help you know what are the job roles and how to prepare for these certifications.
First, if you are confused and puzzled by the changes in Microsoft’s certification structure, let us explain it to you. Now, there is a three-tiered structure of Microsoft certifications:
- The entry-level Technology Specialist (MCTS) certifications.
- The mid-level IT Professional (MCITP)/Professional Developer (MCPD) certifications.
- The advanced level Microsoft certified Architect (MCA) certifications.
The MCTS is at the lowest level of the new certification hierarchy and unlike the older certifications such as MCSE, you have to pass just one to three exams to complete your certification. These certifications are a pre-requisite for the more advanced MCITP and MCPD certifications, for which you have to pass an additional one to two exams.
MCTS certifications prove your in-depth knowledge and skills in a particular field of technology. After passing these certification exams, you will be established as an expert in implementing, building, troubleshooting, and debugging a particular Microsoft technology. An MCTS certification will be retired when mainstream product support for the particular technology expires.
The various MCTS certifications
Currently there are 19 MCTS certifications. Microsoft will add more as it will introduce new technologies. These 19 MCTS certifications that are now live are as follows:
- http://www.ucertify.com/certifications/Microsoft/mcts-windows-vista.html”>MCTS: Windows Vista, Configuration
- MCTS: .NET Framework 2.0 Web Applications
- MCTS: .NET Framework 2.0 Windows Applications
- MCTS: .NET Framework 2.0 Distributed Applications
- MCTS: SQL Server 2005
- MCTS: SQL Server 2005 Business Intelligence
- MCTS: BizTalk Server 2006
- MCTS: Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2005
- MCTS: Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, Configuration
- MCTS: Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, Configuration
- MCTS: Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, Application Development
- MCTS: Windows Mobile 5.0, Applications
- MCTS: Windows Mobile 5.0, Implementing and Managing
- MCTS: Windows Server 2003 Hosted Environments, Configuration, and Management
- MCTS: Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, Application Development
- MCTS: Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, Configuration
- MCTS: Windows Vista and 2007 Microsoft Office System Desktops, Deploying and Maintaining
- MCTS: Managing Projects with Microsoft Office Project 2007
- MCTS: Enterprise Project Management with Microsoft Office Project Server 2007
Which MCTS certification should you choose?
It depends on which of the Microsoft technologies are you expert or want yourself to be recognized as an expert. It also depends on your past experience and your current scope of job, etc. We would suggest you to choose the certification that is relevant to your present job or your future career plans.
If you are new to the IT field, you should choose the one that most closely relates to the career path you have chosen. You may also use the MCTS certification as the first step to get the more advanced certifications. For example, suppose you want to be a database administrator. First, you should obtain the MCTS: SQL Server 2005 certification, which recognizes you as an expert in SQL Server 2005. Now, you may go further and achieve the advanced MCITP: Database Administrator certification.
Job roles for MCTS certified professionals
The MCTS certifications are focused on a particular Microsoft product or technology and do not include job-role skills. After achieving these certifications, you may work as an expert in Microsoft technologies used for Database Administration and Development, Technical support, Application Development, Web and Windows Development, Mobile Applications Development, Enterprise Software Development, etc.
MCTS Certification benefits
The benefits of these certifications are as follows:
- Recognition of your knowledge and proficiency on the Microsoft products and technologies.
- Enhanced employment opportunities and increased salary.
- Exclusive discounts on products and services from Microsoft.
- Invitations to conferences, training sessions, and special events.
Preparation for the MCTS certification exams
Now the big question: how to prepare for the certification exams. To start with, visit the Microsoft learning Website and review the objectives for the particular exam you want to take. Read good study guides, articles and how tos to understand the concepts of the technology covered. Hands-on experience will help you in your preparations as well as in your future career as a technology professional, so set up a lab and try everything from installation to configuring and from troubleshooting to debugging.
Practice is the most important ingredient for success. Although you have studied appropriate books, reviewed effective articles, read tutorials and notes, they will not help you much, if you do not practice at all. Quality Microsoft practice tests provide you an environment of the actual exam and help you discover where you are lacking and how far you are from success. So use them as much as you can and get the confidence to face the real thing.