Microsoft's credentials program offers several “Certified Professional” qualifications, relating to specific Microsoft programs. You may take one or more exams to prove your ability in either one specific, or more often, a large variety, of Microsoft programs. If you're interested in becoming a Microsoft expert, this might be the qualification for you!
A Microsoft Certified Professional, or MCP for short, is an individual who is certified in one or more of Microsoft's products, and is able to install, maintain, troubleshoot and bug fix such technology, usually on the behalf of numerous users, as part of a company structure. They are also able to answer user questions and queries, usually in regard to errors and issues with Microsoft software.
Although the precise specifications for candidates vary from course to course, all candidates are expected to have a strong aptitude toward computers, programs and technology, along with excellent written and oral communication skills, and a certain amount of patience. This is critical to customer interaction, as your clients and systems users are unlikely to have the same level of expertise as you. You must be able to communicate your technical knowledge into lay terms, and avoid becoming frustrated with those who have less computer literacy or technical skill.
There are many different paths under the umbrella term of “Microsoft Certified Professional”, so candidates should chose which qualification or qualifications they feel best suit them, according to their needs, job prospects and interests. The different courses offered are regularly updated with new product releases, but include:
Candidates should bear in mind that different certifications require different levels of knowledge and expertise, as well as different amounts of experience (for example, a Certified Professional Developer is required to have 2 years' experience working with Microsoft development tools, whereas a Certified Systems Administrator must have 1 year of experience working with networks and servers). Different certifications can also lead to different careers, so choose wisely and be sure to read up on the specifics of any course you are considering.
For all certifications, you must pass one or more exams to gain the qualification, however, there a a variety of ways to study and prepare for the exam or exams you will take. These include instructor-led training, practice tests, self-paced training kits and Microsoft Press books. Although some may prefer instructor-led training, Microsoft recommends a self-study method, and offers preparation guides for each exam, which include a list of relevant skills students can practice.
Once you feel prepared with the knowledge you need to pass the exam, you will be required to pay an exam fee. The fee is charged per exam, a factor students must especially take into account if they are considering taking multiple exams or qualifications. The exams will consist of 45-90 multiple choice questions, and though candidates may resit in cases of failure, the exam fee will be payable every time you sit the exam. Please note that some qualifications require the student to sit and pass more than one exam (for example, the Microsoft Certified Professional Developer credential, which requires 5 exams, including 1 elective exam).
Due to the variety of certifications available, the career prospects for Microsoft Certified Professionals can vary greatly, though are usually extremely rewarding. Careers for MCPs can include IT professionals, technology trainers, developers and system architects, dependent on the certification or certifications they gain, other academic qualifications, experience and personal interest and expertise. Most MCPs, however, are able to find rewarding careers, and according to Payscale, the salary range for Microsoft Certified Professionals is between $50,826 and $85,790 per year.
Here is a brief description of a common role those with MCP certification may find themselves qualified for – a career in software engineering.
Software engineers design, fix and edit software for a wide variety of applications, from online banking to the apps on your cell phone. As a software engineer with an MCSE, your role would be focused on the maintenance of the networks and servers your company uses, through the following methods: