Microsoft announced a new three-tiered certification program that provides valuable training and credentials for IT professionals and developers. The new certifications — Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist, Microsoft Certified IT Professional or Professional Developer, and Microsoft Certified Architect — map closely to Microsoft’s technology road map and better reflect the changing IT environment and the needs of individuals and organizations.
The first credentials will be offered for Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005, which will be available next month, to help Microsoft customers and partners more readily and rapidly adopt these new technologies. Partners will also be able to take advantage of a new level of integration between Microsoft Learning and the Microsoft Partner Program, which will let them apply Microsoft Certified Professional certifications toward multiple Microsoft Solution Competencies.
“Today’s systems require IT professionals and developers to possess more specialized skills,” said Lutz Ziob, general manager for Microsoft Learning. “These new certifications are key to helping customers and partners continuously build the skills they need to successfully adopt and deploy Microsoft technologies.”
The new three-tiered program offers a rigorous, flexible curriculum to enhance technical knowledge and skills; a certification framework that helps individuals demonstrate their unique skills; and a proven benchmark for managers in making successful recruiting and staffing decisions. These more targeted credentials can be achieved with fewer exams, making it more cost-effective for individuals and organizations to validate specific sets of skills. In addition, Microsoft-commissioned research* has shown that organizations can realize substantial improvements in project deployment, system downtime, spending on ad-hoc external IT support, and overall productivity by employing certified staff.
“By focusing on specific job roles and by using performance-based testing, this new certification program is much more in line with the real-life job situation of IT professionals and developers — and should help them create and build more accurate solutions,” said Olivier Nguyen Van Tan, industry analyst and senior consultant with Pierre Audoin Consultants. “Beyond expanding customers’ technology expertise, the utmost value lies in the new synergies with Microsoft’s product strategy, and will be a key factor of customer success in using future product releases.”
The certification process starts with a free individual online assessment to determine a candidate’s areas of strength and weakness, which results in a customized learning plan that directs candidates to specific resources. Candidates can then choose the learning resources that best reflect their needs and learning style. In the next six months, a slate of new materials will be available to help them prepare for certification, including assessments, books and courses that are available on demand, in printed form, and as instructor-led classroom curriculum from Microsoft and its learning partners.
“One of the key things Microsoft has done is to break certification into two parts: understanding the technology and performing specific jobs,” said Thom Griffin, vice president of Technical Services for QuickStart Intelligence Inc., Microsoft Worldwide Learning Partner of the Year. “Our enterprise customers will appreciate the job role emphasis because it will help them assess and better evaluate their staff’s skills. And with fewer exams and reduced cost, the new program provides our customers with an easy way to validate the skills necessary to quickly adopt new technologies as they become available.”
Certifications for Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005 will be available in early 2006. Microsoft will present more information about the credentials and learning resources at a launch event Nov. 7 for the Visual Studio 2005, SQL Server 2005 and BizTalk Server 2006 products.