Microsoft revises individual certifications

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Microsoft has announced a revised lineup of individual certifications with a sharper focus on acknowledging IT staff for their deeper skills and expertise.

Kerstin Baxter, partner group director at Microsoft, said the vendor was rolling out a "new generation" of individual certifications for staff within partner and reseller organisations.

The new certifications include Microsoft Certified Technical Specialist (MCTS), the next level Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCIP) or Professional Developer (MCPD) qualifications, and, at the top, the Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA).

"MCTS really focuses on rewarding and acknowledging those individuals who go much deeper around the technology and then sitting on top of that are the Microsoft Certified IT Professionals," Baxter said. "We're quite excited about it."

Microsoft was starting to recognise the types of jobs and their associated knowledge around the technologies involved and around the particular job roles, she said.

SQL Server, for example, involved knowledge areas around development, solutions and database administration, she said.

Baxter said the premier certification was the Microsoft Certified Architect. That was a "very difficult" certification because candidates needed almost 10 years of working in the industry, and three years in a more specific area before sitting in front of a review board.

Exams would be available from early 2006, she said.

"We're announcing it now because it's going to be used with our Visual Studio and SQL and BizTalk launches," she said.

Baxter said Microsoft had asked itself what people were really looking for when they set out to hire IT staff. The actual technology skills associated with a particular product were just a component in the overall skill set, she pointed out.

"It's more about what you do with the SQL skills. IT professionals are really not just focused on the core technology but operational processes and procedures," she said.

Baxter said the rollout would have "minimal impact" on existing certifications. The existing certifications would remain valid and usable until the products hit end of life, she said.

"Then, as new products come on board, they'll just slip into new certifications," Baxter said.

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