Fully online certification programs offered through Microsoft and its authorized partners provide training in areas including cyber security, systems administration, application development and desktop support. Entrance requirements vary by venue; however, applicants generally must possess an associate's or bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. Additionally, some programs require professional work experience. Students may also need to have access to certain software or programming tools for some assignments. Upon successful completion of a program, individuals earn a certificate and are prepared to sit for an exam applicable to their specialty subject.
Online Microsoft Certification Programs Overview
IT professionals may enroll in Microsoft certification programs to enhance their administrative training and operational skills. Students develop proficiency in areas such as software design, network and systems engineering, web development, and database administration.
Program Information and Requirements
Students use online learning management systems, such as Blackboard, to complete and submit required coursework as well as interact with professors and peers through discussion boards and chat rooms. In addition to that, students may be required to equip their computers with specific software or programming tools needed for class assignments.
Partial List of Online Microsoft Certification Programs
Following is a partial list of Microsoft certification programs that are available online. A complete list of certification requirements and titles is available through Microsoft.
Microsoft Technical Associate (MTA)
This program is primarily geared for beginners in the IT field. Coursework introduces topics from three separate tracks: IT Infrastructure, Database, and Developer. Lessons cover subjects like desktop or server infrastructure; private cloud computing; data platform administration; and software development fundamentals. Upon completing the coursework, students get to choose (from a number of MTA certification exams) the final test that best suits their interests and career goals.
Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD)
Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)
This program is geared to senior-level IT professionals who have years of experience in Microsoft technologies. Students may choose from multiple tracks in terms of specialty study. In fact, there are nine different academic paths within this program. These include Server Infrastructure; Desktop Infrastructure; Private Cloud; Enterprise Devices and Apps; Data Platform; Business Intelligence; Messaging; Communication; and SharePoint. Certification prerequisites vary between the tracks as does the course material. Lessons cover things like SQL Server, data warehouse, and business intelligence.
Microsoft's online certification programs prepare learners to fill a variety of in-demand roles, including that of web developer, network and systems administrator, and software developer. Job growth for software developers, in particular, is projected to rise 17% over the decade spanning 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The median annual salary for a software developer was $100,690 as of May 2015, per the BLS.
Like software developers, web developer jobs are expected to expand. The BLS indicated that the job growth rate for web developers should be 27% between 2014 and 2024. Web developers earned a median annual salary of $64,970 as of May 2015, according to the BLS. Meanwhile, jobs for network and systems administrators will increase 8% between 2014 and 2024, reported the BLS. Those professionals earned a median annual salary of $77,810 as of May 2015, according to the BLS.
Online training programs are available for both beginning Microsoft software users and those with previous experience with this technology. Certificate-holders can apply their skills to jobs in the field of information technology.