Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) credentials are offered by the vendor Microsoft and are designed to prove that an individual has achieved a particular level of knowledge and skill with using Microsoft systems. While there are no degree programs that can prepare individuals to sit for these examinations, some universities and colleges do offer certificate programs that can provide the necessary preparation. With that in mind, hands-on work with Microsoft programs is an essential part of preparation.
Individuals may choose to pursue at least one of four certification tracks from Microsoft, including those for information technology (IT) professionals, developers, business managers and business professionals. Various certificate programs are offered in these areas. These programs have very few standard educational prerequisites, although candidates should have a working understanding of computer operating systems. Some of the certificate programs only accept candidates who have already earned a baccalaureate degree in information technology.
Microsoft Certified Professional Certificate Programs
These programs can contain many different courses, depending on what particular certification students are preparing to take. Some commonly found courses include:
- Windows-based client development
- Web-based client development
- Visual applications
- Microsoft network infrastructure
- Windows active directory
- Network administration
Popular Career Options
Career options can vary widely for MCPs based on which certification they decide to pursue. Here are some job titles MCPs may hold:
- Web developer
- Microsoft server consultant
- System architect
- Technology trainer
- Network administrator
Microsoft certifications are available to a diverse range of professionals, from entry-level IT professionals to managers. Depending on the certification, individuals may be required to demonstrate basic computer hardware knowledge, competency in deploying IT infrastructures and the ability to design solutions to complex business problems (www.microsoft.com). The MCP designation encompasses the following levels of certification, from highest to lowest:
- Microsoft certified architect (MCA)
- Microsoft certified master (MCM)
- Microsoft certified IT professional (MCITP)
- Microsoft certified professional developer (MCPD)
- Microsoft certified technology specialist (MCTS)
- Microsoft technology associate (MTA)
Certifications in the technology series focus on specific Microsoft technologies and are usually a prerequisite for professional-level exams. Professional series certifications are designed specifically for software developers developing .NET applications. The master series provides certificates for very experienced IT professionals who work with Microsoft server products, while the architect series is an advanced certification designed for practicing IT enterprise architects.
Employees whose work depends on the use of Microsoft programs and software may be able to advance their careers and qualify for better positions by earning one of the various MCP designations. Individuals may prepare for MCP exams by attending a university or college certificate program, though it is not a requirement.