While Apple’s iOS and Mac products are growing increasingly popular, business today is still undeniably a Windows world, with the vast majority of businesses and corporations using Microsoft programs for their computers and technology. Unlike Cisco Certifications, Microsoft’s are much more diverse and robust at the same time.
Naturally, IT professionals will want to pursue whichever Microsoft certifications path promises the greatest value and is most suitable for them. Although technology does change very fast and does sometimes include previously unforeseen and unknown changes, IT certifications still remain important for both employers and their potential employees. The top Microsoft certifications help IT professionals to add to the value and potential they bring to prospective employers and equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge needed to help businesses cut down costs. The hottest Microsoft certifications are now focusing on virtualization or cloud technology and security. The most highly paid IT jobs fall on those areas.
The following is a list of some of the best Microsoft certifications; a few of these are specific to certain fields, but all are expected to provide more value in the rapidly growing IT industry for the year 2014 and beyond:
Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (or MCSD)
Although it was launched in the year 2012, the MCSD remains a highly valued certification that provides IT professionals with new generation cloud optimization credentials. It is among the highest paying certifications, which is very useful for software developers looking to be in demand in the modern workforce. More and more businesses are looking to increase their efficiency in cost reduction to gain competitive advantages and therefore need IT professionals that hold this certification.
Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (or MCSE)
This is one of the top Microsoft certifications because it allows certified IT professionals to pursue high paying careers in the area of cloud computing as well as various jobs in enterprises. There are several designations of the MCSE certification that one can pursue, and for those really looking to move up the IT career ladder, having multiple designations of MCSE certifications is a good idea. The more you take the better your chances are of attracting potential employers. These MCSE certifications include the following:
• Server infrastructure
• Desktop infrastructure
• Private cloud computing
• Data platform
• Business intelligence
• Share Point
Microsoft Certified IT Professional (or MCITP)
MCITP is a popular Microsoft certification that will validate a comprehensive set of skills needed to perform a more specific job role. These could be roles such as enterprise messaging or a role such as a database administrator. The validation focuses on the capability of an individual to deploy, build, design, optimize, and operate technologies for more specific job roles. An advantage with MCITP certifications is that they actually build on similar technical proficiency as that required for Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist or MCTS certifications. You can therefore earn several MCTS certifications at the same time as you are pursuing your MCITP certifications. Microsoft currently provides up to 15 MCITP certifications, which are listed below:
• MCITP – Enterprise Desktop Support Technician on Windows 7
• MCITP – Enterprise Desktop Administrator on Windows 7
• MCITP – Consumer Support Technician on Windows Vista
• MCITP – Enterprise Support Technician on Windows Vista
• MCITP – Enterprise Administrator on Windows Server 2008
• MCITP – Server Administrator on Windows Server 2008
• MCITP – Virtualization Administrator on Windows Server 2008 R2
• MCITP – Database Administrator 2008
• MCITP – Database Developer 2008
• MCITP – Business Intelligence Developer 2008
• MCITP – Enterprise Project Management with Microsoft Office Project Server 2007
• MCITP – Enterprise Messaging Administrator on Exchange 2010
• MCITP – Enterprise Messaging Administrator on Exchange 2007
• MCITP – SharePoint Administrator 2010
• MCITP – Lync Server Administrator 2010
Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (or MCSA)
This is the Microsoft certification that you will need in order to help validate your abilities in managing and troubleshooting network environments from Windows Server 2003. It builds a comprehensive set of skills suitable for success in job roles such as systems administrator, information systems administrator, network administrator, network operations analyst, technical support specialist, and network technician. This Microsoft certification was previously available on Microsoft Windows 2000 Server certification, which expired in December 2011.
Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (or MCTS)
This is the Microsoft certification that actually replaced the Microsoft Certified Professional or MCP. With the MCP certification you needed to pass exams, but there was no designation. It was for both IT professionals as well as developers. MCTS is one of the popular Microsoft certifications many IT professionals are looking to earn in the year 2014 and beyond. It validates skills on features and functionalities of specific Microsoft technologies. The MCTS certification usually is tied to an end-of-life for the Mainstream Support of the product itself. You can demonstrate your depth in terms of the knowledge of one specific Microsoft technology and earn many MCTS certifications to prove breadth across many different products. You can also build on the MCTS certifications to earn the MCITP certification.
Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (or MCDBA)
Microsoft’s MCDBA is still a well-designed credential that many IT professionals would like to achieve. However, it only covers the versions of the SQL Server up to 2000. Newer versions of the industry’s tech-giant’s database management systems (DBMSs) have now been released and include the SQL Server 2005, the 2008 version, the 2008 R2, the 2012 version and the new SQL Server 2014 (which is just out of the beta version). Nevertheless, this Microsoft certification is still valuable, as some companies still run older software. That by itself does extend the life of all MCDBA related certifications. Those entering into the field who want MS SQL Server as their designation for certification should however consider MCITP: Database Administrator 2008, as it is newer. Even better still, they can go for the next generation credentials like the MCSE: Data Platform and the MCSE: Business Intelligence.
The Microsoft certifications discussed above lead to the highest paying IT jobs, on average. This naturally means that they are high in demand and well worth your while to look into. However, there are still some other certifications that may not be popular but can pay even more. Such certifications are of an exclusive nature, so not everyone may prioritize them without strong reasons. When entering into the IT field, it is strongly recommended – to help maximize the potential longevity, usage, and importance – that you pursue the best of the latest Microsoft certifications. Sometimes your choices may also depend largely on any specific requirements of your company. For that reason, you may also pursue some older IT certifications if they still remain valuable or are requested by a company that will pay you well.
In cases other than those listed above (and a few other special occurrences), the best Microsoft certifications for many individuals should provide the next generation credentials, especially given the fast rate at which technology continues to evolve. Such IT certifications are necessary to help business organizations significantly cut down costs and achieve their much needed competitive advantages. Many companies are looking for skills and expertise to optimize cloud platforms and guard themselves against a myriad of security threats. That is why the latest Microsoft certifications for 2014 will focus strongly on these areas. Understanding the Microsoft certifications path for an individual is also very important for a career progression that leads to even higher paying jobs.