Current IT Certifications

< The Current Major IT Certification Vendor Standards & Exam Editions >

The Current Major IT Certification Vendor Standards & Exams

IT certification is ever-changing. It often doesn't move forwards as quickly as many believe though. Many Microsoft certifications for example have been around for over a decade, BUT the certification will have been updated many times inside that.

Over the last decade Microsoft in particular have been continually overhauling their certification tracks. Long-time qualifications such as MCDBA (Microsoft Certified Database Administrator) have been replaced by newer, more specialised and focused tracks.

Microsoft reworked many of their programs into the MCTS & MCITP group qualifications; 'Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist' and 'Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional'. Programs were also subdivided into individual MOC tests (Microsoft Official Curriculum.) However, most of these exams are now superseded by the re-introduced 'New' MCSA & MCSE certification groups (to confuse things, Microsoft previously used the MCSA and MCSE acronyms for other certifications), and the majority of MCITP exams were retired on 31 July 2014.

The older 'programming' MCAD/MCSD (Microsoft Certified Applications/Solutions Developer) certifications were also superseded by the MCPD (Microsoft Certified Professional Developer), which were available in 'Web' or 'Application' specialities, but are no longer being updated past Visual Studio 2010. The MCSD (Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer) has now replaced all of these, and is available in several areas: 'Windows Store Apps', 'Web Applications', 'Sharepoint Applications', and 'Application Lifecycle Management'.

If all this sounds confusing; don't worry. It isn't actually as complicated as it seems, and the only important thing really is that you're on the right one!

Far too many training companies are still using old certifications, which means you'll end up with an out-of-date qualification, and maybe worse - you might not be able to find anywhere to sit the actual exam without converting it to the new syllabus. It's an expensive business for a training company to keep up to date with Microsoft, CompTIA, Cisco and Adobe certifications.

Make sure your training provider isn't leaving you behind! Sometimes, being bang up-to-date isn't that important, but in some areas it is totally critical.

With Network Administration and Engineering, as stated above, the 'New' MCSA & MCSE tracks have been introduced. Previously, the 'old' MCSE track was universally accepted as a grounding in Windows Server 2000/2003 technology, but then MS Server 2008 & 2012 were released, along with updates to the standard Windows OS from XP to Windows Vista, then Windows 7 and now Windows 8. (Microsoft announced the 2008 server upgrades would be based around a set of MCTS & MCITP exams; virtually all of which have now been retired - and superseded by the new MCSA & MCSE.)

The 'Old vs New' MCSA & MCSE Certifications

Microsoft (in their infinite wisdom - and to many people's confusion) decided to re-use the MCSA/MCSE acronym for their new exams. They originally stood for Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator & Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, and predominantly dealt with the areas of networking, servers and operating systems.

The new acronym now stands for Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate & Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert respectively. By moving to the 'solutions' angle, Microsoft have allowed themselves to rebuild their certification structure to incorporate database, enterprise & communication technologies. It's actually far more stream-lined now and makes more sense in terms of real-world role-specific application.

There are 7 new MCSA groups now (each MCSA has 2-3 required exams that constitute the overall certification) :

  • MCSA: Windows Server 2012
    • 410 : Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012
    • 411 : Administering Windows Server 2012
    • 412 : Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services
  • MCSA: Windows Server 2008
    • 640 : Windows Server 2008 Active Directory, Configuring
    • 642 : Windows Server 2008 Network Infrastructure, Configuring
    • 646 : Windows Server 2008, Server Administrator
  • MCSA: Windows 8
    • 687 : Configuring Windows 8.1
    • 688 : Supporting Windows 8.1
  • MCSA: Windows 7
    • 680 : Windows 7, Configuring
    • 685 : Windows 7, Enterprise Desktop Support Technician
  • MCSA: SQL Server 2012
    • 461 : Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012
    • 462 : Administering Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Databases
    • 463 : Implementing a Data Warehouse with Microsoft SQL Server 2012
  • MCSA: SQL Server 2008
    • 432 : Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Implementation and Maintenance
    • 448 : Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Business Intelligence Development and Maintenance
  • MCSA: Office 365
    • 346 : Managing Office 365 Identities and Requirements
    • 347 : Enabling Office 365 Services

There are 9 new MCSE groups now (each MCSE has 4-5 required exams that constitute the overall certification, with each progressing from an MCSA grouping of 2-3 exams - see above - by adding 2 more exams) :

  • MCSE: Server Infrastructure
    • MCSA: Windows Server 2012 (410, 411, 412)
    • 413 : Designing and Implementing a Server Infrastructure
    • 414 : Implementing an Advanced Server Infrastructure
  • MCSE: Desktop Infrastructure
    • MCSA: Windows Server 2012 (410, 411, 412)
    • 415 : Implementing a Desktop Infrastructure
    • 416 : Implementing Desktop Application Environments
  • MCSE: Private Cloud
    • MCSA: Windows Server 2012 (410, 411, 412)
    • 246 : Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud with System Center 2012
    • 247 : Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud with System Center 2012
  • MCSE: Enterprise Devices and Apps
    • MCSA: Windows 8 (687, 688)
    • 695 : Deploying Windows Devices and Enterprise Apps
    • 696 : Managing Enterprise Devices and Apps
  • MCSE: Data Platform
    • MCSA: SQL Server 2012 (461, 462, 463)
    • 464 : Developing Microsoft SQL Server Databases
    • 465 : Designing Solutions for SQL Server
  • MCSE: Business Intelligence
    • MCSA: SQL Server 2012 (461, 462, 463)
    • 466 : Implementing Data Models and Reports with Microsoft SQL Server
    • 467 : Designing Business Intelligence Solutions with Microsoft SQL Server
  • MCSE: Messaging
    • MCSA: Windows Server 2012 (410, 411, 412)   -or-   MCSA: Office 365 (346, 347)
    • 341 : Core Solutions of Microsoft Exchange Server 2013
    • 342 : Advanced Solutions of Microsoft Exchange Server 2013
  • MCSE: Communication
    • MCSA: Windows Server 2012 (410, 411, 412)   -or-   MCSA: Office 365 (346, 347)
    • 336 : Core Solutions of Microsoft Lync Server 2013
    • 337 : Enterprise Voice & Online Services with Microsoft Lync Server 2013
  • MCSE: SharePoint
    • MCSA: Windows Server 2012 (410, 411, 412)   -or-   MCSA: Office 365 (346, 347)
    • 331 : Core Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013
    • 332 : Advanced Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013

CompTIA now meet ISO guidelines by updating their exams tri-annually (every 3 years). As of 1st January 2011, CompTIA certifications such as CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ & CompTIA Security+ will be valid for three years from the date the candidate became certified.

They've gone through a major push to bring all their certifications up-to-date, and are considered the very best commercial starting point for many IT career tracks. CompTIA A+ used to mean you were immediately interview ready - but now, with increased market competition and a move towards increased network security & awareness, it's wise to have the Network+ (and some Microsoft OS certification as well - such as Windows 7 or 8) to stand out in the CV crowd. Current versions (as of spring 2015) are:

  • CompTIA A+ (2013 exam syllabus) (Exams 220-801 & 220-802)
  • CompTIA Network+ (2011 exam syllabus - retiring 31/08/15) - Exam N10-005
    • NEW : CompTIA Network+ (2015 exam syllabus) - Exam N10-006
  • CompTIA Security+ (2014 exam syllabus) - Exam SY0-401
  • CompTIA Server+ (2009 exam syllabus) - Exam SK0-003
    • CompTIA Server+ (2015-16 beta exam syllabus - not yet launched) - Exam SK0-004
  • CompTIA Linux+ (2009 exam syllabus - retiring 30/08/15) - Exams LX0-101 & LX0-102
    • CompTIA Linux+ (2015 exam syllabus - launches 30/03/15) - Exams LX0-103 & LX0-104
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