Microsoft Reinvents Certifications - Again

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Everything old is new again.  Today Microsoft announced that it has reinvented its certification program to directly address technology’s evolution to the cloud.  According to their surveys, "Top of mind for companies today is making sure they have the right skills and people in place to help them fully realize the benefits the cloud has to offer."

To that end, Microsoft is reinventing their certification programs to help hiring managers find people who have the skills they expect in their IT environments, now and in the future.  The revamped program is a completely new approach to ensure certified individuals have the skills required to oversee an organization’s journey to the cloud.  Everyone wants to go to the almighty cloud, right?  Microsoft is betting on it.

According to Microsoft News Center:
The new certification framework has been streamlined to three skill levels to make it easier to navigate:
  • The Associate Level comprises the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) certification, which provides a clear starting point for job seekers early in their technology career. Candidates must prove they have the required skills to hit the ground running. This level represents a foundation and is the prerequisite certification necessary to earn an MCSE.
  • The Expert Level comprises the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) or its developer equivalent, Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD), and is Microsoft’s flagship certification for individuals who want to lead their organization’s transition to the cloud. These certifications recognize IT professionals and developers with broad and deep skill sets across Microsoft solutions.
  • The Master Level is the Microsoft Certified Solutions Master (MCSM) certification that differentiates the select few from their peers and represents the highest bar of knowledge and skills validation.
Microsoft is calling MCSE its flagship credential because it is the level that most people will aspire to, says Don Field, senior director of product management for Microsoft. It validates an individual’s ability to design and build solutions that may integrate multiple technologies, versions and products. These are the new kinds of skills that are needed for the cloud.

Microsoft had to ditch the MCSE (Microsoft Certified System Engineer) certification in 2009, due to several countries and municipalities having a problem with the term "Engineer".  In some locations "Engineer" has a very distinct meaning and is regulated by their governments.  The MCSE certification was replaced with the MCITP (Microsoft Certified IT Professional) certification series and a plethora of very targeted certifications (MCTS).  
This added a ton of confusion, especially for those like me who invested for years in the MCSE certification.  Microsoft Learning went so far as to publish an article, "The MCSE is dead, its time to move on".  Now that they're bringing the MCSE back, I can imagine the new level of confusion this might bring, especially for all those hiring managers.  "Are you a new MCSE or an old MCSE?"

This will undoubtedly cause issues for those who are already on the MCITP track, which can be as many as 7 exams and take a long time to complete.  Microsoft hasn't announced how that transition will happen, or how grandfathering might work.  There are other changes in the new certification tracks that I'm not at liberty to talk about.  Those details will be released by Micosoft later.

As an IT professional who made my career around Microsoft certifications, I have a vested interest in how this all works out.  I have been an MCSE since 1999 with Windows NT4 and followed every twist and turn that Microsoft Learning has thrown my way.  I upgraded all my MCSE and MCP certs to MCITP and MCTS over the years.  I became a Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) Exchange Server just last year.  Now I'm looking at re-branding myself all over.  Again.

What are your thoughts?  Stay tuned for more details...


  1. I just finally started this process, so I guess my timing worked out. They definitely need to provide some more info on the transition. Looking at the MCP site, things like the certification planner aren't up-to-date with these changes.

  2. I've known about this for a while, but my NDA says I can't say anything till it "goes public", as it did on the Microsoft News site today.

    It will take a while for all the details to get worked out and what the transition will look like. It will take even longer for all the websites to get updated. There are a LOT of details to work out. I wouldn't be surprised if the article, "The MCSE is dead, its time to move on" get's yanked sometime soon.

    Good luck on your MCITP, errr MCSE!

  3. @tompacyk just told me he loves the new logos. From bum to superhero to executive. LOL!

  4. And yet I continue to receive mcitp emails in my inbox as recently as 2 days ago telling me how few exams I need for various designations.

    Glad I opted not to act now.

  5. awesome! Nothing is new and everything changes all the time

  6. awesome! Nothing is new and everything changes all the time

  7. I grew attached to my MCSE despite the crowd of "paper" MCSEs out there and was feeling awkward having MCITP:EA title(which I constantly refered to as "MCSE" anyway)

    MCM is spot-on and the "S" looks out of place. Lab tests are great idea!


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