If you’re considering taking a Microsoft Official Curriculum course (or your company is considering sending you to one) you should know that it’s a good choice for both of you.
The most obvious benefit of taking a Microsoft Official Curriculum (MOC) course is that you’re getting information about Microsoft technologies from the source. Coupled with an instructor who can show you how to leverage those technologies to solve problems back at work, a MOC course can be an immediate benefit to your career…and to your organization.
For example, I teach Learning Tree’s Developing ASP.NET MVC 4 Web Application course which provides a thorough grounding for developers creating web-based applications using Microsoft’s current toolset. And I do mean “current”: As part of the course, you create an Azure SQL Database and use it as your application’s data source when you deploy your application to the cloud. The course does an excellent job of covering everything a developer needs to know to build an ASP.NET MVC application — and I say that as someone who makes his living building ASP.NET MVC applications for my clients.
But MOC courses are also tied to Microsoft’s certifications. The ASP.NET MVC course, for example, has a related certification exam. The course, however, doesn’t cover all the topics on the exam; some additional self-study or real-world experience is required to enable you to pass the exam and become a Microsoft Certified Professional. One of the benefits of taking a MOC course is that it puts you in a position to decide what additional topics you’ll want to study on your own.
When it comes to certification, a single MOC course is the start of your certification process, not the end. For example, while passing one exam will make you a Microsoft Certified Professional, you may want to go further and gain certification in a specific field. The ASP.NET course can lead you to Microsoft’s Web Application Developer certification, if you broaden your knowledge with, for example, the Programming in C# course and its related exam. In fact, the number of options you have can be confusing, so Learning Tree created a Microsoft Certification Portal just to help with that.
But, even after you pick an option that makes sense to you, certification must sound daunting — you have to wonder if it’s worth the effort.
I think it is but, then, I’m probably the wrong person to talk about seeking certification. Twenty years ago, I was an early adopter for the Microsoft Certified Solution Developer certification. Currently, I’m a charter member (as a Microsoft Certified Solution Associate) in Microsoft’s Web development certification…and I’m working on my database designer certification. Obviously, I like gaining certifications.
But I’ve invested the time and effort in gaining these certifications because they have contributed to my 20-odd year career as an independent consultant. I’m not alone in believing that: 65% of professionals say certifications directly helped them in their career. And when they say “helped them,” they mean something very practical: 20% of respondents got a raise by being certified, 19% got a job, and 14% got a promotion.
Those results aren’t surprising. Over 50% of managers who hire professionals assume that a certification shows how committed you are to your career in IT, while also demonstrating your expertise in the area. They also felt that seeking out certification showed your initiative within your field.
These are all good things for a hiring manager to think of you. In fact, 91% of hiring managers consider certifications when hiring and 86% actually prefer hiring professionals with certifications. In addition, 60% of IT managers prefer Microsoft certificates to any other. Having a Microsoft Office Specialist certification, for example (like the one related to Learning Tree’s Excel data analysis courses) increases your chances of getting hired by five times!
And once you are hired, by the way, certified professionals also get paid 15% more than their peers.
It’s not an accident that organizations want to hire certified professionals. To begin with, certified professionals are more productive than their peers by getting up to speed faster and producing solutions more quickly. For the companies that employ them, this means an almost 60% better time-to-market and two-thirds more applications delivered on-budget. Employees with certifications in Powershell and Windows Server provide real benefits for organizations — a 56% reduction in unplanned downtime when problems occur, just to pick one example.
MOC courses and certifications also future-proof organizations. As Ashley Blood at Tech-Recipes says about Windows 10 certification, “the bottom line is that those who wish to…prepare for a future shift to the newer Windows versions should take the required [Windows 10] courses, expand their knowledge base and then take the exams.” This future-proofing extends to the move to cloud computing. To quote Andy McMurray of IT Pro | Australia, “Technology out there is changing; the shift to cloud-based computing is a complete paradigm shift from what we’re used to over the last 10 years. The MCSE in the private cloud really takes that on board and ensures that anyone with that certification has the skills and knowledge to tackle these IT projects coming in over the next five years.”
One last note: if your boss is worried that paying for your certification and related training might encourage you to move onto your next job…well, you can report that (according to IDC) 43% of hiring managers said that helping employees get certified improved employee retention.
Microsoft Official Curriculum courses and certifications are good for everybody.
To learn more about Learning Tree MOC training and getting Microsoft certified, visit Learning Tree’s Microsoft Certification Portal.