Time for certs, and some professional development

Its been ages since I did anything in the form of training.

I always loved collecting many of the Microsoft Press books, many of them training books that would lead to official certs, but I would never put the time in to actually train for them.All I ever managed to get was MSCA 2003 and the Exchange 2003 exam.

My enthusiasm about the new job is such that I think now is a good time to invest myself again.There are several products we use at the job that I am currently less than familiar with, Exchange 2007 and VMware being the main ones here, and I could seriously use a bit more depth in other areas like Citrix.

Things have changed significantly in MS cert land since I last had a look around. MSCE no longer exists, instead, Microsoft has chosen to go mainly product-specific. You are able to get a basic cert in just about any MS product, which leads you to become a MCTS or Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist. You can then chose to go deeper and becomes MCITP or Microsoft Certified IT Professional. This latter one is more like the old MCSA, but its still more oriencted towards a specific technology group that MCSA used to be.They are broader, and usually combine 2 MCTS certs with specific MCITP exam.

Its funny though, the MCTS or MCITP are not well known at all yet. Almost no where durign the last 6 months of job hunting, did I come across these terms in job positions. Its gonna take several years for these certs to gain that value that comes of managers and recruiters being "familiar" with them. That is never a strong reason for myself to go for these though.

For me, these certs, but more specifically, the training that goes with them, is a structured way for me to invest myself. I could learn just as much from the internet, all the info is out there, aswell as other great books that are not specifically training books (I love the MS resource kits for example). But I never approach these materials in a structured way.

For myself, based on my own interests but also the job I am now in, the following certs seem the most interesting to me:

MCTS: Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 – Configuration, Exam 70-236
This one comes mostly from the fact that at the job, we run this, and neither me nor my collegue know much about it. As with almost all of the infrastructure, it was built by a third-party, and there has been no time to really get into it.
My own relationship with Exchange has always been a little strange. I have had a distant interest in the technology, but never really got the chance to work with it consistantly.

To this day, I am annoyed at my lack of experience with any version of Exchange. I won't claim its my first choice for training from the standpoint of personal interest, however going for this one first has 2 large advantages: 1. We are currently working with the product and are unable to adequately support it. 2. It will be a nice introductory for myself back into the MS training scene.

I also plan to get this cert completely on my own. Self-study, and probably even pay for the exam myself. I want to use it as leverage, to show that i am willing and eager. That way, when I ask them to send me on a VMware course, it will be an easier descision for them. In other words, I want to give them this one as a freeby, while giving myself the breathing room to get back into the routine without any external pressures.

MCTS Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-236): Configuring Microsoft® Exchange Server 2007

To this end, I am ordering the self-paced training book from Amazon this afternoon.

Transition path from MCSA on Windows Server 2003 to MCITP:
I am MCSA+Messaging, and of course there is a transition path to take.
This consists of transision Exam 70-648 which leads to two MCTS certifications:

And then a, what they call "Professional series exam", Exam 70-646, which leads to: MCITP: Server Administrator. The way its described, seems to place it a little beyond the MCSA level, but not exactly MCSE.

The books that go with this are:

MCITP Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-646): Windows Server® 2008 Administrator

MCITP Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-646): Windows Server® 2008 Administrator

MCTS Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-640): Configuring Windows Server® 2008 Active Directory®

MCTS Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-640): Configuring Windows Server® 2008 Active Directory®

MCTS Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-642): Configuring Windows Server® 2008 Network Infrastructure

MCTS Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-642): Configuring Windows Server® 2008 Network Infrastructure

From there on, I may later wish to procede to MCITP: Enterprise Administrator, which requires a further 3 exams, which includes a choice between 2 desktop MCTS certs. (see link).

Lets see if I can get the exchange cert before August. Then it may be realistic to expect myself to get to MCITP: Server Administrator by the end of the year.

One Comments “Time for certs, and some professional development

  1. As a wannabe-sysadmin, I’m currently studying for Linux+ and MCSA exams. Like you said, the newer MS certs don’t seem to be well known or in demand yet.

    Cool and informative site.

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