Microsoft Certified Professional: Job Info & Requirements
Microsoft Certified Professionals (MCPs) are industry specialists who have passed a credentialing exam in information technology (IT), systems administration or another related area. Read on to learn more about what types of credentials are available, as well as what certified information technology specialists and systems administrators can earn in the field.
Microsoft Certified Professionals (MCPs) are experts in the use of the company's software programs and technology, as evidenced by a passing score on at least one credentialing exam. Microsoft Certified Professionals are able to fix bugs, install programs and answer any questions that customers have about the manufacturer's software products. As of 2014, Microsoft offered over 20 different certifications for computer and network systems administrators, database developers, IT project managers and Web developers, among other specialists. Certification paths are offered in accordance with levels of expertise and experience. For example, candidates who are new to the computer industry may pursue a Microsoft Technology Associate credential, while more advanced professionals may be interested in the Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer program (microsoft.com).
Becoming a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP)
While not necessarily required, completion of a bachelor's degree in computer science can help students acquire the skills they need to pass the Microsoft certification exams and obtain their credentials. Vendor-specific training can be found through the Microsoft Virtual Academy, where the modules are organized according to products and topics. Additional training resources include e-books and practice tests (www.microsoft.com).
Individuals looking to become a Microsoft Certified Professional should have an aptitude for computers, software programs and technology. Strong interpersonal skills are also important, especially when communicating with customers who may be less technically inclined.
Career and Salary Outlook
According to Microsoft, certified professionals may be able to find employment as IT professionals, technology trainers, developers and system architects (www.microsoft.com). Salaries for MCPs can vary according to the position. For example, according to PayScale.com in February 2014, salaries for IT managers with MCP certifications ranged from $48,399 to $105,482, while an MCP-certified systems administrator earned between $41,818 and $80,970 during the same period (www.payscale.com).
Alternate Career Options
Computer User Support Specialists
Computer user support specialists provide online or telephone assistance to non-technical consumers who are having difficulties with their hardware, software, operating systems or peripheral devices. Although educational requirements can vary according to the employer, college-level coursework in a computer-related area may be enough to qualify for an entry-level position. Additional training may be acquired through industry certification programs, such as those available from Apple, Inc. These include the Apple Certified Associate or Macintosh Technician, as well as credentials specific to individual operating systems (www.training.apple.com).
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment opportunities for computer support specialists in general are expected to increase by 17% nationwide between 2012 and 2022, or faster than average when compared to all other occupations. Specialists employed by computer systems design companies will see a 49% growth in jobs during the same 10-year period. As of May 2012, the median annual salary for a computer user support specialist was $46,420 (www.bls.gov).
Information Security Analyst
Information security analysts are typically employed by businesses, computer services, financial firms and other organizations, where their responsibilities include protecting IT systems from cyberattacks. According to the BLS, this is a fast growing field, with opportunities for information analysts expected to increase by a dramatic 37% nationwide between 2012 and 2022. As reported by the BLS, the median annual salary for an information analyst in May 2012 was $86,170 (www.bls.gov).
Completion of a bachelor's degree program in computer science or a closely related subject area is required to enter the field. Individual employers may look for candidates with a Master of Business Administration (concentration in information systems). Through Cisco Systems, Inc., aspiring professionals can also purse industry certifications in cybersecurity, firewall security or network admission control, among other credentials (www.cisco.com).
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