The MCITP certification path to career success

Although not a substitute for proven work-experience, Microsoft’s MCITP certification endorses one’s technical knowledge and could improve job prospects.

As Dushyant Thakkar gained in confidence in his systems job at CSC, he felt a strong desire to tell the world of his increased knowledge and growing technical prowess. It was this confidence that prompted Thakkar to obtain the Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP certification) as database administrator. Currently a server consultant at CSC, Thakkar says that certification stands as proof to one’s knowledge, and this comes in handy during recruitment. “The MCITP certification helps in validating that an individual has the required set of skills necessary to perform the role,” says Thakkar.

The MCITP certification is given after rigorous testing of an individual’s technical proficiency in specified areas. Such certification is attempted by IT professionals with two or more years of work experience. Once obtained, an MCITP certification could facilitate entry into job roles such as database administration, network and systems engineering and administration, enterprise messaging administration, and similar functions.  

Certifications in a nutshell

Microsoft offers certifications in various technologies: four certifications in Windows Client, three in Windows Server, six in Microsoft SQL Server, two in Microsoft Exchange Server, and one each in Microsoft Office Project Server, Microsoft SharePoint Server and Microsoft Lync Server. One needs to complete several tests or examinations to obtain these certifications. See attached file: MCITP certifications in a nutshell, for a detailed list of certifications.

For example, MCITP certification as Enterprise Administrator in Windows Server involves about eight exams, with each osting about US $125. To obtain an MCITP certificate as Enterprise Desktop Support Technician 7, one needs to sit for two exams, a total cost of US $250. Similarly, a certificate for Windows Server 2008 R2 Virtualization Administrator would cost about US $375, with three exams. Each of these certifications focuses on a specific job role, allowing for in-depth validation of the requisite skill set.

Certifications can be obtained at any stage of one’s career. Prakash Nadwana, a senior specialist - DBA HCL, had four years of work experience before he obtained certification. He currently works as database administrator and developer at the company, managing and maintaining the database for Bank of Scotland. Nadwana says, “When applying for high security jobs in banking and other financial institutions, you need to know every aspect of maintaining servers, these certifications help validate  knowledge and increase job prospects.”

Prospective candidates need to obtain appropriate MCTS (Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist) certification before applying for MCITP certification. The MCITP certificate is awarded only after successful completion of MCTS as well as MCITP examinations. MCTS is usually attempted by IT professionals who have completed a year implementing, troubleshooting, and debugging a specific technology, and it serves as the foundation for the MCITP certification path.

Industry viewpoint

Krishnakumar Menon, an associate vice president for IT infrastructure at Enam Securities Pvt. Ltd., says that he seeks certified professionals mainly for the knowledge they possess and for the added qualification. He however prefers experienced individuals over freshers, as hands-on experience teaches more about troubleshooting, in his opinion.

Dinesh Chandra Gupta, DGM-IT at Godrej Consumer Products Ltd, also believes that certifications provide the knowledge needed to gain experience, and validate the candidate’s skill claims for potential or current employers. However, he adds, “I believe certifications prove that an IT professional is knowledgeable but may not prove how well they can actually do the job.”

At Godrej, Gupta hires MCITP-certified individuals at mid-management levels, provided they have the required hands-on experience, in addition to the certificate that proves their understanding of the subject.

What impact do qualifications such as MCITP certification have on salary? No general trend is evident, and compensation levels vary depending on the employer. Gupta feels that certified individuals do have a salary advantage over their non-certified peers, and this view is seconded by Nadwana, who says that the certification upside can be to the tune of Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000.   

Usually, certification assumes importance mainly at the time of hiring, and this holds good regardless of the certification type. Certification -- whether MCITP certification or otherwise -- provides a standardized and verifiable measure of an individual’s  knowledge, but it is not a substitute or replacement for experience, which ultimately is the only realistic indicator of an individual’s hands-on capabilities and adaptability to present and future requirements.

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