Dear friends, today we will talk about common Microsoft certifications and my personal experience of passing Microsoft certification exams. This theme is very important for me just like for any other IT professional. In this article, I will give you a brief review of popular Microsoftcredentials and then we will move to one specific certification and talk about the preparation process.
So, let’s see which credentials offered by Microsoft are popular in the IT field and how they are connected to each other. I will start withMTA certification:
This credential is intended for entry-level specialists who want to gain fundamental technical knowledge in the IT sphere.Although MTA certification cannot serve as a prerequisite for MCP, MCSA or MCSD, it is still a valuable achievement in the industry. To become MTA-certified, you need to successfully pass 1 of the 14 offered exams. Some of the most popular options for MTA are:
Microsoft 98-349 exam
Windows Operating System Fundamentals exam covers the management of applications, files, folders and devices, understanding of OS (Operating System) configurations, OS maintenance and more.
Microsoft 98-364 exam
Exam Database Fundamentalsfocuses on the understanding of core database concepts, database objects creation, data manipulation, database administration and more.
Microsoft 98-365 exam
Exam Windows Server Administration Fundamentals concentrates on the understanding server installation, Active Directory, server roles, storage, server performance management andserver maintenance.
Microsoft 98-366 exam
Networking Fundamentals exam covers the understanding of network infrastructures, network hardware, services and protocols.
Microsoft 98-375 exam
Next certification in my list is MCSA and below you will find the most popular options for it.
MCSA: Microsoft Dynamics 365 certification
This associate-level credential is designed to validate your knowledge and expertise in Microsoft Dynamics 365 technologies. The certified individual is able to customize, configure and upgrade Dynamics 365 and work on positions of technical support engineer, implementation consultant, or system administrator. To get this certification, you need to clear 2 tests:
Microsoft MB2-715 exam
Exam Microsoft Dynamics 365 customer engagement Online Deployment includes topics such as the creation of Customer Organizational Structure, Dynamics 365 Environment administration, the management of Mobile Environments and Microsoft Outlook and more.
Microsoft MB2-716 exam
Exam Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customization and Configurationcovers the configuration of Microsoft Dynamics 365, implementation of entity relationships, fields, Dynamics 365 entities, workflows, business rules and many more.
If you successfully complete MCSA: Microsoft Dynamics 365, you can move to a next level and getMCSE: Business Applications certification.
MCSA: Cloud Platform certification
This associate-level credential can be an ideal choice for aspiring specialists who perform the tasks related to Cloud-based technologies. Individuals with this certification are valuable specialists for the modern business. To get the credential, the candidate should pass 2 of the 4 offered exams: 70-532, 70-533, 70-535, or 70-537 exam. Note that MCSA: Cloud Platform retires on December 31, 2018.
Microsoft 70-532 exam
Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions exam is concentrated on the creation and management of Azure Resource Manager Virtual Machines, implementation of data strategy and storage identity management, application management and more.
Microsoft 70-533 exam
Exam Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions focuses on the management of Azure operations, Azure identities, Azure security, as well as Azure App Service Apps, virtual networks, ARM templates and many more.
Microsoft 70-535 exam
Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions exam covers the designing of Data Implementation, Security, Identity Solutions, Compute Infrastructure, Networking Implementation and more.
Microsoft 70-537 exam is currently in development. Upon completion of MCSA: Cloud Platform credential, you can move straight to another popular certification – MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure. Here is a brief description of this credential:
MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure
This expert-level certification is designed for people who want to prove that they can work with a modern and efficient data center. The credential also validates the candidate’s expertise in networking, identity management, virtualization and various Cloud technologies. Note that MCSE: Cloud Platform retires on December 31, 2018. To get certified, you need to attain your MCSA certification (see the details on the Microsoft website) and then pass 1 test from 10 offered. A great option for ambitious IT specialists is 70-473 test.
Microsoft 70-473 exam
Designing and Implementing Cloud Data Platform Solutions exam is focused on the design and implementation of database solutions, security, high availability, scalability, disaster recovery and more.
As I already mentioned, the second part of this article will be dedicated to my personal experience with Microsoft certification. It’s now exactly six months since I took Microsoft 70-463 exam and my certification path is finished. I am now MCSA certified and I thought that I should share my personal experience with you.
MCSA: SQL Server 2012/2014 certification and 70-463 exam: details
To begin with, MCSA is the certification that I always wanted to obtain. I’ve heard about it during my college days and I planned to get the certification once I finish with my IT studies. Time went by fast, college ended. I got a placement at a local company and soon forgot about any plans to get the certification. Then came the reminder some years later as I wanted to apply for a warehouse developer job. I performed pretty well in the initial stages of the interview and the moment came when there were left just a couple of the candidates. To select the best of us, the employer demanded that only the candidates who have MCSA: SQL Server 2012/2014 certification can go to the next round. Many of us were automatically disqualified. As you can imagine, I was devastated. This was something I really wanted. I had given my best shot at the interviews and even outperformed many of the remaining candidates. But here I was… disqualified due to lack of a relevant certification. Within the next few weeks, I have started the certification process and the rest just fell into place.
Preparation for the exam
I knew I wanted to excel in this certification, so I made good use of each second to study hard. I gathered all the study materials I needed. Microsoft does quite impressive work in ensuring that you have all the resources one needs to reach the goal. I took these materials seriously for I knew they held the key to my success.
The materials I found most useful were the instructor-led training, the books and the practice tests. Instructor-led training is a course that can help you to get ready for the certification exam. Even though I still had a tough schedule due to my previous work, I always found a way to allocate a couple of hours for the tutorials. I knew workdays were tight, so I needed to wake up an hour early for the instructor-led training.
I also took the advantage of the book “Training Kit (Exam 70-463) Implementing a Data Warehouse with Microsoft SQL Server 2012 (MCSA)”. At the time, the book was on sale, so I bought it immediately. I used my lunch breaks for reading the book and comparing the content learned with what I did at my workplace.
The Microsoft Virtual Academy was the last important resource. I could not afford to ignore it. The Academy provided me with an opportunity to watch videos made by experts. The tutors were once in the same position as me and had progressed to excel in their field. Through the Virtual Academy videos, I got an in-depth guidance and training on the certification.
Having gained practical skills from a personal lab and theoretical touch from the various books and resources, I still needed to have an idea of what the exam really looks like. I achieved this with the help of the practice tests. Most of these tests are available for purchase. You might think that they are too costly, but I suggest that you can unite with some other local learners and buy the resources for joint use. The practice test I took was quite intensive, but eventually, I aced it. This increased my confidence to pass Microsoft 70-463 exam.
Duration and number of questions
I was allocated about 2,5 hours for the exam with and had 60 questions to answer. I found the questions to be a good standard. I liked it because it is not possible to cover the comprehensive subject with just a few questions. During the preparation, as you already know by now, I had a lot to read. So it would have been unfair for me to read that large only to get a few questions, which are probably unfamiliar to me. Let me tell you one trick – if you see an exam with many questions, just be sure you have a high chance of passing it.
I had come across some of the questions asked in the exam during my studies and I felt glad that I had actually taken the time to conduct such a thorough preparation. I was able to provide a solution to all questions in 2 hours of time. That left me with 30 additional minutes to think about my responses.
- Designing and implementation of a data warehouse
This topic constituted about 10-15% of all the questions asked. I remember a question about designing and implementing of dimensions. I knew how to design conformed dimensions, so I determined the attributes easily. Still, in the design part, there was a question related to designing and implementing fact tables. The question was about how to design a data warehouse which could support many to many relationships. I tackled this question easily because I was thoroughly prepared.
- Extracting and transforming data
The exam contained the questions on defining connection managers and designing and implementing data flow. There were also some questions about implementing a script task in SSIS. In my own estimate, the questions associated with the extraction and transformation of data made up 20% of the whole exam.
- Loading data
I also came across the questions about designing of control flow, implementing control flow and implementing data load options. A bigger part of the exam comprised of the questions related to loading data.
- SSIS solutions
Some questions on SSIS solutions were also present. There was one that was linked to installing SSIS components and the other on the deployment of SSIS solutions. A question on batch cleanup was also asked.
Passing Microsoft test gave me the feeling of confidence in my skills. That was what I needed to pass all my exams and finally earn the certification. I am now Microsoft certified and I already have a couple of job offers. Wish you good luck with your exams!