IT Certifications are something I have no shortage of. When I entered the IT industry as a graduate in the early 1990’s obtaining certifications was the primary way of showing capability and competency in the industry. It was the early days of the internet and most IT related technical resources were distributed on compact discs with patches made available via bulletin boards and Compuserve. It was also well before the likes of LinkedIn.
During that period, I amassed premium certifications such as:
- Novell Certified Network Engineer (CNE) – NetWare 2.15, 2,2, 3,x, 4,x, 5,x, 6,x
- Novell Master & Enterprise Certified Network Engineer (ECNE, MCNE)
- Compaq Accredited Systems Engineer (ASE) – Novell
- Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (NT 4.0 & Windows 2000)
- … and numerous vendor hardware certifications from HP, AST, IBM, Compaq & Toshiba
As my career progressed and I was leading larger and more complex projects my expertise was judged more on successful solutions and projects rather than certifications. Certifications had gotten me the opportunities and now experience was the preferred measure of capability. That said over the last 10 years I have still obtained a number of certifications, mostly on platforms but also some in ITIL and in project management methodologies such as Agile.
Back to the present after reflecting on the last 30 years of my professional career. In late 2021 I joined Avanade as a Digital Identity Architect in their Global Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence (COE) team. Avanade puts focus on having trained and certified employees across the organisation even for those who aren’t in customer facing technical roles. With over 50k employees they boast the highest number of certifications (currently 60k+).
Regaining access to a Microsoft Certification ID
It was time for me to get Microsoft certified again. A lot has changed in 21 years since I last sat a Microsoft Exam. For one I didn’t have access to the online Microsoft Certification Dashboard. I knew my MCID but having not used it for 21 years I couldn’t logon. If this happens to you the process is to post a message on the support forums here. A support person will contact you via private message. They’ll ask for all your details to recover your profile and reassociate it with you.
With access to my MCID restored I was able to see my transcript. And it was indeed 21 years ago since I last sat a Microsoft Exam. My last exams were updating my MCSE from NT 4.0 to MCSE Windows 2000. Who else remembers that accelerated 4-in-1 NT 4.0 to Windows 200 exam?
Studying for Microsoft Exams in 2022
Back at the turn of the century you needed to get access to the Microsoft Official Courseware. It came in physical printed book form. You’d read the courseware, have some practical experience with the product and go sit the exam. There were third party providers with practice exams but often if the exam was new there was a lag in having them available. And for the most part they weren’t cheap.
Practice Exams in 2022
Even practice exams are provided by Microsoft in 2022. Under many of the exam descriptions is a link for free sample questions.
But there are also many other resources. Former Microsoft MVP and now Microsoft Senior Program Manager Thomas Maurer has numerous guides for certifications. Likewise John Savill has a YouTube channel filled with study guides for many of the certifications.
Working for an organisation that is co-owned by Microsoft means we get access to the Enterprise Skills Initiative. If you have access to ESI I recommend it. That was the resource I used as it provides both the content for the course and practice tests at the end of each section (similar to Microsoft Learn), but I found it more intuitive.
Sitting a Microsoft Certification Exam in 2022
Unsurprisingly sitting a Microsoft Certification exam has also changed. Whereby I used to have to plan a few weeks ahead to book a slot at an in-person authorised testing centre, now you can do it from the comfort of your own home via Pearson Vue. Curious on how this all worked I found this fantastic overview by fellow Australian MVP Lisa Crosbie. Lisa’s overview was what I needed to plan an appropriate space and laptop to take an exam from the comfort of my couch.
Scheduling and sitting Microsoft Certifications has never been easier. The ability to freely consume the content on demand at your leisure along with the ability to prepare via sample tests is frictionless. I also found sitting the exam from home in a nice quiet space at a time convenient to me was less stressful than my memories of trying to get to a testing centre on time 20+ years ago.