REDMOND, Wash. — Jan. 31, 2012 — Expertise and passion for technology helped fuel the information technology revolution, changing the way people work, communicate and play. Today, as part of the 20th anniversary of Microsoft Certification celebration, Microsoft recognizes the more than 7 million people globally who are certified on Microsoft technology.
“It’s humbling to be a part of what these people have done and the impact they have had on the world,” said Lutz Ziob, general manager of Microsoft Learning (MSL), which oversees Microsoft’s certification and training programs. “We want to simply pause for a moment and say thank you for what they have done and to encourage the next generation of IT pros and developers to do the same.”
The yearlong tribute, called “20 Years|20 Ways,” will offer 20 different ways for today’s technology professionals to support, mentor and guide both peers and potential successors in the importance of training and certification.
The Evolution of Microsoft Certifications
Started in 1992, the certification program has evolved to become one of the world’s largest and most diverse certification communities. A person who earns a Microsoft certification is recognized by employers and peers as an expert in that particular field.
Microsoft surveys have validated that Microsoft certifications result in faster promotions, higher pay and a higher level of confidence for the person who becomes certified.
By earning a certification from Microsoft in 2012, a person validates relevant skills through a credential that employers worldwide respect, connects with a global community, and gains access to valuable career-building tools and training.
Microsoft certifications have grown up as part of an industry that views perpetual change as the status quo. The traditional technology cycle that maintained a three-year interval for software releases has given way. Accelerating this compression, the emergence of the cloud has compelled Microsoft to shift toward a more fluid, up-tempo rhythm of refreshes and recertification. Developing and deploying into the cloud have also set training and certification on a new trajectory toward broader, more solutions-based approaches.
Along with the cloud has come a deluge of new products — phones, games, apps, security, among others — that continues to drive a greater range of career paths and certifications. The numbers are indeed startling: During the past year, more than 1 million people worldwide took Microsoft Certification exams thanks to the company’s broad network of more than 17,000 Microsoft Certified Trainers, 1,400 Learning Partners and roughly 5,000 Prometric testing centers globally.
“It’s hard to make IT skills comparable worldwide,” Ziob observes. But if the certification credential is to have validity as a global standard, it should be universally accessible and applicable to diverse cultural and economic landscapes. “It wasn’t that long ago that if you lived in Russia, you had to fly to Dusseldorf to take an exam. We’ve worked hard to make sure the training, preparation and exams are available globally.
Our Learning Partners help us understand that the learning environments and customers in, say, Shanghai differ from those in South Africa. They live in the local environments, speak the languages and know what special software needs to be installed in each country. These partners help us ensure that our customers’ training needs can be met in an environment tailored to them.”
To Ziob, that serves as a reminder of MSL’s top priority as it charts the future of Microsoft certifications. “We earned the confidence of those millions of candidates — and of employers worldwide — over the course of 20 years by building trust in the integrity and validity of these credentials. As part of our tribute, it’s critical that we resolve to keep our products rigorous and robust, so that Microsoft certifications remain the most trusted in the industry.”
Celebrating 20 Years by Giving Back
Throughout the year, 20 Years|20 Ways will celebrate how far the Microsoft certification program has come and where it aspires to go. “Our objective here,” says Ziob, “is to encourage established IT pros and developers to grow their own careers and, at the same time, motivate the next generation. By giving a little, we can do a lot for aspiring IT professionals around the world.”
Microsoft will donate up to 5,000 entry-level Microsoft Technology Associate certification exams and training. Microsoft will donate the exams through organizations like NetHope Academy and Microsoft IT Academy, which will ensure that they are awarded to applicants who could not otherwise afford to take them.