Stop for a minute and consider the range of Microsoft’s offerings and the longevity of its creations. This is a company that has not only given the world what is perhaps the gold standard in desktop publishing and office productivity software (Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, etc.) but it’s also infiltrated our home lives as well through gaming and portability. (We’re looking at you, Xbox and Surface!) Microsoft is the foundation for an incredible number of businesses; eighty percent of the Fortune 500 is on the Microsoft Cloud. More than 400 million devices are running Windows 10. In short: Microsoft is everywhere.
But what about Microsoft’s continued presence in the world of professional development? With a majority of organizations relying so much on Microsoft, it’s critical that people know how to maximize the technologies. According to Global Knowledge’s 2017 IT Skills and Salary Report, 36 percent of survey respondents (3,917 out of 14,300 worldwide participants) hold a Microsoft certification, which is more than any other type of certification. Given the breadth of their skills certifications—from those best suited for entry level IT professionals to those who have been in the industry for decades—it should come as no surprise how many respondents hold at least one Microsoft certification.
Despite the ubiquity of Microsoft’s presence in the certification landscape, the Skills and Salary Report revealed four key areas where Microsoft really shines:
- Systems, Enterprise and Architecture
- Data Management, Analytics and Business Intelligence
- Help Desk, Support and Service Management
- Application Development and Programming
A dive into the data provides an opportunity to spotlight the most popular certifications for each of these four specialty areas. It’s worth highlighting 77% of Microsoft-certified professionals felt earning a certification enabled them to perform their tasks faster and be better able to implement system efficiencies.
Systems, Enterprise and Architecture
Among respondents holding at least one Microsoft certification, those working in the field of operating systems tended to gravitate toward MCSE: Server Infrastructure. Those possessing this certification earned an average salary 10 percent above the global norm, which makes sense given it placed in the list of top 20 highest-paying certifications. However, as of March 31, 2017, Microsoft retired this certification, and it has since been replaced by MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure. This certification continues to validate the skills necessary to running an efficient data center and is a logical step after earning the MCSA: Windows Server 2016, MCSA: Cloud Platform, MCSA: Linux on Azure, or MCSA: Windows Server 2012.
Data Management, Analytics and Business Intelligence
MCSA: SQL Server was another major certification held by respondents. Of Microsoft-certified survey participants working in the field of data management, 44 percent held a SQL Server certification. What’s more, this certification’s popularity coupled with its presence in our list of the top 20 highest-paying certifications makes it one to work toward if you’re interested in data management; IT insiders say Microsoft SQL Server’s popularity is in the midst of a resurgence.
Help Desk, Support and Service Management
This category was another strong performer in terms of certification holding and compensation. Among respondents, MCSA: Windows Server 2008 and MCSA: Windows Server 2012 certifications were not only popular but also appeared in the list of top 20 highest-paying certifications. Currently, mainstream support for Windows Server 2008 has ended, so it should come as no surprise that those with that particular expertise are paid handsomely until their organizations update while those specializing in Windows Server 2012 or 2016 are needed to facilitate transitions to newer servers.
Application Development and Programming
Among Microsoft-certified respondents, the most popular certification in this area is MCSD: Web Applications due to the high demand of application development skills across the industry. However, as noted in the Salary Report, Microsoft streamlined their certification in the fall of 2016, and as of March 31, 2017, MCSD: Web Applications has been retired and replaced by MCSD: App Builder. This new certification validates the same skills required to build mobile or web applications.
In terms of professional development, Microsoft remains a major player in the realm of certifications thanks in large part to its ability to speak to a variety of necessary skills in the IT industry. What’s more, nearly 75 percent of survey respondents holding Microsoft credentials reported the desire to build new skills as a key driver for seeking certification, and 85 percent of survey respondents holding Microsoft certifications took training in the last year.
As an authorized partner and multiple winner of its Training Partner of the Year award, we’re proud to work hand-in-hand with Microsoft to lead the way and leverage the breadth of our Microsoft portfolio in building those skills and obliterating obstacles standing in the way of organizational success.
To view the Microsoft certification road map and more details about each certification, visit our Microsoft certification page.