MCTS is the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist certificate. The MCTS certification is an end-of-life program, meaning that it cannot be used to upgrade to higher levels. It is, in itself, a great accomplishment that looks extremely favorable on one’s resume. Although there are a total of 24 exams available, they are broken down into smaller sections. The certificate will only be given after the successful completion of all exams in one of these categories. There is no all-encompassing certificate, though one is always free to earn the title of MCTS in multiple categories.
The categories, along with their number of exams, are as follows:
- – Exchange Server (1)
- – Project and Project Server (2)
- – SharePoint and SharePoint Server (2)
- – Windows Client (2)
- – Virtualization (2)
- – SQL Server (3)
- – Windows Server (3)
- – Visual Studio (4)
- – Other technologies (5)
Most categories are self-explanatory except the Other technologies category, which contains the following exams:
- – MCTS on Microsoft Dynamics
- – MCTS: Microsoft BizTalk Server 2010
- – MCTS: Volume Licensing Specialist, Large Organizations
- – MCTS: Volume Licensing Specialist, Small and Medium Organizations
- – MCTS: Forefront Identity Manager 2010, Configuration
Each test goes into specific detail, ensuring that the applicant is very well-versed in the subject. The Windows 7 Configuration test for the Windows Client MCTS Certification, for example, may ask questions about preparing and installing Windows 7 on a freshly assembled machine, or how to locate the source of a driver issue and manually correct it. These tests are very similar to others, such as those found in the MCSA certification, however it should be noted that they are specifically for the MCTS and will not transfer – especially considering that many of the MCTS exams are becoming outdated.
The tests can be applied for on Microsoft’s website. The application process is fairly quick, however test dates may be many days, weeks, or even months after an application is processed. Tests take place on-site at varying locations and are administered through a third party. Test questions come in various formats, including but not limited to multiple choice, matching, true or false, and category listing.
Most tests for Microsoft certifications range between $100 and $150 and take one to three hours at most. For a self-taught technician who passes all of the tests on the first try, becoming completely MCTS-certified would cost at absolute most $3,600 and take a maximum of 72 hours – roughly equivalent to paying out of pocket for two semester-long classes at a mid-rate college. Considering that these certifications will, in many cases, provide the same function as a college degree, this is an option many choose. They can of course be used to supplement a degree.
Microsoft cautions that the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist program is no longer in development, which means it will not be updated to meet with current standards. As such, they recommend taking exams for a more scalable certification, such as the MCSA. Nonetheless anyone who could benefit from a certificate at their current job may still find this viable, as not all companies can or even need to upgrade their technology.