Less than two months after Microsoft announced a major change to the Microsoft Certified Masters (MCSM formerly known as MCM) program they’ve dropped another bombshell on the community. At the end of June Microsoft abruptly announced that they were removing all the pre-requisites from taking the MCSM Knowledge Exams and Qualification Lab to make the certification available to more people. Last night at about 1:00 AM Eastern Time they sent out an email to all currently certified MCMs, MCSMs, and MCAs to give them the bad news that as of October 1, 2013 (Yes, that’s only 30 days from now) all the MCSM and MCA certification exams and training will be retired and the certification will no longer be offered. Here’s the beginning of the email:
We are contacting you to let you know we are making a change to the Microsoft Certified Master, Microsoft Certified Solutions Master, and Microsoft Certified Architect certifications. As technology changes so do Microsoft certifications and as such, we are continuing to evolve the Microsoft certification program. Microsoft will no longer offer Masters and Architect level training rotations and will be retiring the Masters level certification exams as of October 1, 2013.
Words cannot express how deeply disappointed I am by this news. The MCSM community has helped me several times in the last few months alone to find the answers to SharePoint problems that I’ve experienced in the projects I work on. And I hope that I’ve helped some of my other MCMs with their problems. After the news earlier this summer I was trying to decide whether recertifying my MCSM: SharePoint certification was worth it or not. I had just about made up my mind that it was and had started talking to my management about getting the time to go back to training (one of the best parts of the program) to complete my recertification before time was up next June. I guess I don’t have to worry about that anymore.
There have been rumors running around for months about what exams would be required to earn the Microsoft Certified Solution Developer certification for SharePoint 2013. MS Learning officially added MCSD: SharePoint to their site today. You can see all the SharePoint certifications, including MCSD, here.
The Two SharePoint specific Development exams haven’t been released yet, but should be available later this summer. In the meantime you can get started on the two non-SharePoint specific certification exams.
Another point that should be noted. This announcement continues the trend started with the SharePoint Microsoft Certified Masters certification. Certifications will now be time constrained. You must recertify every two years to maintain the MCSD: SharePoint certification. This is also true for MCSM: SharePoint (three years) and MCSE: SharePoint (two years). This recertification requirement reflects Microsoft’s move away from doing major specific releases, like 2007, 2010, and 2013, to a more continuous release cycle with quarterly service releases for Office 365. You can expect to see On-premise SharePoint going to a more continuous evolution over the next several years also. These new certs anticipate that development in both the Online and On-Premise environments.
Some journeys take a lot longer than you originally expected. I started my journey in pursuit of a Microsoft Certified Master’s SharePoint certification when I attended rotation 8 in May, 2011. If you are wondering what it was like I can’t do a better job of describing the experience than was done by my friend, fellow MVP, (and now fellow MCM) Wictor Wilén does here. Wictor and I were in the same rotation, but where he passed all his qualifications at the end of the rotation, I took an additional two years. After passing everything but the qual lab during the rotation I took a second try at the qual lab about 6 weeks later in July. I made a silly mistake on that one that cost me about 2 hours of troubleshooting time. I knew by the end of the lab that I had failed. After that life just got too busy with billable work, and then a change of employers. It wasn’t until this spring that I decided I couldn’t give up and had to take my last shot at the qual lab. So I spent five days at the beginning of May reviewing all the old material and on Wednesday May 8th I had my chance. At the end of 8 1/2 grueling hours I had a good feeling about the results. On Friday I got confirmation that I had indeed passed. After starting over 2 years ago I am finally a SharePoint 2010 MCM and it’s a great feeling.
I’ve also want to extend a big Thank You to my former company ShareSquared and to my current company Blue Chip Consulting for giving me time away from billable work to attend the training and prepare for my re-take of the Qual Lab. Without their support I would never have made it.
Now on to planning for MCSM SharePoint 2013!
Microsoft is currently working on two new certification exams for IT professionals who work with Microsoft Office 365 online systems. The exams are due to be released in April, 2012. If you work with Office 365 you should be working on the knowledge needed to pass these exams starting NOW! You can read more about what skills each exam is designed to test using the links below:
Exam 70-323: Administering Office 365 intended for IT professionals who administer Microsoft Office 365 in an environment that may include Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft Lync, and/or Microsoft SharePoint
Exam 70-321: Deploying Office 365 intended for consultants and IT professionals who plan and implement Office 365. This includes migrations to Office 365 (simple and hybrid deployments)
Passing these exams will give you the following certifications:
- Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS): Administering Office 365 (pass Exam 70-323)
- Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP): Office 365 Administrator (pass Exam 70-323 and Exam 70-321)
The links above provide an outline of what skills are being tested but at this point there is no official training material available for the exams. Your best way to prepare is to work with the Product.