Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA): Certification Preparation

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Last week my wife and I attended a company dinner. During the meet and greet, one of the husbands I met asked “How can I get the basics that I need to get started with a career in IT?” After a moment of thought I remembered the Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) courses and certifications.


Why you should check out the MTA?

In December 2012 Microsoft announced the Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certification, which previously had only been available to academic institutions. The MTA course and certification is a great place to start. Microsoft considers the MTA certification to be the entry point certification for those of you who are starting your IT career path, looking to enhance your understanding of the fundamentals, or if you are considering a change in your current IT career path. If you think back to when you were a kid, we changed our minds constantly about what we wanted to do when we grew up. Many of us changed our minds constantly through our college years as we started a career path and later decided this was not for us. Well, the MTA is a great way to start down a path that can help you with making that IT career decision.

The MTA certification track also has different paths that you can use to decide what direction you want to take your career. If you enjoy working onfigure.html with hardware and software then the IT Infrastructure track is your first choice. If you are interested in databases there is a database track and if learning software development is your passion there is a development track available as well. You can work through one course or a whole track of courses right here at TrainSignal. Here is a list of the courses and exams available for the MTA:

MTA IT infrastructure track-for those intending to build a career in desktop or server infrastructure or private cloud computing:

MTA database track-for those intending to build a career in data platform administration or business intelligence:

MTA development track-for those intending to build a career as a software developer, this track helps prepare you for hands-on product training and MCSD certification. Start with MTA Software Development Fundamentals and then select the additional topics in this track to help you meet your career development goals:

Who should consider MTA Courses and Certifications?

The MTA is designed for anyone who wants to learn the fundamentals. The courses are designed for the person who is just starting out in the industry,  wants to enhance their current position, is considering the possibility of changing from say Network Administration to a Developer, or someone who is looking for an entry level certification to look good on your resume.


So what does the MTA provide?

The MTA is designed to give you the fundamentals in your area of choice. There is the old saying that says that a house is only as good as its foundation, and the MTA is where you start developing your foundation. The concepts that you will learn will only be the first set of building blocks, and if you choose IT as a career path there will be a never ending set of blocks. If you ask any network administrator, software developer, web designer, or security analyst they will tell you the same thing. There are no short cuts.


Do you have to attend a class to complete a course and take your certification exam?

No, in fact TrainSignal is a great place to start as we have a series of online courses designed for MTA. There are also study materials available via the web and your favorite book store. If you are after the MTA certification then you can schedule and take the certification exam at any Prometric testing center, and once you have passed your exam you will have obtained your first certification to put on your resume and become a member of the Microsoft Certified Professionals (MCP) community. Pretty cool.


What other certifications can I obtain after I become a MTA?

Microsoft has many paths that you can take once you have obtained your MTA. But all paths start with the fundamentals and that is what the MTA will help provide.


(Courtesy of Microsoft)


Do I need to take the test and get certified?

No, the exam and certification are not a requirement but they are extremely valuable and helpful. According to following surveys:



  • Eighty-six percent of hiring managers indicate IT certifications are a high or medium priority during the candidate evaluation process. (CompTIA, Employer Perceptions of IT Training and Certification, January 2011)

  • Ninety-one percent of hiring managers consider certification as part of their hiring criteria. (Microsoft, Microsoft Certification Program Satisfaction Study, April 2012)

  • In a survey of 700 IT networking professionals, 60 percent said certification led to a new job. (Network World and SolarWinds, IT Networking Study, October 2011).

So taking the certification exams and obtain your MTA certification can help give you an advantage over someone who is not certified during career search.

When I started in the IT industry there was nothing like the MTA courses and exams to help with learning the fundamentals that are needed. So if you are just starting in IT or even just thinking about IT as a possible career, you should seriously take a look at the MTA courses to help decide if it's the right field for you. Think of it as obtaining your first of many certifications to come. So let us know if you have taken or plan on using the MTA courses for you start in IT.

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Ken Mauldin

Ken Mauldin has been in the IT industry for over 30 years, starting off as a hardware tech in 1980. He has served as a server/network admin, network engineer, IT manager and independent contractor. Ken got his start in networking using Novell NetWare in 1993. In 1996, Ken became a Microsoft Certified Trainer and has been a Microsoft Engineer since Windows NT 4. After working full-time as a MCT for over five years, Ken currently is a Senior Network Support Engineer and writing blog postings for TrainSignal.