Find the right IT certification
Microsoft recently introduced new, streamlined technical certification paths, aligning to industry-recognized areas of competence and providing flexibility to showcase your specific skills on Microsoft products and services. Learn more about the new Microsoft Certification paths.
Microsoft offers a wide range of online certification programs designed to take your IT skills—and your career—to the next level. To see your MCP certification options, click a category.
Frequently asked questions about IT certifications
For more specific questions addressing the certification exam policies, please visit the Exam policies and FAQ page.
- What is the difference between the new MCSE and MCSD specialties, introduced in September 2016, and the existing ones?
The new MCSE and MCSD certifications (MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, MCSE: Mobility, MCSE: Data Management and Analytics, MCSE: Productivity, and MCSD: App Builder) are aligned to Centers of Excellence, used by the Microsoft Partner Network to identify technical competencies that are widely recognizable by both Microsoft partners and customers. These credentials do not have a recertification requirement. Instead, the achievement date signifies how you keep up with changes to the technology. Every year, you have the opportunity to re-earn the certification by passing an exam from the list of electives, demonstrating your investment in broadening or deepening your skills in a given Center of Excellence. Each time you earn the certification, a new certification entry is added to your transcript. This process replaces the existing recertification requirement of taking a specific recertification exam every two years (MCSD) or every three years (MCSE) to prevent your certification from going inactive.
- What happens to the MCSE and MCSD certifications that I earned prior to September 2016?
All MCSE and MCSD certifications released prior to September 2016 will be retired on March 31, 2017. All active MCSE and MCSD certifications remain active on your transcript until retirement of the corresponding technologies, at which point the certifications are moved to the Legacy section of your transcript.
- Is there an upgrade path for me if I have previously earned an MCSE or MCSD certification?
To recognize your efforts in keeping your existing MCSE certification up-to-date, all individuals with active MCSE and MCSD certifications from the following list will earn the corresponding new MCSE or MCSD certification for 2016, without the need to take additional exams:
- MCSE: Server Infrastructure
- MCSE: Private Cloud
- MCSE: Data Platform
- MCSE: Business Intelligence
- MCSE: Enterprise Devices and Apps
- MCSE: SharePoint
- MCSE: Communication
- MCSE: Messaging
- MCSD: Universal Windows Platform
- MCSD: Web Applications
- MCSD: SharePoint Applications
- Is there an upgrade path for me if I was working toward an existing MCSE or MCSD certification but have not yet earned it?
All individuals who have passed a qualifying elective exam since January 1, 2016, will be granted the corresponding new MCSE or MCSD certification for 2016 without the need to take additional exams, if they have met all exam requirements.
- What is the recertification requirement for all MCSE and MCSD certifications released prior to September 2016?
For all MCSE and MCSD certifications released prior to September 2016, MCSE candidates are required to recertify every three years, and MCSD candidates recertify every two years. Recertification requires passing a recertification exam specific to your specialty.
Recertification exams cover material from the exams taken to originally earn the credential, with particular emphasis on the most recent product and process changes.
MCSA certifications do not require recertification.
- How long is a Microsoft Certification valid?
Microsoft Certifications are valuable in the market and remain valuable as long as companies are using the technologies covered in the certification. Over time, certifications retire and eventually transition to a Legacy status. Legacy Microsoft Certifications appear on your transcript, designated as such. For the most current certification status, refer to the Retired certifications page.
- Are there upgrade paths available for Microsoft Certifications?
Depending on the certification you have achieved, most certifications have an upgrade path available. For more information, check the “How to upgrade” section on the appropriate certification page.
- How do I find out about new certification releases?
To find out about new certification releases, refer to the newly released certification exams on the certifications exams page.
- Which certification should I start with?
For those new to technology, Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) is the recommended starting point for our certifications. Although not required, MTA certifications provide a solid foundation for those preparing for the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) and Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) certifications. Those who have been working with the technology should start with the MCSA or MCSD certification, which are prerequisites for any further certifications. The MCSA certification validates that job seekers have a minimum set of skills to hit the ground running.
- How can I plan my certification path?
To chart your path through Microsoft training, exams, and certifications, download the free interactive map.
- Which exams qualify for the new MCSD and MCSE certifications introduced in September 2016?
Find out which exams qualify for the new MCSD and MCSE certifications introduced in September 2016, on this Microsoft technical certifications chart.
- What do I gain from passing a Microsoft Certification exam?
When you pass your first Microsoft Certification exam, you become a member of the Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) community, with access to all of the benefits provided through the Microsoft Certification Program and the MCP member site. You can share your transcript with others to prove that you passed that exam and to show your progress towards a specific certification. In some cases, such as when you pass an MTA or Specialist exam, that single exam also earns you the associated certification.
- Why don’t all of the certification titles include version numbers?
Certifications that require recertification are not versioned because they may cover multiple technologies.
- Will getting certified help with my matriculation?
Students can now get college credit by earning a Microsoft Certification. The American Council on Education (ACE) has recommended college credit for several Microsoft Certifications.