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Microsoft kills off MCTS, no replacement planned

June 27, 2012

Pop quiz…

What was Cisco’s first IT certification?





The answer is CCIE, Cisco’s top tier certification.  CCNA and CCNP were created for one of the following reasons (depending on how sceptical you are)..

1 – To provide students with a “certification status” as they passed though the CCIE certification path; and to provide certification status to students not wishing to pursue the advanced certification that is CCIE.


2 – To make more money on certifications.

Whatever the real reason the model used by Cisco is generally speaking the same model employed by most of the other vendors, which is…

– A low tier certification (or certifications) requiring a single exam to pass.

– A middle tier certification requiring two/three or four exams.

– A high tier certification requiring the most exams.

When I first passed a Microsoft certification in 2002 I became certified on Microsoft’s lowest tier which was then MCP, then I certified on the higher tiers of MCSA and MCSE.

Somewhere along the line Microsoft added some more tiers of “Master” and “Architect” and also  “Trainer” for those who like to teach.  Then MCP was ditched for MCTS and MCSA and MCSE were ditched for MCITP.

If you read my previous post you will now know that MCITP has been ditched for, yes you guessed it, MCSA and MCSE.  Of course the acronyms MCSA and MCSE don’t stand for what they used to; these are new certs with new names (only the letters remain the same).

In all of this turmoil what I didn’t realise is that Microsoft appear to have completely killed it’s lowest tier of certification.  Yes, you read that right, MCTS is dead, and there is nothing coming along to replace it.

According to the Microsoft MCTS certification page:

“Note MCTS certifications are no longer in development. However, your MCTS certification will remain valuable as long as companies are using the technology on which it certifies. Please visit the news and announcements page for more information about certifications for future Microsoft products and technologies.”

I’m not sure how I really feel about this revelation.

In some respects I think making exams such as Systems Centre part of the MCSE certification is a very wise move.  Let’s face it, your not going to be studying one of these exams unless you are MCSE/MCITP or just have the equivelant industry experience.

But what about certifications for SQL Server, Sharepoint and TMG?  In my job I deal with infrastructure so I often need to know a little bit about all of these technologies.  The ability to pass a single exam in these areas appeals to me (though often the certifications go above the knowledge I really need to know).  Now the option to attain a single certification in these areas is gone.

Don’t believe me?  Check out the SQL 2012 certifications.  There is only reference to MCSA (which is three exams) and MCSE (which requires MCSA plus two extra exams). There is no mention of a single exam certification.

Now look at the Certification Overview page.  Three tiers are shown, being “Associate” (MCSA), “Expert” (MCSE) and Master.  There is no lower tier.

Both students and the industry will need to adapt to this change.

For students, certification in Microsoft products is now a big commitment.

Industry will have to get used to this change too (i.e. not specifying MCTS “SQL 2012” in job adverts!). This will take some time for employers and agencies to adapt, they have only just adapted to MCTS and MCITP in my opinion!

Personally, I think killing off MCTS is a mistake and that this is a real loss to the certification community.


Let me know what you think below…


  1. Maybe MS needs to adjust and not the industry 😉 you can still take one SQL exam to show off a skill set and ignore the titles you would get otherwise.

    • Two very good points John 🙂

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