Microsoft Certified Professional
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The Microsoft Certified Professional or MCP Program is the certification program from Microsoft that enables IT Professionals and Developers to validate their technical expertise through rigorous, industry-proven, and industry-recognized exams. The certification exams offered cover a broad range of technologies throughout the Microsoft ecosystem of IT technologies. When an individual passes a certification exam and earns a Microsoft certification, then they are recognized as a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP). By passing multiple exams they have the opportunity to earn larger, more distinguished certifications; such as the MCSE and MCSD certifications.
In 2016, Microsoft expanded with the launch of its Microsoft Professional Program, a fully online certification program in partnership with edX which includes various tracks in data science, front end web development, cloud computing, DevOps. This program has expanded to a total of 8 tracks in 2018 with the addition of its artificial intelligence and software development program certification in April 2018. Many of these programs are focused on equipping learners with up to date skillsets with various Microsoft tools, including Excel, PowerBI, Visual Studio, and Azure.
The Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) certification is no longer available.
Microsoft Certifications are professional certifications that demonstrate the holder's expertise in Microsoft related technologies. They have been divided into six categories named as Cloud, Mobility, Data, Productivity, App Builder and Business applications. Each category aligns to a series of technologies that span the entire Microsoft product portfolio. The core technologies include Microsoft Azure, Windows Server, SQL Server, Office 365, SharePoint Server, Exchange Server, Skype for Business and Microsoft Dynamics 365.
The pathway to Microsoft Certified Professional is broken down into tiers to demonstrate the level of expertise for the holder. These include:
- Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) – is the entry level certification that validates the holder's fundamental technology knowledge - previous entry level MCP has been replaced by MTA.
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) – this certification validates the holder's ability to build and design solutions[buzzword] using core Microsoft technologies. There are many flavours of MCSA certifications including Server 2012, Server 2016, Windows 10, SQL Server 2016, BI Reporting, Dynamics 365, Office 365, Web applications.
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) – these certifications show the skills to design and build advanced solutions[buzzword] which integrate multiple Microsoft technologies - requires MCSA prerequisite
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) – the certification proves the holder's skills in designing and building application solutions[buzzword] – requires MCSA prerequisite
- Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA) – database specialist that can design and maintain databases using Microsoft SQL-Server – retired as of September 30, 2012
- Microsoft Specialist – Designed to validate knowledge and skills in a specialized area of technology, the Specialist credential sits outside the tier system – retired as of March 31, 2017
The MCSE certification originally stood for Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer. In 2012, Microsoft made some changes to the Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) program, and renamed MCSE to mean Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert. At the same time, the MCSA certification was renamed to Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate; from its original, previous name of Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator.
As of 2018, the Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) program has three skill levels: Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA), Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA), and Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE).
As of February 2019, Microsoft is no longer providing MCP status with single exams, such as MTA, MCSA and MCSE. Microsoft is focusing on replacing the MCP program with the role based certifications. From MTA to fundamental, MCSA to associate and MCSE/MCSD to expert.
In February 2020, Microsoft announced that it would phase out the MCSA, MCSE and MCSD certifications effective June 30, 2020 in favor of "role-based" certifications focused primarily on Azure and Microsoft 365 
On March 26, 2020, Microsoft announced that remaining exams associated with Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA), Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD), Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) will retire on January 31, 2021.
Microsoft Certifications are earned by passing exams aligned to a specific certification. The process of earning certification has changed multiple times since its inception.
The current iteration was introduced September 26, 2016, when Microsoft announced that it was retiring all existing MCSE and MCSD certifications, introducing new pathways, and changing the way individuals earn and maintain those Microsoft certifications. Under the new process, the number and selection of exams required to achieve a Microsoft certification varies.
MCSA certifications require the individual to pass two or more exams in order to achieve the credential. Depending on the MCSA selected, individuals are either required to pass a set pathway of exams, or can choose from a pool of exams known as electives. MCSE and MCSD certifications now only require individuals to pass a single exam, each certification has a pool of aligned elective exams that the individual can choose from.
Historically, MCSE and MCSD credentials required the individual to recertify after a period of two to three years in order to keep the credential in the "Active section" of their transcript. Under the new system, the MCSE and MCSD credentials no longer have a recertification requirement, they remain on the "Active transcript" of the holder, once gained. Individuals instead can now re-earn a certification every year by passing an additional elective exam. It was done to reflect the increasing cadence of updates to Microsoft products and services, where products like Microsoft Azure are adding new features every 48 hours.
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