Microsoft Certification Exam Retirements: What You Need to Know

Depending upon your level of affiliation with the Microsoft Learning team, you may know before the public does when Microsoft plans to retire a particular IT certification exam. In that case, you would be bound by non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) anyway, so you could not tell anyone the news.Tim

Therefore, if you are like me and the vast majority of the Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) community, you learn about Microsoft exam retirements only when they announce them to the general public.

Keep abreast of the latest exam retirements by bookmarking and regularly visiting the following three Microsoft online resources:

Choosing a Certification Path

Let’s say you work as a SQL Server database administrator (DBA), and your company upgraded its databases to SQL Server 2008 earlier this year. Because you want to maximize your viability with your company, you decide to become certified in SQL Server. Should you go for a SQL Server 2008 credential, or should you instead focus on SQL Server 2012, which you haven’t even used?

In my humble opinion, you should always go for the “latest and greatest” Microsoft product version, even if it does not square 100 percent with your own production environment. My reasoning is eminently straight-forward:

Microsoft is going to retire your certification title eventually, and you want to get as much return on investment as possible for your time, effort, and money.

As a matter of fact, you can read on the Exam Retirements page I linked to earlier that Microsoft has already scheduled several SQL Server 2008 exams to retire this year and in 2014.

If you’re thinking, “How can I get up to speed on a product version that I don’t use every day?” don’t be too concerned. Preparing to pass any IT certification exam boils down to the same three steps in all cases:

Maximizing Your Investment

You can save yourself some money by taking advantage of Microsoft’s Second Shot and Exam Pack offers. These benefits are not offered all the time; here is one more Microsoft Web page for you to bookmark and periodically check:

The Second Shot program works like this: You purchase your Microsoft exam voucher from the Second Shot Web site. If you do not pass your exam on the first try, you can use the Second Shot voucher to make a free second attempt at the test. The Second Shot program effectively reduces the cost of exam registration 50 percent for those who don’t pass the first time around.

The Exam Packs are discounted blocks of exam vouchers that are ideal for people who know in advance which and how many Microsoft certification exams they need in order to attain a particular certification title. You have one year from the date of purchase to complete the exams contained in your exam pack.

For instance, let’s say that you have the MCITP in Windows Server 2008 and you want to upgrade your credential to the MCSE in Windows Server 2012 Server Infrastructure. According to the Web site, a $300 fee will give you vouchers for the 70-417, 70-413, and 70-414 exams. That’s quite a savings over purchasing the exam vouchers separately from Prometric ($150 apiece, or $450 total).

As always, I wish you all the best in your IT certification studies, no matter what the vendor. Please feel free to send me your questions via e-mail or in the comments portion of this blog post. Thanks for reading, and take care!

~Tim