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Which SharePoint Certification Do You Need?

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Microsoft offers a dizzying array of SharePoint certification exams, but which exams do you really need to take? This article breaks down Microsoft’s various certification paths for SharePoint and explains which exams are required for each path. The article covers both SharePoint 2007 and SharePoint 2010 as well as developer and administrator certifications.

Take a quick look at the Microsoft Learning site, and you will see that Microsoft offers a dizzying array of SharePoint certification exams. As such, it can be tough to figure out which exams you need to take, and which certification path you should be following. In this article, I will attempt to cut through the clutter by explaining Microsoft’s SharePoint certification options.

SharePoint 2007 or SharePoint 2010?

Before you begin picking out exams, the first decision that you need to make is whether you want to be certified in SharePoint 2007, SharePoint 2010, or both. If you are just getting started with SharePoint, then you should probably focus on SharePoint 2010 since that is the newer of the two products. However, anyone who may have to deal with migration or coexistence between the two versions might be wise to follow both certification paths.

Certification Levels

There are five different levels of SharePoint certifications. These include:

  • Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS)—This is the lowest level certification. It validates that the candidate has the basic skills necessary to deploy and manage SharePoint in an enterprise environment. MCTS certifications typically only require candidates to pass a single exam.
  • Microsoft Professional Certification (MCITP)—An MCITP certification is a certification for those who have a few years of experience in working with SharePoint and have already earned an MCTS certification. The exams focus heavily on designing complex SharePoint deployments that solve business problems while adhering to Microsoft’s best practices.
  • Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD)—In the context of SharePoint, an MCPD certification validates that the individual is qualified to write SharePoint Web parts, SharePoint applications, and other SharePoint related code.
  • Microsoft Certified Masters (MCM)—The MCM certification is an advanced certification that requires three weeks of mandatory instructor led training, in addition to written and lab based testing.
  • Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA)—The MCA certification is Microsoft’s highest level of certification. At the present time, the MCA program for SharePoint is still being developed and Microsoft has not released any information other than that there will eventually be an MCA program for SharePoint.

SharePoint 2007

The SharePoint 2007 certification path is a little bit less involved than the SharePoint 2010 certification path. Microsoft offers MCTS exams for SharePoint 2007, and they also offer a Microsoft Certified Masters program. However, there are no professional level (MCITP or MCPD) exams, nor is there a Microsoft Certified Architect program for SharePoint 2007.

MCTS for SharePoint 2007

The primary exam for those who wish to earn an MCTS certification for SharePoint 2007 is exam 70-630 (MCTS: Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, Configuration). At the present time, Microsoft is also offering an MCTS exam for version 3.0 of the SharePoint Services, but this exam (70-631 MCTS: Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, Configuration) is scheduled to be retired on March 31, 2011.

If you are more interested in a developer certification, Microsoft offers two MCTS developer certifications—one for SharePoint 2007 and one for the Windows SharePoint Services. These exams include:

  • Exam 70-542 MCTS: Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, Application Development
  • Exam 70-541 MCTS: Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, Application Development

Microsoft Certified Master for SharePoint 2007

Earning an MCM requires more than just passing an exam. It requires hands-on experience, instructor-led training, and a series of exams. Before a candidate can even be accepted into the MCM program, they must have passed an entire series of exams. These exams consist of administrator exams for SharePoint 2007 and the Windows SharePoint Services 3.0. Candidates are also required to pass a series of developer exams. The MCM program does not offer separate tracks for developers and administrators. All MCM candidates must pass developer and administrator exams.

The prerequisite exams for the SharePoint 2007 MCM program include:

  • Exam 70-631 TS: Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, Configuring
  • Exam 70-630 TS: Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, Configuring
  • Exam 70-541 TS: Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services 3.0—Application Development
  • Exam 70-542 TS: Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007—Application Development
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