The time has come. Microsoft must come up with a high-level certification—something that rivals the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE). It's time for a "Master MCSE."
Let's dream for a few minutes. A Master MCSE-type certification could follow in the footsteps of the CCIE. Microsoft could require anyone who wants to achieve Master MCSE status to first become a regular MCSE. The next step would be to create a very difficult written exam to weed out any paper MCSEs. Finally, Microsoft could implement an intense, hands-on exam that would test a candidate's ability to install an OS, configure various networking services, and set up technologies such as Group Policy and Windows 2000 Server Terminal Services.
The Master MCSE certification would go a long way toward clearing up issues that Microsoft has had with the credibility of the MCSE certification. The regular MCSE would still be seen as an entry and mid-level certification, as it is today. However, the Master MCSE certification would let people who have been administering Microsoft networks for years validate their status as experts in Microsoft products.
Who wins with a Master MCSE certification? Just about everybody.
- Employers would win because they'd have an easier way to separate people who work on networks from people who are in charge of networks. If Microsoft positioned the certification well, all might assume that a Master MCSE could perform the vast majority of tasks required on Win2K and .NET networks. No longer would employers have to guess whether MCSEs were worth the paper their certifications were printed on.
- IT Workers would benefit by having an additional way to validate their skill sets for employers. MCSEs with a lot of knowledge and experience who could qualify as Master MCSEs would stand to gain the most, of course. However, MCSEs who didn't achieve Master MCSE status would likely benefit as well. The enhanced credibility that the MCSE program would gain from the Master MCSE certification could potentially reverberate through all levels of Microsoft certification.
- Microsoft would benefit too. Cisco charges a lot of money for its high-level certification exams, but that doesn't deter many people from taking the exams. In fact, people are lining up in droves to take Cisco exams—and we can attribute much of that response to the respect (and increased financial rewards) that people associate with the Cisco certifications. Were Microsoft to implement a Master MCSE certification, it would likely find itself with a lucrative source of new revenue.
Will Microsoft end up doing something along these lines? Only time will tell. The company tried to do something similar with its MCSE+I certification, but most people would agree that the additional benefits that one received by obtaining their "+I" were usually marginal. What Microsoft needs is a distinct top-tier certification, and there is no time like the present for Microsoft to implement it. Windows XP, more than any OS that preceded it, requires a high level of expertise to implement. Having a small army of Master MCSEs in the field would do wonders to help Microsoft achieve success with the new OS.
Send Microsoft an email about this issue. Tell the company why you think a Master MCSE-type certification is necessary. The appropriate email address to use is mailto:[email protected]