Microsoft Certification: The IT Salary Bargaining Power
In the computer world, there are two certainties.
  1. Microsoft is here to stay (even though some of us don't want to admit it).
  2. Certification is what it takes to land a high paying job as a computer professional.
Some things never change. When you have the papers behind you, you're a professional. Without the papers, employers consider you entry level. A Fairfield Research survey reported that Microsoft certification (such as a MCSE Certification - Microsoft Certified Systems Engineers) increased salaries by as much as 12.6 percent. Certification does several things:
  • It shows your knowledge and ability. When employers are looking for cheap labor, they find someone green and pay to have them trained. But when employers shell out the big money for an IT specialist, they want an expert. They don't want to wait for their networks to go down and then allow you to train yourself to bring them back up. They want someone with proof of their abilities, like a MCSA (Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator).
  • It shows your commitment to a field. This is true with any field'not just computers and IT. The more certifications or diplomas your have, the more likely you are to: 1) stay with a field, 2) show a willingness to keep updated on technology as it grows.
  • It shows your ability to follow through. Employers want someone who can persevere.
So what types of jobs are open to those with Microsoft Certifications? The MSCE certification shows that an IT expert's ability to plan, design, and administrate networks on Windows platforms. Positions include system engineers, technical support engineers, network analysts, systems analysts, and IT consultants. Average salaries for someone with MSCE certification in 2004 ranged from $61,400 - $71,700, depending on the specific certificate. Those with MCSE Win2003 Certification earned the highest average.

Where as a MSCE designs network infrastructures, a MCSA manages and troubleshoots existing network and system environments. Many times MCSAs later decide to take the MCSE certification test as they advance in their careers because much of the testing information overlaps. The average salary of someone with MCSA certification is 52,000 to 68,800. Again, the Win2003 certification is what earned the highest percentage. MCSAs found positions as IT consultants, systems administrators, and IT support specialists.

Notice the trend of the higher paid IT experts is to stay on top of technology always being prepared for the changes and shifts in the networking industry.

Getting Microsoft Certifications

So how do you get Microsoft MCSE or MCSA certified? First, you make sure you know what you're doing. That usually means training. Find a Microsoft Certification training program online and learn what it takes to be an official MCP (Microsoft Certified Professional). Not only will the online schools prepare you for Microsoft Certification, but they'll also make a great addition to your resume.

To receive MCSE certification on Windows Server 2003, you'll have to pass a total of seven exams (six core exams and one elective exam). This includes four networking system exams, one client operating exam, and one design exam. Each exam costs anywhere from $125.00 and up.

MCSA certification for Windows Server 2003 is a little easier (and an ideal starting place) with only three core exams and one elective exam. The core exams contain two networking exams and one client operating system exam. The prices are the same as those for the MCSE exams.

So what's the job outlook for these certified IT professionals? Right now, there are hundreds of thousands of vacant IT positions available in the US. In 2006, independent surveys indicate 1.3 million new jobs in the IT industry. This is promising for someone with the right credentials. Start planning for a Microsoft Certification now.
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