It's a strange world where a college degree in IT is no guarantee of an IT job. But that is the state of affairs we are living in. Today many companies want individuals that have certifications in an IT specialty. It could be on hardware, software, security, applications, or on an OS like Windows 7.
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Computer certifications are intended to demonstrate a user's familiarity and expertise in a hardware or software product. Some companies like Cisco and Microsoft have spent considerable effort to develop courses which will teach individuals how to use their products. For a company like Cisco, they have over ten certification tracks, culminating in probably the most prestigious certification in the IT field, the CCIE (Cisco Certified Internet Expert). Microsoft also has many certification tracks leading up to their most popular, the MCSE (Microsoft Certified System Engineer). Other certifications, which will be discussed in the next section, center around Windows 7.
These tracks and others like them involve the study and practice of the system in question, and then taking a test at a specified location under the view and control of a test proctor. Most of the time the exams are computer based with multiple choice questions and some simulations that must be completed to show the expertise in theory and in practice. There are Window 7 certification study guides available to help you prepare for these exams.
Computer certifications also have a time limit, usually three years. This means that the student must re-certify again at the end of that time period. This requirement is due to the fact that many changes in technology take place in a period of three years that the old expertise may not match the new expertise required to work with the same hardware or software.
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The Microsoft Windows 7 Certification
Microsoft provides two certification tracks that can be used to show expertise in the Windows 7 operating system. One is the MCTS, or Microsoft Certified Technical Specialist; the other is the MCITP, Microsoft Certified IT Professional.
The Windows 7 configuration exam number 70-680 will validate the user's ability to understand the different functions and features of Windows 7. Also, it will validate the users ability to troubleshoot network connectivity and applications issues. This is a one-exam certification and it can function as an elective to other certifications.
The Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) certification focuses on a broad range of issues. The person who is interested in this track must deal with the client operating system, desktop applications, mobile devices, networking, and hardware support. The MCTS certification is a requirement for earning the Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) certification.
There are two tracks for this certification, 1) the Enterprise Desktop Administrator 7 and 2) the Windows 7 Enterprise Desktop Support Technician. Each one of these two tracks involves taking two exams. One of the exams is the 70-680, the MCTS exam. The other exam will validate the MCTIP in the respective track.
For the Enterprise Desktop Administrator 7 track, the second exam is the 70-686:Windows 7, Enterprise Desktop Administrator.
For the Enterprise Desktop Support Technician, the second exam is the 70-685:Windows 7, Enterprise Desktop Support Technician.
To prepare for the Windows 7 certification exams there are some study guides that are available. For the MCTS exam, one can begin the study with the Microsoft Press Book: MCTS Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-680).
The Microsoft Press kit includes:
A self-paced study guide.
Practice tests with 350+ practice and review questions.
Case scenarios, exercises, and best practices.
Webcasts on Exam 70-680.
For the MCITP, Microsoft has made this a more challenging quest. First of all, there are no study or e-learning materials available at this time for either the 70-685 or 70-686 exams. In both cases, there is classroom training available. However, study guides have been created by individuals that have taken the classroom subject matter, and have produced study material.
ExamKing has a 70-685 study guide based on the objectives of the test. It has training material, practice tests and reviews the objectives to make the material relevant to the exam. Exam-Builder also has a 70-685 study guide. The focus is not different than the Examking product. Both of these study guides will be useful if only in that they prepare the students by looking at the course and test objectives.
For the 70-686 test versions, there are several study guides available. One is from EliteCertify which has a PDF study guide and Test Simulation Engine. The PDF and test engine is based on the 70-686 Study Guide exam objectives. Another site is the Sybex study site which has a PDF that will allow students to prepare for the exam. In each of these cases, one will find a variety of information that make the test objectives understandable.
Microsoft certifications have become almost an IT industry standard. There are many certification tracks to take to certify; but for the Windows 7 client operating system, the MCTS and the MCITP are the two certs to pursue at this time. The MCTS involves one exam and it is the prerequisite for the MCITP certification, which requires two exams.