Microsoft is Introducing Enhanced Transcripts and Certificates!
Posted by Rubel Khan on March 29, 2011
Over the next couple of weeks, Microsoft will be updating their certification transcripts and certificates, and you’ll probably notice some small but in some cases significant changes. For the full scoop and a sneak peek at the new look, keep reading!
Changes to Transcripts
Based on customer feedback, Microsoft is consolidating the certifications on your transcripts, uniquely identifying each of them, and adding an inactive date where appropriate. They will explain in detail, but first let’s do a before-and-after comparison:
Notice how clean the new transcript looks on the right with certifications consolidated by track (MCITP, MCTS, MCSA: Security). This should make your transcript much easier for you, your clients and employers to read and understand.
Next, notice how they’ve organized all the various versions of, for example, MCTS underneath the “Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist” heading. Again, that’s to make the transcript easier to follow. Microsoft will call the top-level boldface certifications your “certification tracks,” and the different flavors underneath are your individual “certifications.” In the example above, “Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist” is a certification track with two certifications (“SQL Server 2005” and “Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, Configuration” underneath it.
Now some new pieces of information Microsoft is adding for each certification include:
1. Technology – This is the version of the product you’re certified on, for example Windows Server 2008.
2. Certification Number – This is like a serial number, uniquely identifying each certification you earn. It’s not your MCP ID—that’s your personal identifier—and it’s not the same thing as an exam number either. Someone else who earns the exact same certification will still have their own unique certification number—no two certification numbers are alike. (In case you’re wondering, certification numbers will be randomly generated—there’s no rhyme or reason to the numbers assigned). Microsoft is adding this field because it’s required for their ISO 17024 certification (yes, even certification programs can be certified themselves!), but the cool thing about it is that it gives them the potential to modify their transcript sharing tool down the line so that you can enable people to verify an individual certification without sharing your entire transcript (but that’s in the future).
3. Inactive Date – This is a big change: many of thier certifications now feature an “inactive date” which signifies either that your certification is no longer in mainstream demand, that Microsoft no longer supports the product on which the certification is based, or that you have not met recertification requirements (if any). You won’t always see this field on your transcript—only if and when they have determined an inactive date for that certification. For affected certifications, you’ll start seeing inactive dates show up in June. (You can find more information on inactive dates here.)
Let’s take a moment to discuss the Inactive Date, because I’m sure that some of you are reading that phrase and thinking “that’s Microsoft-speak for decertification date.” It isn’t—in fact, even if all of your certifications go inactive, you’ll still have access to your MCP benefits, and your inactive certifications will still appear on your transcript. All that’s changing is that Microsoft is signaling to you, your clients, and employers that these particular certifications have outlived their market relevance. Just to clarify what they mean by market relevance is that in most cases Microsoft isn’t even supporting the technology through mainstream support. In other cases, it may be that the way that the technology was used (many years ago or with cloud it could even be a few months ago) when it was first released has changed, because we all know that technology is ever evolving and changing at such a rapid pace. This means the certification may have validated how to use the technology in a different way and since then we have not re-validated the skills necessary to use the technology in the market.
Changes to Certificates
Microsoft is making three small changes to their certificates, two of which mirror the changes they are making to the transcripts, specifically the certification number and inactive date. However, Microsoft is also adding a new piece of information that’s on your transcript today but not on your certificate: your certification achievement date. In other words, your certificate will now display the date on which you earned your certification. See below for an example of what this will look like:
If you’ve already printed or ordered your certificates, that’s fine—there’s no need for you to print or order replacements. (You can if you want to, of course, but the standard shipping fees apply if you choose to order one.) Just like with the transcripts, you’ll see these new changes in April (with the exception of the Inactive Dates, which will begin populating in June).
So that’s the complete rundown of what’s changing… so what do you think?