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Counting MCPs: new info sources and trends

Those who've been reading my Microsoft certification tips for a while already know that I like to review the counts of individuals earning various credentials from time to time. This helps me understand

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how Microsoft certs are doing and how growth rates change from credential to credential.

The counts also provide a continuing measure of the ongoing health of Microsoft's certification program overall (still the biggest around, by a reasonably large margin) and can demonstrate all kinds of interesting relationships among and between various credentials. For example: It's easy to earn an MCSA on the way to an MCSE, which suggests that monthly growth rates for MCSAs should be on par or stronger than those for MCSEs. However, it wasn't until Q4 of 2003 that the numbers actually supported this "common-sense" deduction. This tells me that MCPs didn't care that much about the MCSA at first, but that they started recognizing it as a stepping stone to MCSE about six to nine months after MCSA made its initial debut. Numbers like these tell all kinds of interesting stories, which is why I feel compelled to check them regularly, and report on them occasionally.

So, when the long-standing table of certified Microsoft professional counts vanished from the bottom of the home page at MCP Magazine's web site last month, I was a little concerned. Concerned enough, in fact, to call editorial director Dian Shaffhauser to ask "What gives?" She told me that the site was undergoing a redesign and that those numbers would surface shortly in a newly crafted certifications section. After checking back for about three weeks straight without finding that data, I was tickled to finally see the "MCP By the Numbers" show up right on the front page in the site's "Certification/Careers" section. I guess this falls under the heading of "everything really always does take longer than it's supposed to," even when a redesign shouldn't hold things up for too terribly long.

In the interim, another source of certification statistics has surfaced on one of Microsoft's own MCP pages entitled "Microsoft Certified Professionals Worldwide." Right now, pleasingly enough, the numbers at both MCP Magazine and the Microsoft web site are in complete agreement.

A word of warning: Microsoft has occasionally posted counts for certifications at various locations in its web site in the past few years. But sooner or later, these pages seem to disappear or go for long periods without updates. I'm hopeful that MCP Magazine will help keep these numbers current and am glad to see two potential sources for this data. Count on me to report on those numbers from time to time, as interesting trends emerge, growth rates change or new measurements appear.

Ed Tittel is a long-time certification follower. He's series editor for Exam Cram 2, a popular assembly of cert prep books from Que Publishing, and a contributing editor for Certification Magazine. He also covers certification topics for InformIT.com, and numerous other TechTarget Web sites.

This was first published in March 2004

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