By Scott Ford, M.Ed.
If you are new to the IT industry, or maybe already have some experience, you owe it to yourself to investigate MTA Networking Fundamentals certification training and becoming MTA certified. The Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) family of certifications provide a great opportunity to become IT certified and jumpstart your career in technology. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about this essential certification for IT professionals.
What are MTA certifications?
I have taught computer certification courses to high school students, college students, and US Intelligence Community agents. In general, many “entry-level certifications” cost over $400 to just take the exam and boast a 70% or higher fail rate. MTA certification, however, is what I consider the perfect certification for someone looking to get a job in the IT industry.
What is the MTA exactly? Microsoft defines Microsoft Technology Associate certifications as “an entry-level certification that validates fundamental technology knowledge.” MTA is a family of certifications developed to help people new to the IT industry show fundamental competency in various IT technologies. It is part of their Microsoft Virtual Academy program and was designed for secondary and post-secondary (college) students. It doesn’t mean however that you must be a student to take these exams.
Other Great Features of The MTA Certifications
- Currently, there are fourteen different exams covering a wide range of skill sets.
- None of the MTA certifications expire, it is a lifetime certification.
- You only need to pass one exam to get the MTA certification.
- Microsoft has specifically designed the MTA certifications to be part of the natural pathway towards other higher-level Microsoft certifications.
- The exams cost a fraction of what other certifications charge.
- It is backed by one of the most powerful IT companies in the world, Microsoft.
Why should I get MTA Networking Fundamentals certified?
Earning your MTA Network Fundamentals certification shows prospective employers you have the knowledge skills and abilities (KSAs) to do the job. We don’t have mandatory state or national testing in the IT industry. Employers prefer to hire people they know can do a job. For someone who might have a resume sparse on the relevant job experiences, then certification is your proof of competency.
Second, it could lead to promotions. There is a natural progression in the IT industry. Once you land the job you work your way toward more and more advanced training. This is when taking classes and showing a series of certifications along the way can lead towards that promotion.
Third, it distinguishes you from the competition. Earning and in-demand MTA certification will help make you stand out from the pack when you apply for jobs.
Fourth is simply, personal satisfaction. I can tell you there is nothing as gratifying as working on learning and mastering a new topic or field and getting that affirmation in the form of passing a certification exam. If you are a gamer, think of getting certified as an achievement, except these matter in the real world.
Finally, and probably the most important for students, is money! Studies by trade organizations, universities, and other groups have shown again and again certification has a high correlation to making more money. If you get certified and continue to train and get more certifications you are much more likely that your non-certified peers to bring in a higher income.
What exam(s) must I take to become MTA Networking Fundamentals certified?
All MTA certification requires you to pass an exam. For MTA Networking Fundamentals, you will need to take and pass exam 98-366 Networking Fundamentals.
How much does it cost to take the exam(s)?
According to Microsoft, the MTA Networking Fundamentals exam 98-366 is $127 (USD).
Where do I go to take the exams?
MTA certification exams are done at either at a testing center or online. If you are a student, check to see if your college has either a Pearson|VUE or Certiport testing center. If your campus does not have one, or if you are not a student you can register for the exam and schedule the exam through Pearson VUE or Certigo. MTA exams can either be taken in-person at an approved testing center or at your home or office with an online proctor.
What are the exams like?
All MTA exams are computer-based with a time limit of between 40-50 minutes with 30-40 questions. This is more than enough time to make your way through the exam and go back to questions that you might have marked for review. Recently, I have sat for three MTA certifications and, each time, I had plenty of time to go through the exam and go back through it completely a second time.
The exam is computer-based. The testing administrator will log you into the computer – and the testing software will show you the user policies and the non-disclosure agreement (NDA). You click accept. Once you accept the NDA you will then be presented with a screen showing you how to answer the questions. If you have never taken the MTA or other IT certification exams, take the time to read this. This is not part of your 40-50 minute time limit.
Once you click start, your exam will begin. Some question types you will see are: multiple choice, matching, complete the statement (basically asking you to drag and drop snippets of code to complete a program), and is this sentence correct (similar to a true-false question, if the word is used correctly you check “no correction is needed” or if the word is not used correctly, you select another choice to make the statement true).
What if I don’t pass the first time?
If you don’t pass your MTA exam the first time you have to wait for twenty-four hours before taking it again. If you for some reason do not pass it the second time, you must wait another 7 days to retake. The number of attempts, per MTA certification, is limited to up to 5 times in a twelve-month period.
What equipment do I need to prepare for the MTA Networking Fundamentals?
Here is some great news. When you sign up for MTA Networking Fundamentals course at StraighterLine – you get the eBook, lecture notes, quizzes and lecture videos. As far as additional equipment, you really don’t need anything else. I would recommend downloading the free Oracle VM Virtualbox (and a trial version (180 days) of Microsoft Windows Server ). So, to be clear, that is all you need for this course.
If you want to move forward in your networking career, there are some other tools you might want to invest in. Here is a quick list of items to put on your resource list:
- Software (most, if not all, of these you can find as a free version):
- Packet sniffer
- Port scanner
- Wi-Fi Analyzer
- Cable tester
- Punchdown tools
- Wireless router
- Unshielded twisted pair cable
Do I need to take a class to prepare?
While developing the MTA Networking Fundamentals course for StraighterLine, I focused on two important goals. The first was to make sure students who took this course had the what it takes to pass their MTA certification exam. The second, and the most important for your long-term success, was to make sure you learned the skills needed to successfully do the job once you are hired.
While it is not mandatory to take any class to pass a certification exam, it is highly recommended. Some other companies will ask you to invest several hundred or thousands of dollars to go through their courses. At StraighterLine, you pay almost the same price as the actual Microsoft book for this course and get access to lecture notes, lecture videos, quizzes, and the eBook for one low price. As someone who has paid a lot more to take IT training classes, StraighterLine’s MTA training courses provide a flexible and cost-effective option to prepare to take the MTA Networking Fundamentals certification exam.
Interested in taking a MTA certification prep course? Enroll in StraighterLine’s low-cost MTA Networking Fundamentals prep course and prepare for your exam at an affordable cost!
About the author: Scott Ford, M.Ed., is an award-winning senior instructional designer and President of Scott Ford Consulting. He has had the honor of developing training courses that have been used by the DEA, FBI, CIA, law enforcement officers, and oil and gas companies. Scott received his M.Ed. from Texas A&M and is CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, MTA, MCP, MCDST, and MOS certified.