By Scott Ford, M.Ed.
Looking for a great entry credential into an IT career? Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) family of certifications and the MTA Software Development Fundamentals certification may be just what you are looking for. If you are new to the IT industry, or maybe been around for a little while, you owe it to yourself to investigate this dynamic certification provided by one of the best-known IT companies in the world, Microsoft.
What are the MTA certifications?
Having taught computer certification courses to high school students, college students, and US Intelligence Community agents, the MTA is what I consider the perfect certification for someone looking to get into the IT industry.
What is the MTA exactly? Microsoft defines it as “an entry-level certification that validates fundamental technology knowledge.” It 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 the secondary and post-secondary (college) students. It doesn’t mean however that you must be a student to take these exams.
Here are other great features of MTA Certifications:
- Currently, there are fourteen different exams covering a wide range of skill sets.
- MTA certifications don’t 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 Software Development Fundamentals certified?
Here are the top reasons you should take a MTA Software Development Fundamentals prep course and sit for this MTA exam:
1) Show prospective employers that 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.
2) Earn a promotion. 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.
3) Distinguish yourself from the competition. The hard fact of the world we live in right now is job hunting is about as fun as rubbing lemon juice on a paper cut. You need anything on that resume or LinkedIn profile that will help make you stand out or survive the first round of eliminations.
4) Personal satisfaction. 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 have value for your career.
5) Earn a higher income. 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 Software Development Fundamentals certified?
All MTA certifications require that you pass a specific exam for that certification. To become MTA Software Development Fundamentals certified, you will be taking exam 98-361 Software Development Fundamentals.
How much does it cost to take the MTA Software Development Fundamentals exam?
All MTA exams are $127 (USD) as priced currently by Microsoft.
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.
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).
My overall observation from taking not only this exam recently, but also other MTA exams, is they are very fair and reasonable – especially for someone who has taken the proper steps to prepare.
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 Software Development Fundamentals?
Here is some great news. When you sign up for the MTA Software Development Fundamental course with StraighterLine – you get the eBook, lecture notes, quizzes and lecture videos. As far as additional equipment the only other resource recommended is the free download Visual Studio Community and SQL Server 2017 Express from Microsoft. These aren’t trial versions, but are fully functional programs. You will need both programs to do some of the hands-on labs.
Do I need to take a class to prepare for the MTA Software Development Fundamentals exam?
In developing this MTA certification training course for StraighterLine, I focused on two important goals. The first was to make sure students who took this course can 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 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 IT training is an easy, smart, and cost-effective decision.
Interested in taking a certification prep course? Enroll in StraighterLine’s low-cost MTA Software Development Fundamentals 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.