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Roadmap to Success: Windows 10 Specialist

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Roadmap to Success is a series of posts designed to help learners better understand certification pathways, career opportunities associated with those certifications, and next steps beyond certification.

UPDATED: We updated this article June 13, 2017, to reflect relevant changes to the Microsoft Windows 10 certification curriculum.

With the launch of Windows 10, workplaces are in need of IT professionals who can work effectively and efficiently with Microsoft’s latest operating system. Developing expertise using and administering Windows 10 can create professional opportunities to take your career to the next level. Generally, Windows 10 certifications qualify learners for roles in service or help desk, support, cloud services, IT admin, and more.

Microsoft Windows 10
Microsoft offers two certifications related to Windows 10: Windows 10 Specialist and Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): Windows 1070-697: Configuring Windows Devices is the exam required for the Specialist certification but is also the first of two exams for the MCSA certification. To earn the MCSA: Windows 10 certification, learners also must pass the 70-698: Installing and Configuring Windows 10 exam. For the purposes of this post, we’ll focus on the Windows 10 Specialist certification.

The 70-697: Configuring Windows Devices exam, for which CBT Nuggets provides training, gives credit toward the MCP, MCSA, and Specialist certifications. The exam is designed to affirm a learner’s knowledge and ability to build solid identities, protect content (data loss protection), institute mobile device management policy, deploy virtualization with Hyper-V, and manage applications using the Company Portal and the Windows Store. Learners will be evaluated on their understanding of Windows 10 security and integrated Azure features.

CBT Nuggets offers a Microsoft Windows 10 70-697: Configuring Windows Devices course that prepares learners for the 70-697 exam, whether they are pursuing an MCP, MCSA, or Specialist certification.

Generally, learners interested in pursuing the Windows 10 Specialist certification should have six months to two years of professional experience, including direct experience with Windows desktop administration, maintenance, and troubleshooting; basic experience with and understanding of Windows networking technologies; and basic knowledge of Active Directory and Microsoft Intune. The specialist certification is an entry-level certification, making it an appropriate first step for new IT professionals.

Downloadable Study Plan
CBT Nuggets offers a study plan that maps to Anthony Sequeira‘s Microsoft Windows 10 70-697: Configuring Windows Devices course. This downloadable Microsoft Windows 10 70-697 study plan breaks down the course and supplemental learning resources to equip learners with a strategic and manageable approach to conquer training goals. Download the Microsoft Windows 10 70-697 study plan.

Exam Details
Learners who earned the MCSA: Windows 8 certification between February 15, 2015, and May 31, 2015, can take the 70-697 exam for free. Learn more about the opportunity to take the 70-697 for free from Microsoft.

Time allotted for exam: 2 hours (120 minutes)
Number of Questions: 40-60
Passing score: 700*
Question types: Multiple choice/single answer; multiple choice/multiple answer; matching; simulations; short answer
Exam registration: Microsoft Learning or Pearson Vue
Please note that Microsoft Windows 10 certification exams may be available for online proctored delivery.
Exam cost: $165 (USD)
Skills Measured: Each exam registration page on the Microsoft website provides a list of Skills Measured (free resource) to guide your study and preparation.

*Because the number of questions varies, it is not necessarily true that learners must earn 70 percent to pass the exam.

Microsoft exams have a reputation for being challenging. Many learners find they have to take an exam more than once to achieve a successful outcome. Fortunately, Microsoft is aware of the level of challenge associated with their exams, and often provides an Exam Replay, allowing learners to retake exams at a fraction of the cost. Please note that the Exam Replay may not always be available. As of this post’s publication date, each of the exams associated with the Windows 10 Specialist certification offers the option to include Exam Replay, but that may change. Learners should research Exam Replay availability to avoid missing out on the opportunity.

Recertification

Neither Microsoft Specialist or MCSA certifications expire, meaning no recertification or continuing education is necessary to keep Specialist or MCSA certifications valid. Windows 10 Specialist or MCSA certifications are, effectively, lifetime certifications that are valid as long as the technology exists.

The Next Step
Many learners completing the Windows 10 Specialist certification will choose to continue within the Microsoft universe by pursuing the MCSA Windows 10 certification, which requires just one additional exam: 70-698.

Other learners may choose to supplement their product-specific expertise with further Microsoft certifications. Learners often opt for:

Career Considerations
Payscale.com  and SimplyHired.com are excellent resources for helping learners determine average pay scales for job opportunities associated with roles in IT. As an entry-level certification, it is typical to see the Windows 10 Specialist certification associated with desktop support technician roles, that commonly include a salary range of $30,784-$60,261. However, seasoned IT professionals may choose to add the specialist certification as a demonstration of their unique product expertise. This strategy often results in salary increases or bonuses. Common roles or titles for those who hold a Windows 10 certification include desktop support technician, product specialist, systems administrator, infrastructure engineer, desktop administrator, migration technician, and senior enterprise architect.

Microsoft Certifications
Microsoft certifications are laid out as a pyramid, with each level of certification leading learners to higher, more specialized, complex certifications. At the base of the Microsoft pyramid, IT professionals develop the foundation of knowledge with the MTA (Microsoft Technology Associate). The next level is the MCSA (Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate) and MCSD (Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer), which include many of the most popular certifications among IT professionals that are offered by Microsoft, including Server 2012, Office 365, and Azure. Finally, the MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solution Expert) represents the highest level of certification offered by Microsoft and provides learners the opportunity to develop specializations related to MCSA-level content.

As Microsoft describes it, the new MCSE and MCSD certifications (MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, MCSE: Mobility, MCSE: Data Management and Analytics, MCSE: Productivity, and MCSD: AppBuilder) are aligned to Centers of Excellence, used by the Microsoft Partner Network to identify technical competencies that are widely recognizable by both Microsoft partners and customers. These credentials do not have a recertification requirement. Instead, the achievement date signifies how you keep up with changes to the technology.

Each year, you have the opportunity to renew the certification by passing an exam from the list of electives, demonstrating your investment in broadening or deepening your skills in a given Center of Excellence. Each time you earn the certification, a new certification entry is added to your transcript. This process replaces the existing recertification requirement of taking a specific recertification exam every two years (MCSD) or every three years (MCSE) to prevent your certification from going inactive. Learn more about the new Microsoft certification structure.

Begin exploring other Microsoft training and certification options to open up even more professional development opportunities.

Concluding Thoughts
This is a great time to pursue a Windows 10 certification! The product is already well established across the industry. Earning a Windows 10 certification equips you with the skills and knowledge you need to stay ahead of the curve with Microsoft’s popular operating system!

Watch. Learn. Conquer Microsoft Windows 10!

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