Being able to prove proficiency in common information technology (IT) tools and software is a good way to increase your qualifications in competing for positions in the IT sector. Microsoft products are used in many global businesses. Becoming certified will show an employer that you have been objectively tested as proficient in some of the tools and applications critical to the employer's success. Microsoft certification is available through Authorized Microsoft Testing Centers in the following areas: server technologies, developer tools, developer applications, Microsoft Dynamics, Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office, security and many other applications and solutions.

Decide on the particular Microsoft product to study for certification. You may have a lot of experience in the field, but you must pass the Microsoft-approved examination in your chosen subject area to be officially certified.

Decide on the level of certification. Some products have different levels of certification. Higher levels of certification generally require either more examinations or examinations showing a deeper level of knowledge about the product. Higher levels of certification and the knowledge they represent are more desirable to employers.

Select the study method for the certification. There are a number of ways to study for a particular examination. Books are often the least expensive and are good for people who work well independently. Some examples are the "MCSE Self Paced Training Kit" and "The Microsoft Certified Application Specialist Study Guide" (see Resources below).

Get more guidance through the many CBT (computer-based training) and online training programs available. One source of CBT training is CBT Planet (see Resources).

Sign up for classroom training from Microsoft Certified Trainers if you want more interaction and the opportunity to ask questions. Microsoft Certified Trainers often offer classes in their own facilities or on-site at companies with a larger number of employees who want to become certified in the same application or technology. The availability of Certified Trainers depends on where you live. Check the Training section of the Microsoft Certification section of Microsoft's site (see the Resources).

Complete the training. Make sure you know the material well before taking the exam. Most training materials and methods include practice exams. They also include quizzes and reviews to help you ascertain your level of knowledge or particular sections of the training material. Online and on-site courses will take differing amounts of time depending on the level of certification and Microsoft product.

Find a certified Microsoft examination center to take and pass the certification test. Exams at Microsoft authorized centers are monitored and supervised. The length of the exam depends on the product and level of certification desired. To find an authorized examination center, visit the Microsoft Certification section of Microsoft's site.