Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician (MCDST)
(Please note that this certification is part of a series launched by Microsoft primary for Information Technology professionals or as Microsoft classifies it – IT Professionals – for those who are Information Technology (IT) specialists in that this is there career (there are also additional certifications for Developers and Trainers). Please do also not that people whose careers lie in Computer Science, Software Engineering and Information Systems are also classified as IT Professionals in this manner.)
Introduction: What is this certification all about?
A Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician (MCDST) evaluates your skills in manipulating, using, repairing and troubleshooting “Desktop Environments’ of the various Microsoft Windows operating systems. It basically shows that you possess enough ability to teach another non-professional individual on how to fully use a Microsoft Windows Operating System in daily tasks – and is appropriate for trainers – and those who would like to test their skills as Teachers. However please do also note that this certification also deals with, as Microsoft aptly puts it, with “complex computing environments of small, medium-sized, and large organizations” – thus its isn’t only the individual but the entire organizations that count.
Additionally, this certification can be thought of as the second level after the Microsoft Technology Specialist certifications that are covered in a previous articles – and are like ‘the basics’ of various Microsoft Technologies (apart from the Microsoft Business Cortication which deals with Microsoft Office and Windows Vista). Therefore a person may earn a Microsoft Technology Specialist Certification on his/her way to earning a Microsoft Certified IT Professional certification.
What are the Pre-requisites?
Microsoft requires that you have at least “Six to twelve months of experience in supporting end users of a desktop operating system” – this means that you must have experience in assisting ordinary individuals in how to repair, correct or use their Windows Operating System – this certification now focuses on a job skill that involves interaction with the individual and organization who use Microsoft’s various operating systems – from XP to Vista to Windows 7
Also you should have sufficient preparation for the exams.
Additionally depending upon the exam and location, several pre-requisites may be required. However, unlike other certifications, this certification is NOT covered into sub-certifications and requires
Who is this certification for?
This certification is for ‘IT Professionals’ – for those who use software and technologies other than Microsoft Office or Windows Vista/XP/7 in their work. This covers nearly all fields in information technology, computer science and information systems
Why should I get certified? What benefits are there?
The quote below, taken from the Microsoft website should be more than enough.
“Forty-three percent of survey respondents report salary increases as a result of Microsoft Certification.”
– Redmond magazine 2006 survey of Microsoft IT professional’s compensation
These certifications allow an IT professional to keep up with a dynamic marketplace and gain an ‘edge’ – which will at times be the only thing that will differentiate you from a number of candidates. It also provides you technical problem-solving skills and experience that is useful in real world problems one encounters in the workplace.
Additionally, and as is the case in many jobs, Microsoft technologies are being used. And example is the usage of Microsoft SQL Server technologies that are used in databases. Having certification in this may be a requirement or an added advantage for you.
This also provides access to several online resources on the Microsoft website that are specifically for Microsoft Certified Professionals (MCP’s)
Individuals who are certified with the Microsoft Certified IT Professional certification are generally capable of organizing, creating, designing, developing, and operating Microsoft technologies for a specific job.
How do I take the exams?
Exams are conducted by Prometric (www.prometric.com) and are conducted in various locations – and possibly online. However, you have to check the website since this depends on your location and time of registration.
How do I prepare for the exams?
There are several options in terms of preparing yourself. Please note that some such as the books and practice tests can be used together whereas the practice tests cannot be used alone to prepare yourself. These are:
Practice tests: Provided by several websites, which are Microsoft Certified Practice Test Providers, these allow you to get a feel of your current levele and in the case where you are pursuing independent study, these tests will prove useful. These cannot be used alone as preparation methods.
Instructor-led training in centers worldwide: various centers worldwide have Microsoft Certified Trainers who provide a superior learning experience by using in-depth knowledge that they possess as well as by using Microsoft Learning Products. However, please check that your trainer or training centre is certified by Microsoft or not before starting preparation. This is the recommended method.
E-Learning Self-paced training: another option provided by Microsoft; this allows those who use Microsoft technologies in the workplace and want to enhance their skills,. “Microsoft E-Learning self-paced training offers you the flexibility to learn at a time and place that is convenient for you” – ideal for those whose schedule cannot allow fixed classes. However please note that this is for those who have the ability to grasp concepts easily and have experience in independent study, in for example, university during the time when they were preparing for their degree.
Microsoft Official Distance Learning: Distance learning is a sort of system whereby the classroom is ‘virtualized’ – in essence you learn exactly as though you were in a classroom. This is also a recommended method since it is conducted by Microsoft Professionals and is also cost effective. Additionally, it can also fit into your busy schedule easily. It is also a combination, sort of, of the E-Learning Self Paced Training and Instructor led training – the best combination by far.
Microsoft Press books: Microsoft has published various books on nearly all of its certifications. Using these hand in hand with several other options and as a reference is suitable. Studying through these alone is not recommended – although it depends on the person.
Self-paced training kits: these are complete, DIY type, kits that combine a number of items that allow you to study independently. These have been developed by Microsoft specialists and are also a suitable mode of learning. These kits include the following items (as per Microsoft’s website):
- A 15 percent exam discount voucher from Microsoft
- Official, self-paced study guide, including a fully searchable e-book version
- Practice tests with multiple, customizable testing options and a learning roadmap based on your results
- More than 200 practice and review questions
- Case scenarios, practice exercises, and best practices
- A 180-day evaluation version of the product that is covered by the kit
- Microsoft online resources: Microsoft has included various resources on its own website that provide you with information, allow you to create your own study guides, interact with professionals and students alike and much more
How am I certified?
To be certified you have to pass the exams (two) by a substantial mark as dictated by Microsoft and as per the exam. For this certification no other requirements – such as interviews or experience proof is required.
Additionally, please note that this is a difficult certification – as seen from the aforementioned table – you are required to pass two to four exams. That is why having experience, as mentioned earlier, is essential.
What certifications and exams come under this?
Here is a complete list of the certifications and various exams that come under this certification category – it has no sub-certifications.
|Required exams||Exam number|
|Supporting Users and Troubleshooting a Windows XP Operating System|
|Supporting Users and Troubleshooting Desktop Applications on a Windows XP Operating System|
Link to Official Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician (MCDST) website