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Microsoft Debuts Tech Certifications for Students

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Microsoft is expanding its technology certification options to include offering tests for non-IT majored students so they may receive a Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certification. These certifications are meant to better prepare them for the working world after they graduate as well as for careers in technology.

The newly-created MTA program is designed to provide certifications for college students who have "no prior IT or development experience or employment," the company said. All told, the MTA program will provide a total of seven certifications -- three IT certifications, three development certifications, and one database certification.

Although Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) has long-established technology training and certification programs for IT professionals, office workers, and developers, this is the first time the company has implemented certifications for students, according to a Microsoft statement.

Microsoft plans the new certifications to be stepping stones to technology careers, beginning with higher-level certifications such as Microsoft Certified Technology Specialists. "The MTA will eventually be available in thousands of high schools, vocational programs and colleges in the U.S. and other countries," Microsoft's statement said.

The IT certifications test students for their knowledge of networking, security, and Windows server fundamentals, while the development certifications cover software, Windows, and Web development fundamentals. Finally, the database certification test deals with database administration fundamentals, the company's statement said.

Among the educational materials provided by Microsoft are MTA Certification Exam Review Kits as well as 20 hours of instructional materials for each exam.

To participate in the MTA program, colleges must be members of the Microsoft IT Academy, "a membership-based organization that offers IT training and resources to schools," according to Microsoft's statement.

Just as in Microsoft's professional level certifications, a commercial testing service named Certiportadministers the MTA examinations.

In late June, Microsoft announced a new set of examinations supporting the enterprise delivery of Office 2010. Those certifications, however, are targeted at IT professionals.

The software giant announced the MTA certifications at the Microsoft Education Leaders Forumin Warsaw, Poland earlier this week.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

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