You may not have heard the complaints about the Microsoft Certified Trainer program… you may not be involved or interested in the program, or you may live on Mars. However if you are an MCT, you have heard a lot of complaints over the past few years. I have done my best to keep my issues with the program private, but I know that many of my MCT peers are much more vocal than I.
As the MCT Regional Lead for Canada last year I spent a lot of time speaking with the people responsible for the program, especially as they made efforts to revamp the program – certainly the first time they have done so since I joined it in 2006. A lot of the changes that we (MCTs) have been asking for have been introduced recently… not all, but many will be widely welcome by the wide community of active MCTs.
You may notice that I referred to active MCTs. That is because a lot of MCTs do not train anymore, and many more exclusively train non-official courseware. That may be for many reasons and I will not judge them. However if they are not active trainers, they do not need to be active MCTs. Because of that, Microsoft Learning Experiences have introduced a new program: MCT Alumni. This is for people who were MCTs, but no longer teach official courseware.
How does Microsoft Learning Experiences (MS Lex) determine if you are active or Alumni? It’s simple… if you don’t teach any Microsoft Official Curriculum (MOC) courses in a program year, you become Alumni. While you must still pay dues to remain an MCT Alumni, it is about 1/8th the cost of the annual MCT dues (for IT professionals & Developers) – $49 for those who join the ‘Charter Class’ of MCT Alumnis – on or before June 30th, 2014, and $99 per year for those joining after that date.
The advantage to the MCT Alumni program is two-fold. For inactive MCTs they can remain connected to the program for a much lower annual fee, while still retaining many of the benefits. For active MCTs they can differentiate themselves – I teach current technology and am current in my skills. Both sides benefit.
Incidentally, for the first time that I know of, the yearly dues for MCTs will also be going up. Starting July 1st, the New MCT Fee(for IT Pro & Dev) will be $1,000, and then $800 per year. This is new in two ways – there was never a ‘new MCT’ fee before, you simply paid your dues, which were $400/year (and have been since I joined the program).
For the last few years MCTs have been given a free TechNet Plus subscription. Unfortunately the TechNet team ended that program (we will still have our software rights from the last year through September, 2014). There was a huge uproar from the MCTs, and while Microsoft MS Lex told the MCT Regional Leads that they were working on a replacement for that program, it was not announced until very recently.
Going forward, depending on the type of MCT you are, you will get one of the following:
|MCT Software & Services||MCT Developer Software & Services|
|Software downloads through MSDN||Software downloads through MSDN|
|Office 365||Visual Studio Ultimate|
|$100 Windows Azure credit per month||Office 365 Developer Subscription|
|Visual Studio Online Advanced|
|$150 Windows Azure credit per month|
|Windows and Windows Phone developer accounts|
As far as I am concerned as an IT Pro Trainer, I expect I will have everything that I need with that level of benefits… and much more. A couple of the Dev MCTs I have spoken to are jumping for joy that they will be getting Visual Studio Ultimate and Online Advanced.
One of my favorite MCT benefits has always been the exam discounts. I have, to date, written 68 Microsoft exams. Let’s say that twenty of them were beta exams and maybe another eight were from vouchers I got for whatever reason, that means I have still paid for forty exams. Although it has changed over that time – the original exams were $100 then $125 and now $150 – let’s say the majority of them cost $125. That makes $5,000 worth of exams. The 50% discount we get as MCTs makes a huge difference! Unfortunately the down side to that is that you had to call in and speak to a rep, rather than simply registering on-line.
That, I discovered yesterday, has changed. Woohoo! I called to register a bunch of exams, and instead of him looking up the MCT discount code, I was told to go on-line and request one (per exam). In fairness to MS Lex, this change was made nine months ago, but as I mentioned in a recent post I did not write any certification exams in 2013. So as I sat on the line with the rep from Prometric, I dug on Born to Learn and found the link: http://bsf01.com/microsoft_vouchers/mct_portal.aspx. I registered for and received four codes within seconds. All you have to do is provide your name, e-mail address, and MCP ID – and yes, it does check to see if you are an MCT or not, so don’t try this if you are not
Incidentally, an added benefit of these vouchers that nobody had told me about – the voucher is also good for a free re-take if you fail your first exam, (second shot). Having failed a ridiculous number of exams (albeit many of those were beta exams) I am glad to have this safety net.
It is now 2014 and I am no longer a MCT Regional Lead – spending most of my time outside of my region made that decision necessary. However I still care about MCTs and the program, and am glad to see that Microsoft has evolved the program – the first time in over twenty years that I know of. It may not be perfect, but it is certainly a very good start, and you can’t please everyone. I for one am satisfied, and I suspect the majority of MCTs will be too.
If you are dropping from the program this year I hope you stay as an MCT Alumni… I am looking forward to speaking with some of them and hearing their thoughts on the program!