MVP vs MCT
Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) vs Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT)
Ok, I'll admit it - the title of this article is a bit misleading. Comparing the MVP award against the MCT is like comparing apples and oranges. There is a method in my madness however! I've found myself talking a lot about both the MVP and MCT programs recently, and when explaining them to others, I've discovered that there's a misconception that one precedes the other, for example, you must first achieve MCT before MVP, and that there's some confusion between what both awards stand for.
This article is my attempt at clearing that up.
A Microsoft MVP, or Most Valuable Professional, is a title awarded by Microsoft to recognise individuals who have demonstrated expertise and leadership in their communities. These communities can be online forums, blogs, podcasts, social media, events such as user groups, open-source projects, or any other platforms where people share their knowledge and passion for Microsoft technologies.
To become a Microsoft MVP, you need to be nominated by either an existing MVP or a Microsoft employee. The nomination process requires you to provide evidence of your contributions to the community over the past 12 months, such as links to your blog posts, videos, presentations, code samples, etc. You also need to specify your area of expertise, such as Azure, AI, Security, etc.
I was nominated for MVP in Jan/Feb 2023 and was awarded MVP in April 2023 under the Azure category. The evidence I submitted included my Azure Pirate and Azure Projects activities, various blog posts, open-sourcing code on GitHub, code samples and templates, guest appearances on YouTube videos and podcasts, public speaking, responses to questions on online forums, and mentoring.
The guidance I had from Microsoft before submitting my evidence was that they were looking for impact - i.e. quality over quantity and how the content you produce benefits the communities you are serving. For example, you could write a blog post a week for an entire year, but if no one reads them, there's little to no impact. On the flip side, if you can demonstrate how a handful of articles have impacted a wide audience (captured through feedback and website metrics such as site visits and page visit duration), you've undoubtedly had a greater impact.
Up until the point of writing this article, I was under the impression that MVP evidence could not be paid work, but I've since been corrected. You can submit paid work as evidence providing it's not your full-time job. For example, publishing a book and producing LinkedIn Learning courses.
If you are accepted as a Microsoft MVP, you will receive a trophy and a digital certificate, and get access to a plethora of fantastic benefits. The below are my personal favourites, but there are many more:
An Azure Sponsorship Subscription with a bucket load of Azure credits! - I use this to host The Cloud Pirate's Azure resources in addition to running R&D and demos.
Access to the MVP Distribution Lists (under NDA) - now this for me is the biggie! It's direct access to the Microsoft product groups and fellow MVPs, which is very handy when seeking advice.
Early Access - To Microsoft product group announcements and updates and access to closed trials etc.
The Microsoft MVP Summit - held annually in Seattle and online, the summit provides a platform for MVPs to connect with Microsoft executives and engineers, learn about upcoming technologies, and provide feedback on Microsoft products.
GitHub Pro - which I mainly use for GitHub Codespaces and GitHub Copilot!
LinkedIn Learning and Pluralsight access - training, training, training!
NDA = non-disclosure agreement (also known as a confidentiality agreement)
Being a Microsoft MVP is not a job or a contract with Microsoft. It is a voluntary and honorary role that recognises your passion and commitment to helping others succeed with Microsoft technologies.
Becoming an MVP is the highlight of my career to date, and it's incredibly rewarding, but it takes time and effort - not only to achieve but to maintain.
As the MVP award runs on an annual basis, if you wish to continue the award for another year, you need to continue with your community efforts and submit a further 12 months of evidence - albeit this time without the need for nomination.
This to me required a total mentality shift. Before my nomination, I was creating content because I wanted to, and the award was the cherry on top. But now I have the award, it almost feels like something I have to do. Don't get me wrong, I still very much enjoy what I do, it just feels a little different to before. Thankfully, the benefits of the award and the continued support of the community offset this feeling - just as it does with the imposter syndrome (which I found has not magically disappeared since getting the award)!
Whilst MVP is awarded for "exceptional expertise and leadership in their communities", MCT (Microsoft Certified Trainer) is awarded as recognition given to individuals who have demonstrated their expertise in Microsoft technologies and their ability to deliver effective training to others.
MCT is specifically scoped to training, and unlike MVP, it can include paid activities, such as any training you deliver as part of your job.
MCT is not a requirement before getting MVP, or vice versa.
You often find that MVPs such as myself also have the MCT award, which is where I believe the confusion may be coming from. It's possible to have both, but one is not a requirement for the other.
Like MVP, MCT is awarded annually and comes with its own set of benefits, such as Azure credits and access to official Microsoft training and certification products under NDA. There's a fantastic community built up around the MCT programme, which is centralised around an online area called the 'MCT Lounge', which includes forums, event calendars, centralised resources and support.
I've held MCT since 2021. Back then, from what I remember anyway, you needed a nomination from an existing MCT, and had to upload a spreadsheet evidencing the training you had delivered. Back in 2021, I delivered about 3 or 4 customer workshops on topics such as Azure Fundamentals and Azure Governance, which I had done as part of my job at the time. Other than having done enough to warrant a nomination, I don't recall it being overly troublesome when providing the evidence and getting the award. It wasn't a patch on what the MVP application process was like!
Things have changed since then however. To become an MCT now, you first need to have an eligible certification (e.g. Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate) and also must have verifiable proof of having delivered a training course from one of the listed providers (which I'm led to believe you must pay for to deliver). You no longer need to be nominated. It's a case of enrolling once you feel you meet the requirements.
I'm not sure when these changes came into effect exactly, but I believe it may have been sometime in October 2023.
The new enrolment requirements are a lot stricter than what it was back when I first got MCT, and I feel this is a good thing. Although I deliver the occasional workshop and mentoring session, I feel that people like myself who have and flaunt the award, water down the recognition the true trainers deserve. There are people out there who earn a living from delivering Microsoft training courses, and really, this award is for them. This is my personal opinion at least - but perhaps this is also the imposter syndrome kicking in!
The renewal criteria for MCT still seem to be based on the older model of a spreadsheet-based evidence upload, provided you also possess one of the listed certifications. If they changed the renewal criteria to meet the newer requirements, I would expect the number of MCT holders to be totally decimated!
Both MVP and MCT are more than just shiny badges to collect. They take hard work and dedication to achieve and maintain.
A Microsoft MVP, or Most Valuable Professional, is a title awarded by Microsoft to recognise individuals who have demonstrated exceptional technical expertise and leadership in their communities.
The evidence required to get MVP is more along the lines of public speaking, blogs, podcasts, social media, open-source projects, forum participation, etc.
You must first be nominated before being able to apply to MVP.
An MCT, or Microsoft Certified Trainer, is a title awarded by Microsoft to individuals who have demonstrated their expertise in Microsoft technologies and their ability to deliver effective training to others.
The evidence required to get MCT is having an eligible certification (e.g. Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate) and also having verifiable proof of delivering a training course from a specific provider.
You apply to become an MCT once you feel you meet the requirements. You do not need to be nominated.
You do not need to get MCT before being able to get MVP, or vice versa. They are two different things entirely, however, it's common to find people who have both.
If you're anything like me, even when having each award, you still feel like an imposter!