< Choosing Microsoft Technical Career Certification >

MCSA vs MCSE vs MCITP : Microsoft Career Certification

IT certification is ever-changing. It often doesn't move forwards as quickly as many believe though...

Many Microsoft certifications for example have been around for over a decade, BUT the certification will have been updated many times inside that.

Over the last decade Microsoft in particular have been continually overhauling their certification tracks.

MCITP Networking/Server Exams Retire & Become MCSA/MCSE... Again

Around 2007-2008, Microsoft reworked many of their programs into the MCTS & MCITP group qualifications; 'Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist' and 'Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional'. Programs were also subdivided into individual MOC tests (Microsoft Official Curriculum.) However, most of these exams are now superseded by the re-introduced 'New' MCSA & MCSE certification groups (to confuse things, Microsoft previously used the MCSA and MCSE acronyms for other certifications), and the majority of MCITP exams were retired on 31 July 2014.

While the ‘old’ MCSA (Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator) and MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) networking qualifications have been around for many years, (following Windows Server through its evolution from the early NT Server & Server 2000 days), the ‘new’ MCSA (Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate) & MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert) are now the main-stay of current Microsoft network certification.

Both the MCSA and the MCSE are indications of an IT professional's skill set. Each certification comprises of a number of exams, where candidates have proven their expertise in different areas. Becoming Microsoft certified is a great way to broaden your skills and knowledge base, and consequently increase your career opportunities.

It should be noted that the MCSA & MCSE certification now also covers other areas, such as database technology. See Database Certification & Training for additional information on this area.

Professionals who are Microsoft certified can earn significantly higher salaries than their un-qualified co-workers and benefit from much greater job security. In the current marketplace, even established IT professionals are finding that they have to gain official certification, both to prove their abilities and to satisfy insurance and commercial employment requirements.

All the new MCSE certifications are designed to build on a base MCSA certification, meaning that progression from MCSA to MCSE is very streamlined. Some of the MCSA’s provide the basis for several MCSE specialisations.

The 'New' MCSA (Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate)

The MCSA networking & Windows OS (Operating System) qualifications generally lead to jobs in server administration, networking, support work and implementation engineering. In essence, they're aimed at people who want to become technical systems administrators, dealing with the day-to-day issues involved with the running of a medium-sized corporate network.

This type of work will suit those who are well disciplined and enjoy problem-solving and diagnostic challenges. As a Microsoft professional you can expect to have a lot of interaction with other people, and a very varied working life, as you never know what you're going to be doing from day to day. Adding the MCSA qualification to the CompTIA A+ and Network+ accreditations will springboard your career into full technical networking and systems administration. (CompTIA Security+ is also recommended for today's security-intensive network issues.)

There are 7 new MCSA groups now - with 5 related to networking or systems support & 2 relating to database technologies. Each MCSA has 2-3 required exams that constitute the overall certification.

The 'New' MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert)

The MCSE is aimed at people who want to be designers, planners and managers, and work at a more senior level. Those who aspire to be network engineers, senior network administrators, technical consultants, technical project managers and security professionals should consider this route. It's an appropriate career path for those with creative, spatial and leadership skills, although these aren't necessarily required. These roles may often involve management of both people and resources. The MCSE is perhaps one of the most globally recognised technical certifications in the IT industry today, and held at a considerable level of professional respect.

There are 9 new MCSE groups now - with 7 related to networking or systems support & 2 related to database technologies. Each MCSE has 4-5 required exams that constitute the overall certification, with each progressing from an MCSA grouping of 2-3 exams (see above) by adding 2 more exams:

  • MCSE: Server Infrastructure
  • MCSE: Desktop Infrastructure
  • MCSE: Private Cloud
  • MCSE: Enterprise Devices and Apps
  • MCSE: Messaging
  • MCSE: Communication
  • MCSE: SharePoint
  • MCSE: Data Platform (Database related)
  • MCSE: Business Intelligence (Database related)

IMPORTANT: It should be noted that while there is an MCSA based around Server 2008, the MCSE progression path ONLY utilises the MCSA Server 2012.

Getting Started On The Career Ladder

Many candidates achieve their CompTIA certifications and then work in industry as administrators and support technicians whilst they continue to study additional exams, to progress to MCSA/MCSE with some specialisation - like messaging, communications or cloud. Whichever track is the best one for you, there are excellent career opportunities available for both MCSA and MCSE certified professionals. Read on to investigate each in more detail...

Next : MCSA Certification  or  MCSE Certification
Consider : Database Certification  or  Cisco Certification

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