Everything old is new again: the MCSE and MCSA are dead (long live the MCSE and MCSA)

May 14, 2012 at 8:15 am | Posted in Certification Paths, Microsoft, Vendor news | 37 Comments
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(ETA 10/01/12: Microsoft is still rolling out changes to these tracks. Be sure to check Microsoft Learning, Born To Learn, and our blog for the most current information on MCSA and MCSE. Because exam retirements are subject to change without notice, please go to the official Microsoft Retired exams list to confirm or deny a specific test’s retirement date, as it may have changed since this post was originally published.)

We also recommend you review our post on merging your MCITP with the MCSA: Customer asks: Is now the time to study for Windows Server 2008 certification, or Server 2012?

Yesterday a vendor called me on the phone and said that he had a great price on the latest MCSE classes. He went on to explain that these classes taught all the latest, hottest technologies. They were so virtualized, a team of physicists argued over their very existence. They were so far up in the cloud, you needed a telescope to find your exam. Once he’d wound down the hyperbole, I asked him what operating system was covered in the classes, and he proudly told me, “Windows Server 2003.”

I have news for you, buddy: Windows Server 2003 is nine years old. The problem is that MCSE, as a certification, became both the gold standard for HR staff and a synonym for the “brand” of Microsoft certification. When Microsoft retired those certifications in favor of the MCITP and MCPD and MCTS in 2005, they had problems selling the switch to die-hard certification holders. More importantly, it faced uneven adoption in the business realm. No one really jumped on the bandwagon. Human Resource managers and hiring managers still referred to MCSA and MCSE in job listings.  Vendors who called me on the phone only knew “MCSE” and “MCSA.” (Sales people in my own office still do not understand the differences between MCTS and MCITP, but at least they realized the MCSE was gone.) I’ve had students tell me they’ve applied for recent jobs that cited a MCSE as a requirement. I guess Microsoft felt the time was right to reanimate the dead MCSA and MCSE certifications. As I’m sure you’ve heard by now–that clueless vendor had it half-right. The MCSE and MCSA are back!

The new MCSE is not your Dad’s MCSE. First of all, MCSE now stands for Microsoft Certified SOLUTIONS EXPERT, not Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer.  If you attain the new and re-released MCSE, you are an expert in Microsoft solutions, not an engineer. (You are an engineer if you passed a lot of physics and calculus classes.) The new MCSA is now called Microsoft Certified SOLUTIONS ASSOCIATE, instead of  Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator. That also makes more sense. If you attain the MCSA you are certified in various Microsoft solutions, but not necessarily a sysadmin. The old MCSE made you pass several tests based on the Windows operating system plus an elective subject, like Exchange Server or SQL Server. The new MCSE currently offers certifications in MCSE – Private Cloud and MCSE SQL Server 2012. Going forward, Microsoft will offer more MCSE certifications as new versions of products are released. Look for the MCSE Data Platform certification to roll out tests in June 2012. The new MCSA is similar the old MCSA. Microsoft currently offers certifications in MCSA Windows Server 2008 and MCSA SQL Server 2012, but will offer more MCSA certifications as new versions of products are released. To get the MCSA: Windows Server 2008, you would have to pass the following:

  • Exam 70-640 – windows Server 2008 Active Directory, Configuring
  • Exam 70-642 – Windows Server 2008 Network Infrastructure, Configuring
  • Exam 70-646 – Windows Server 2008, Server Administrator

Hey, wait a minute. Wasn’t there already a certification for someone who passed the above tests? Yeah, it was called the MCITP: Server Administrator on Windows Server 2008. The good news is that if you’ve been studying toward these exams, you haven’t wasted your precious certification time. The Private Cloud certification requires that you pass the following:

  • Exam 70-640 – windows Server 2008 Active Directory, Configuring
  • Exam 70-642 – Windows Server 2008 Network Infrastructure, Configuring
  • Exam 70-646 – Windows Server 2008, Server Administrator
  • Exam 70-247 – Configuring & Deploying a Private Cloud with System Center 2012  OR  Exam 70-659 Windows Server 2008 R2 Virtualization
  • Exam 70-246 – Configuring Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud with System Center 2012

The 70-246 and 70-247 exams should be released this summer. The SQL Server 2012 MCSE Server certification has two different platforms:  Data Platform or Business Intelligence. To get the MCSE: Data Platform, you have to pass the following:

  • Exam 70-461 – Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012
  • Exam 70-462 – Administering a Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Database
  • Exam 70-463 – Implementing Data Warehouses with Microsoft SQL Server 2012
  • Exam 70-464 – Developing Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Databases
  • Exam 70-465 – Designing Database Solutions for SQL Server 2012

If you have a MCTIP: Database Developer 2008 certification or MCTIP: Database Administrator 2008 certification on SQL Server 2008, you can upgrade to the MCSE: Data Platform by passing the following:

  • Exam 70-457 – Transition your MCTS on SQL Server 2008 to MCSA: SQL Server 2012 Part 1
  • Exam 70-458 – Transition your MCTS on SQL Server 2008 to MCSA: SQL Server 2012 Part 2
  • Exam 70-459 – Transition your MCTIP to MCSE: Data Platform

To get the MCSE: Business Intelligence, you have to pass the following:

  • Exam 70-461 – Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012
  • Exam 70-462 – Administering a Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Database
  • Exam 70-463 – Implementing Data Warehouses with Microsoft SQL Server 2012
  • Exam 70-466 – Implementing Data Models and Reports with Microsoft SQL Server 2012
  • Exam 70-467 – Designing Business Intelligence Solutions with Microsoft SQL Server 2012

If you have a MCTIP: Business Intelligence 2008 certification on SQL Server 2008, you can upgrade to the MCSE: Business Intelligence by passing the following:

  • Exam 70-457 – Transition your MCTS on SQL Server 2008 to MCSA: SQL Server 2012 Part 1
  • Exam 70-458 – Transition your MCTS on SQL Server 2008 to MCSA: SQL Server 2012 Part 2
  • Exam 70-460 – Transition your MCTIP: Business Intelligence 2008 to MCSE: Business Intelligence.

These exams should be released later this year. This would be an excellent time to answer some questions I’m sure you have.

What about your MCTS and MCTIP certifications?

Well, you will still have those, but as time goes by they will retire.

If I get a new MCSA or new MCSE certification, will I have to recertify?

You betcha, brothers and sisters. The MCSA and MCSE certification will probably last only about 3 years before you have to recertify.  What constitutes recertifying?  You will have to pass a test or series of tests. The MCTS and MCTIP will become  like a Cisco CCNA certification, the CompTIA A+, and other certifications where you will have to recertify every three years. Microsoft wants to keep the MCSE and MCSA certifications relevant.  You can read more about this policy on Microsoft’s site. If you’re still confused, I recommend these informative videos from the Born To Learn blog:

Microsoft Certified Trainers Explain MCSE

In my next blog post, I’ll go over the new “extended matching” item types being rolled out in Microsoft’s exams. Until then, keep your nose clean and your acronyms straight. –George Monsalvatge

37 Comments »

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  1. […] their push toward MCSA and MCSE certifications (covered by George here), Microsoft is offering a fairly unprecedented deal on certification exams: pay full price now, […]

  2. I’ve just registered for an A+ Certificate, on completion of the certification what would be the right Certification to take on. Many of my seniors advised me to take on MCSE (formally known as Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) but now it seems like everything is changing and I don’t want to waist my time registering for a certification that will be of no use to the field

    • Asavela, the answer depends entirely on what your current skillset is, and what kind of job you hope to have. The MCSE is a solid certification – if it matches your career goals. Can you give us more information?

  3. Regarding Database :

    1. I am a bit confused whether to go for OCA/OCP or MCSA/MCSE , as MCSA seems to have changed its certifications after every 2-3years i guess comparative to Oracle.

    2. After expiration of our certification, does that mean i cannot write the certification on my cv any more.

    3. That means if i do MCSA SQL 2012, today how long will i expect it to be alive?

    4. Also please suggest me which one is more stable,reliable and job oriented?
    OCA/OCP or MCSA/MCSE ?

    • Regarding Microsoft certifications on your CV: you can include your past certifications on your resume for as long as they seem relevant. You may not be applying for a job that requires certification in Windows 2000 Server….but if you earned a Windows 2000 Server certification, you could certainly include it if you wanted to show how long you had been certified in Microsoft technologies.

      A Microsoft certification is now tied to the life cycle of the product. That means that if you have a MCSA SQL 2012, it will be valid for as long as SQL 2012 is supported by Microsoft.

      I’ll pass the rest of your questions along to our Oracle expert.

      • Sorry Ann but I have to disagree with some of your reply. I don’t believe that certs will only be relevant as long as a product is supported by Microsoft,

        it is technologies such NTFS file systems and the windows registry that are core features of windows that haven’t really changed that much and are just as relevant to server 2003 as they are to server 2008 etc.

        Also networking hasn’t changed much either, Ethernet is over 30 years old! if you understand IPV4 you will understand IPv6, most still use IPv4 anyway.

        so really I think that the life of the technology behind the product is main thing and not the actual product. Who uses windows9x now? Windows NT is still very much alive and will be for a while yet.

        • Scott, I don’t think Ann was referencing Microsoft support, rather Microsoft certification. Of course, many things remain the same between technologies – that is why the certification tests for Windows Server 2008 and 2012 have questions that go back to Windows NT 4 and 2000. In the big scheme of things, GPOs, AD and other aspects of technology are still relevant, long after the products themselves retire.

          I think what Ann is really getting at is that you should know your audience when listing outdated certifications. A contracting firm replete with bleeding edge technologies is probably not going to care that you have a Windows 2000 MCSE, unless you bothered to update it to 2012. Contrast that with an enterprise warehouse that includes some Linux and Windows XP clients running a Windows 2000 AD forest. Always know your audience before you apply and definitely before you interview!

  4. I am new to Windows Server certifications and I currently hold none. I am thinking of getting certified but I am not sure if I should begin with Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2012. I have a fair amount of experience in 2008. What would you suggest?

  5. Hello, How about studying what is the best book to study for MCSA Windows Server 2012 ?

  6. If you pass one of the MCSA exams do you get an MCP ? ( like you did before)

    • The MCP was replaced with the MCTS (Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist). The MCTS required either one or two tests based on the technology. Microsoft has not posted any MCTS certifications for either SQL 2012, Windows Server 2012, Windows 8 or Private Cloud yet.

      • *evil cackles* George, it gives me great pleasure to tell you this: YOU ARE WRONG, SIR. Well, actually, what you say here is right: the old version of the MCP was replaced with the MCTS. However, Microsoft is recycling the MCP acronym to mean something totally different now, just as they’re recycling the MCSE and MCSA terms. It’s all very confusing, but it’s all laid out here: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/cert-program-membership.aspx#tab1

    • George was right: the MCP was replaced in the mid-2000s by the MCTS. However, *now* Microsoft is using the term MCP to mean any Microsoft Certified Professional. It’s not a job-facing designation; an employer shouldn’t be looking for an MCP. It now simp[ly means anyone who has earned a Microsoft certification. Being an MCP gives you access to certified-only benefits, like the wallet cards and the monthly newsletters. Here’s the full scoop – hope this helps! http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/cert-program-membership.aspx#tab1

  7. […] response to a recent post, blog reader Zappy asked, I am new to Windows Server certifications and I currently hold none. I am […]

  8. Do you know when “Windows 2012” Transcenders Test Exams (70-410, 70-411, 70-412, 70-413 , 70-414) will be available ?

    • Patrick, we’re working on the 70-410 right now, for release in the first quarter of 2013, with 70-411 and 70-412 to follow. I don’t have a release date yet, but they’re all high-priority exams for the team. Hope this helps, and thanks for being a customer!

      • Hi Ann.
        Do you have fresh informations regarding 70-410 transcender tests release date?
        Regards..

        • HI Ann.
          As the first quarter of 2013 is passed, do you know when the transcender test exam 70-410 will be available ? Thanks in advance for your response. Best regards.
          Patrick.

    • 70-410 is released! Thanks for your interest.

      • When will the 70-411 and 70-412 be released?

        • Hello, and thanks for your interest. 70-412 is in development with a projected publish date of early summer. 70-411 is in production with a *projected* publish date of mid-May (it is literally on my desktop as we speak). I am happy to drop you a line at your email address when we release each of these tests.

          • Hi Ann.
            Is 70-411 exam available now ?
            Thanks in advance.

            • Hi Patrick, great timing on your question! The 70-411 practice test was just pushed to production this morning. Give us a couple of days to make it available on our web site…we’ve had several releases over the last couple of days & our Support team is working as quickly as possible to make sure the right products land in your shopping cart :)

  9. […] (Editor’s note: This post belongs to our ongoing series about the new generation of Microsoft certifications. See also Customer asks: Is now the time to study for Windows Server 2008 certification, or Server 2012?, Don’t wait to finish your MCTS or MCITP: Microsoft retiring exam tracks, and Everything old is new again: the MCSE and MCSA are dead (long live the MCSE and MCSA).) […]

  10. Can anyone tell me what is the best book to study for MCSA Windows Server 2012 ? I can’t find anyone saying what book to study is best for the exam. Your input will be appreciated. HELP! – GMan

    • Well, there’s three exams for that certification. Are you looking for a study guide for each individual test (e.g. 70-410), or for the sequence as a whole?

  11. Please tell me which certification is best for Windows 7 – MCSA or MCTS ?? And how many exams i need to give to pass that particular Exam. Also i would like to know the validity of that certification. Kindly guide which is the best book in order to crack the Exam.. Thank you..!!

    • You should start by taking the 70-680 exam, Windows 7: Configuration. Passing that exam immediately earns you the MCTS in Windows 7. The exam is also one of two tests that counts toward a MCSA in Windows 7. After passing the 70-680, you need to pass the 70-686: Windows 7, Enterprise Desktop Administrator exam. After passing the 680 and 686, you will have both the MCTS and the MCSA. If you pass both of these exams before January 31, 2014, you will *also* earn the MCITP in Windows 7, which is the certification being phased out in favor of the MCSA. For more information, check here: http://borntolearn.mslearn.net/btl/b/weblog/archive/2012/09/11/mcsa-windows-7-certification-now-live.aspx#fbid=iRT9Cf3msue

  12. […] response to a recent post, blog reader Raj […]

  13. Hi

    Do you know when the 70-413 transcender exam will be released?
    Thanks

  14. Thanks for rubbishing all the study and work we did in the late 90s and early 2000’s. It was Microsoft who designated MCSE as Engineer, not the people who had top take them to try and get work. If you want to rubbish someone – try Microsoft – that USE Government organisation who want a tow hold in evry home on the planet.

    Regards – a really pissed of ex-MCSE

  15. Thank you! The post cleared some confusion around..

  16. Hi. May i know what is the best upgrade path to the latest MS SQL certification?
    The cert that i have is MCTS.(SQL Server 2008, Implementation and Maintenance)(432). Thank you =)

    • Hello, Chin! Unfortunately, the two upgrade exams from MCTS: SQL Server 2008 to MCSA: SQL Server 2012 have been retired (70-457 and 70-458). You will need to take and pass the three-exam sequence (70-461, 462, and 463) to earn your MCSA: SQL Server. If you’re ready to start practicing now, you can buy a three-exam multipak of Transcender SQL practice tests (https://www.transcender.com/practice-exam/microsoft/mcsa-sql-server-2012.kap), or buy the practice exams individually. Best of luck to you!


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