How Do I Earn a MCSE Certification?

Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) credentials help IT professionals demonstrate their expertise and experience to prospective or current employers. Keep reading to learn about exam requirements and training recommendations for this certification. Schools offering Computer Support Technician degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Earning MCSE Certification

The Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) certification is for IT professionals who install, administer and troubleshoot computer infrastructure running on Windows Server 2012 or Microsoft SQL Server 2012 platforms. Specializations are available in messaging, communication, SharePoint, private cloud, data platform, business intelligence, desktop infrastructure and server infrastructure.

Important Facts About MCSE Certification

Common Exam Topics Configuring and supporting Windows,
Windows server installation and configuration,
Microsoft SQL Server database development,
Database management
Potential Benefits Higher salaries and career advancement; a few certifications can lead to college credit
Continuing Education Recertification by exam required every three years
Possible Careers Information technology manager, network engineer, systems administrator
Median Salary (2018) $82,050 (for all network and computer systems administrators)
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 6% growth (for all network and computer systems administrators)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Exam Requirements

IT professionals seeking MCSE certification must pass five exams containing between 40 and 60 questions and lasting no more than four hours apiece. A directory of testing centers and exam scheduling services are available through Prometric, the testing service that administers Microsoft's certification exams.

The first three exams can be completed en route to the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) credential. These will focus on the installation and administration of either Microsoft SQL Server 2012 or Windows Server 2012. You must then pass an additional two exams focusing on your specialty area. These could require you to demonstrate your ability to:

  • Design advanced server infrastructure
  • Implement desktop infrastructure and application environments
  • Monitor, configure and deploy a private cloud
  • Develop databases and implement data models
  • Design database and business intelligence solutions
  • Develop messaging solutions
  • Configure enterprise voice and online services

Prerequisites and Training Recommendations

MCSE candidates should have up to two years of related work experience before attempting to take the certification exams. If you're just starting out, you might consider pursuing an associate or bachelor's degree in such fields as information technology, networking or computer information systems. These programs can introduce you to the hardware, software, programming languages and troubleshooting techniques used by IT professionals. In some cases, these degree programs also incorporate MCSE training into their curricula so you'll be ready to sit for certification exams upon graduation.

If you already have some training or work experience, you might consider enrolling in instructor-led classes offered in conjunction with one of Microsoft's learning partners. These can include community colleges, universities and computer training schools that feature certificate programs or individual courses. Microsoft also offers short training videos through its Virtual Academy, and certification candidates can check the skills measured by each exam on Microsoft's website to see if they're proficient in the areas tested.

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