How Do I Earn a Microsoft Networking Certification?

In most cases, you need to complete an exam or series of exams to earn a Microsoft certification. Exam prep programs are available through private companies and some colleges and universities. To learn more about earning Microsoft certification, particularly those credentials related to networking, keep reading.

Steps for Earning Microsoft Networking Certification

In general, Microsoft certifications can be earned by passing an exam or multiple exams you'll schedule with testing providers Certiport or Prometric. You can schedule an exam in your area via Microsoft's website. Before scheduling and successfully passing an exam, you'll need to choose a relevant credential and either obtain the necessary IT experience or take a preparatory course.

Important Facts About a Microsoft Networking Certification

Online Course AvailabilityNone, all official Microsoft courses are instructor-led in a classroom setting
ConcentrationsIT infrastructure, data platform administration, business intelligence, software development
PrerequisitesPrior experience with Windows Server operating system, basic knowledge of server hardware, understanding of networking fundamentals and basic Active Directory Domain Services concepts, awareness of security best practices, knowledge and skills with Microsoft Hyper-V, and experience working with and configuring Windows client operating systems
Possible CareersNetwork administrator, computer systems administrator, computer network specialist
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

Choose Your Credential

The Microsoft certification path is divided hierarchically, with entry-level credentials leading to more advanced designations as follows:

  • Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA)
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert or Microsoft Certification Solutions Developer (MCSE or MCSD)

Each level is progressively more demanding and contains more than one certification option. The Technology Associate level, for example, contains three separate tracks: IT infrastructure, database and development.

Relevant Networking Certifications

A few Microsoft certifications are designed specifically for aspiring network administrators. You can earn an MTA-IT Infrastructure credential by passing Microsoft's Networking Fundamentals credentialing exam. Similarly, the MCSE: Messaging and MCSA: Windows Server certifications are designed for aspiring network administrators. You'll need to pass three exam to earn the MCSA credential; successfully completing two additional exams leads to the MCSE certification.

Obtain Experience

Hands-on experience with the Microsoft product line is very valuable. In order to pass an introductory certification exam, like those at the MTA level, a matter of months might be sufficient. For those at the MCSA or MCSE levels, a year or more might be realistic.

Acquire Training

Microsoft has a large number of learning partners that offer authorized training programs. The training may be available within 2-year or 4-year college programs and through private technical training organizations. Books and videos are, of course, available. However, they should be considered supplementary and not a replacement for intensive instruction.

Take the Examinations

Microsoft exams may include involved technical scenarios and time limits. Preparation for the test is recommended. The exam guide, test demos, and samples that Microsoft makes available should be studied. It might also be a good idea to consult colleagues who have already taken the test. Dates and locations for the tests, as well as training providers, may be found on the Microsoft website,