How Do You Become a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE)?

The Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer credential has been retired and replaced with the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert designation, a certification that endorses your ability to administer and configure computer infrastructure running on Microsoft servers. Keep reading to learn more about the requirements for this credential. Schools offering Computer Systems Administration degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

How to Become an MCSE

While the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer designation is still accepted as a legacy certification, IT professionals earning the new MCSE credential will become Microsoft Certified Solutions Experts. Testing and experience requirements for becoming an MCSE are profiled below.

Important Facts About MCSE Certification

Recertification Must renew once every three years by passing a recertification exam
Online Availability Online proctored exams are available through Microsoft
Exam Types Formats vary, including multiple choice, short answer, best answer, case studies, active screen, drag and drop, hot area, mark review etc.
Work Environment Most MCSEs work for computer companies, consulting firms, business and financial companies
Median Salary (2018)$82,050 (Network and Computer Systems Administrators) // $53,470 (Computer Support Specialists)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)6% (Network and Computer Systems Administrators) // 11% (Computer Support Specialists)

Sources:, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Get Work Experience

In addition to completing a degree, Microsoft recommends acquiring up to two years of experience working with its server hardware and software before attempting to pass MCSE certification exams. Successful certification candidates have the experience and know-how to work as computer support specialists, information security analysts, data managers, network administrators and database administrators, to name a few. Relevant careers may require a 2-4 year degree in information technology, management information systems, networking, computer science or a related field.

Once you've completed a training program or landed a job, you might seek MCSE certification as a means to advance your career or get a leg up over the competition when applying for a new position.

Pass Certification Exams

To become an MCSE, you must demonstrate your ability to design, install, administer and troubleshoot desktop and networking infrastructure based on Microsoft server platforms. Certification requires passing scores on five exams consisting of around 50 questions each. Specializations are available in server infrastructure, desktop infrastructure, data platform, business intelligence, private cloud, SharePoint, messaging and communication.

Core Exams

Depending on the specialty area you pursue, the first three exams will focus on either Windows Server 2012 or Microsoft SQL Server 2012. If you choose a track that includes core exams on installing, configuring and administrating Windows Server 2012, you'll need to establish your ability to create user accounts, manage system security, monitor server performance and maximize storage space, among other tasks.

Specialty areas with core exams covering the administration of Microsoft SQL Server 2012 could see you demonstrate your skill at installing and maintaining a database. You could also be tested on your ability to create a data warehouse, manage user permissions and configure data collection.

Specialty Certification Exams

Candidates for MCSE certification must take two more exams in addition to the three core certification exams. After demonstrating your expertise with Windows Server 2012 or Microsoft SQL Server 2012, you could be tested on your ability to deploy Windows 8 applications, manage a private cloud, or design and implement data models and business intelligence solutions to help an organization mine its data.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Colorado State University Global

    Colorado State University Global responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Colorado State University Global:

    • Certificates

    Online Programs Available

  • Herzing University

    Herzing University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Herzing University:

    • Certificates

    Online Programs Available

  • Branford Hall Career Institute

    Campus Locations:

    • Massachusetts: Springfield
  • Wiregrass Georgia Technical College

    Campus Locations:

    • Georgia: Valdosta
  • Westmoreland County Community College

    Campus Locations:

    • Pennsylvania: Youngwood
  • West Shore Community College

    Campus Locations:

    • Michigan: Scottville
  • West Georgia Technical College

    Campus Locations:

    • Georgia: Waco
  • Ventura Adult and Continuing Education

    Campus Locations:

    • California: Ventura
  • Southwestern College

    Campus Locations:

    • California: Chula Vista
  • University of Northwestern Ohio

    Campus Locations:

    • Ohio: Lima