Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer Salary and Career Facts

Learn about the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) credential, a professional certification designed to replace the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer designation. Explore certification requirements and training options as well as related employment outlook and salary info. Schools offering Computer Systems Administration degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer?

The Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer credential has been retired. IT professionals can now pursue the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) designation.

This current MCSE certification is for professionals who want to demonstrate their ability to configure, administer and troubleshoot computer and network infrastructure running on Microsoft server platforms. There are eight specialty areas available, including server infrastructure, desktop infrastructure, SharePoint, communication, messaging, data platform, business intelligence, and private cloud. In the table below, you can learn some details about several careers you could pursue with a MCSE credential.

Computer Support SpecialistsDatabase AdministratorsNetwork and Computer Systems AdministratorsComputer Systems AnalystsInformation Security Analysts
Degree RequiredAssociate's, Bachelor'sBachelor'sBachelor'sBachelor'sBachelor's
Education Field of StudyComputer ScienceComputer Science, Management Information SystemsComputer Science, Management Information SystemsComputer ScienceInformation Science
Key ResponsibilitiesTest networks, perform maintenance, fix problemsMake sure data is secure, perform data backupsInstall new software and hardware, make sure networks are meeting the needs of an organizationMake sure computer systems are efficient and cost-effectiveInstall firewalls, make sure networks are secure, install data encryption programs
Job Growth (2014-2024)*12%11%8%21%18%
Mean Salary (2015)*$55,980$84,250$82,200$90,180$93,250

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Careers Can I Pursue with an MCSE Certification?

There are a number of careers you can pursue with this certification, including computer support specialists, information security analysts, network and computer systems administrators, database administrators and computer systems analysts.

Computer support specialists test network systems, perform network maintenance and troubleshoot network problems. They may also offer technical support to company employees in person or via phone or email.

Information security analysts maintain the security of a network, installing firewalls and data encryption programs, conducting penetration tests and developing security standards. An important part of their job is to write up reports and make recommendations on ways companies can keep networks safe.

Network and computer systems administrators are responsible for identifying what a company's network needs are and installing the software and hardware necessary to meet those needs. This involves both improving old networks and installing new ones. They also train company employees to use these networks.

Database administrators are in charge of making sure the data stored in databases is secure and that the databases are meeting users' needs. They make backups of data, update user permissions and run tests to ensure databases are running efficiently. At times, they may make modifications to databases, even merging multiple databases together.

Computer systems analysts inspect computer systems and find way to make them more efficient. They conduct extensive research to keep up with current technologies. These analysts often provide cost-benefit analysis for various scenarios and recommendations. After implementing new systems or functionality, they perform tests to make sure these systems work properly and meet company standards.

What Education and Skills Do I Need?

You don't need any formal education to sit for MCSE certification exams. However, Microsoft recommends you have 1-2 years of experience working with its operating systems and servers before attempting to take the tests.

You could gain some foundational knowledge and experience with a 2- or 4-year degree program in computer science, information technology, or management information systems. Completing one of these programs is often the minimum educational requirement for an IT position.

If you already have a job in this field, you might consider one of several colleges offering postsecondary certificate programs or courses covering topics you'll encounter on the MCSE certification exams. For example, you could learn how to manage a Windows server environment, configure network services, and implement user and system security policies. Additional education options include self-paced training videos available through the Microsoft Virtual Academy.

How Do I Earn Certification?

To earn an MSCE credential, you'll need to pass five exams. All certification options require you to pass three core exams on installing and configuring Windows Server 2012 or querying and administering Microsoft SQL Server 2012. The remaining two exams will depend on your certification specialty. You might need to demonstrate your ability to implement advanced server or desktop infrastructure, monitor and deploy a private cloud, configure Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 or SharePoint Server 2013, design databases and business intelligence solutions, or manage enterprise online and voice services.

What Are My Job Prospects?

According to Microsoft, earning MCSE certification can improve your job prospects and help advance your career. Employment outlooks for positions available to IT professionals with this credential are already fairly strong. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected average or faster-than-average job growth through the 2014-2024 decade for database administrators (11%), network and computer systems administrators (8%), computer systems analysts (21%), and information security analysts (18%). Additionally, computer support specialists were expected to see a faster-than-average 12% job growth.

What Kind of Salary Could I Earn?

Earnings for these IT positions can range from an average salary of $55,980 for computer support specialists to an average salary of $93,250 for information security analysts, according to 2015 data from the BLS. Network and computer systems administrators and database administrators earned average salaries of $82,200 and $84,250, respectively, while computer systems analysts earned $90,180 per year, on average.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

With a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field, you could also consider becoming a software developer or computer programmer. Software developers design and assemble computer programs and applications. Applications software developers create software that is used for specific tasks rather than being necessary to the overall operations of a computer, such as word processors or spreadsheets. Systems software developers create the underlying programs and systems that operate computer systems and networks. Computer programmers write the instructional code that computers use to run software. They are also responsible for testing this code to ensure it works properly.

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