What Is a Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA)?

Research what it takes to receive MCSA certification. Learn about education requirements, job duties, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Computer Systems Administration degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA)?

The former Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator certification has been retired, and Microsoft now offers a new MCSA credential: the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate. This credential could be for you if you currently work or aspire to work in the information technology field. MCSA certification comes with a number of specializations, allowing students to focus on areas of professional or personal interest. Concentrations for the MCSA include Windows 10, Office 365, and SQL Server 2008 or 2012/2014.

A couple careers you could pursue with MCSA certification include database administrators and computer network architects. Database administrators' main duty is to make sure data on servers are secure and databases operate as they should. This involves making backups of data, testing databases, making modifications and updating user permissions. Sometimes they may be tasked with creating new databases or merging existing ones.

Computer network architects create local area networks and wide area networks. This involves researching network technology, drawing out layouts of networks and presenting those plans to managers with the intent to convince them of their effectiveness. When creating networks these professionals need to keep in mind information security, upcoming network technology and the needs of the company.

Take a look at the following chart for an overview of how to enter this field.

Database Administrator Computer Network Architect
Degree Required Bachelor's Bachelor's
Key Skills Problem solving, attention to detail Interpersonal communication, organization
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 11% 9%
Median Salary (2015)* $81,710 $100,240

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

How Can I Prepare for Certification?

The MCSA doesn't require substantial professional experience for applicants, although Microsoft does recommend experience and familiarity with the software applications. Upon receiving this certification, students will also fulfill one of the prerequisites for expert-level MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert) certification

Community colleges, technical schools and continuing education departments of universities may offer programs that help prepare you for MCSA certification. These programs cover the material that the MCSA exam covers. You'll learn the installation and configuration procedures for your specialization. These prep programs themselves don't award the MCSA certification; they're just meant to prepare you for the exam.

How Do I Obtain Certification?

In order to acquire your certification, you'll need to complete the examinations relevant to your specialization. Each specialization features unique exams related to the programs and applications that you'll be using on a constant basis. Possible topics for these exams include administering Windows Server 2012, configuring Windows devices, and enabling services.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Computer and information systems managers are put in charge of a companies' IT and computer related activities. They use their knowledge of a companies' IT needs to set goals and then start projects to meet those goals. These professionals may start a career with a bachelor's degree in a computer science or IT-related field. Computer programmers are hired to write the code computers use to run programs and applications. They usually have a bachelor's degree in computer science, though some get by with an associate's degree.

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

  • 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
  • University of Northwestern Ohio

    Campus Locations:

    • Ohio: Lima
  • Southwestern College

    Campus Locations:

    • California: Chula Vista
  • University of Alaska Southeast

    Campus Locations:

    • Alaska: Juneau