Looking to earn the MCSE certification, but confused... RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hello.  I am confused as well.  I am on the sales side of IT, and I got the equivalent of the sales certifications for Microsoft, EMC, VMWare, Cisco, etc.  I have no experience on the IT side, or any practical application in even an entry-level IT job.  I have the knowledge equivalent to the A+ certification.  I am looking to enter into the IT world, and I want to earn the MCSE certification and eventually the CCNA certification.  I was told by a couple peers of mine that having those two certifications will get my "foot in the door" in an IT department.

    When I looked into the MCSE certification, I have seen that Microsoft has changed their exams and certification requirements.  After purchasing a study guide for the MCSE Windows 2003 Server element, I found this will expire as of July 31st, 2012.  I called Microsoft Learning directly, and I was told I have to start out by passing the MCSA exams (70-410, 70-411, and 70-412) first.  Then for the MCSE certification, I will have to two more exams (70-246 and 70-247).

    Can I please get some clarification and some direction?  Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Tuesday, July 24, 2012 11:21 PM


All replies

  • What you have been advised is correct.  You need to do MCSA (70-410, 70-411, and 70-412) first and then the new MCSE (70-246 and 70-247).  I say new MCSE as Microsoft re-released this acronym and it means something different than the MCSE acronym associated with Windows Server 2003.

    More information about MCSA can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/mcsa.aspx

    More information about MCSE can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/mcse.aspx

    When you see answers and helpful posts, please click Vote As Helpful, Propose As Answer, and/or Mark As Answer

    Jeff Wharton
    MSysDev (C.Sturt), MDbDsgnMgt (C.Sturt), MCT, MCPD, MCSD, MCITP, MCDBA
    Blog: Mr. Wharty's Ramblings
    Twitter: @Mr_Wharty
    MC ID: Microsoft Transcript

    Tuesday, July 24, 2012 11:38 PM
  • In addition to the MCSE Private Cloud exams (70-246 and 70-247), Microsoft has also announced the MCSE Server Infrastructure (70-413 and 70-414), and the MCSE Desktop Infrastructure (70-415 and 70-416) certifications. Though little information of these certifications are published yet. So for the Windows platform there will be 3 flavors of MCSE to choose from, depending on job role. MCSE Data Platform and MCSE Business Intelligence are two other flavors for the SQL Server platform.

    What do you want to achieve with certification? The MCSE certification is however designed for skilled professionals with many years of relevant experience. It has little value to first pass all the exams and then apply to an entry-level IT job. I don't want to discourage you, but how do you hope to add value to your employers and/or customers in the near future?

    What do you want to do by entering into the IT world? There are currently 5 different flavor's of MCSE at the moment. And I expect even more to be announced in the year to come. Also there is more than only Microsoft in the IT world. (So I have heard.) I think it is best to first find out what you want to do in IT. Don't be surprised if this will take a few years. When you have discovered your niche, develop it. Specialize in it. Be the best in it as far as you can. But don't focus on one product or technology entirely.

    How much experience do you have in Sales? If you just have been working a few years in sales and have decided that this isn't for you, that fine. You can start over and try something new. If you have a lot of experience in Sales, I suppose you know your customers well. If you want to move the technical side of IT, you don't want to start in a entry level position. You are probable more better of developing your career more gradiently. Combine your knowledge of what the customer needs with the know how of your technical colleagues. Over time you can evolve more to a consultant position, or something else you hadn't thought of before. The important thing is to add value to your customers and to keep developing yourself.

    Don't get me wrong. In my experience certifications and exams are a great tool for learning because it helps you to select study subjects to choose for and measures achievement. However, you do need real work experience to pass the exams. As I have said the certifications are designed for people with experience and the exams are getting harder to pass every year. Also IT is getting more complex every year, so this makes sense.

    • Edited by Arjen Krap Thursday, July 26, 2012 5:59 AM Fixed typo
    Thursday, July 26, 2012 5:58 AM
  • Thank you, Jeff!  This helps. 
    Thursday, July 26, 2012 11:48 AM
  • Arjen,

    Thank you for your answer and for your guidance.  To answer your initial question, I am looking to find an entry-level position within an IT department of a company.  My long-term goal is to become a Systems/Network Administrator.  I want to leave the sales side, and get into the IT side.  I was told by a few of my colleagues that I should get the MCSE and the CCNA certifications in order to be the most marketable.  But, I realize that may be hard considering I have no practical experience in an IT environment.  I just sell primarily to CIOs, CTOs and IT Directors and I can speak the dialogue to uncover their pain points and opportunities.  If anything gets too technical, then I have a sales engineer who can talk about all the fine technical details.

    What you say makes a lot of sense, so I don't want to blindly pursue certifications which will give me "status" but won't get me into a job without any practical experience.  I'd rather start with the A+ and Network+ certifications so I can get an entry-level job, and then grow into the fields of network security and the cloud and eventually become an expert in both of those areas.  I'll pursue certifications in those two areas of IT and go from there.  At least that's the plan for now.

    My experience in sales in the IT and Telecommunications world is a total of 5 years.  I have the ability and the talent to discuss the prospect's IT infrastructure, server environment, network infrastructure, applications on the network and what their pain points are and discover an IT Director's needs from that point on.  But, when it comes to actually talking about the technical details, then I need a sales engineer to talk about that.

    Let me know if the A+ and Network+ are good starting points to get into an entry-level IT job, or if I will need other certifications to enhance my chances.  I'm thinking I would have to start in a desktop/tech support role, then grow into a network administrator role and go from there.

    Thursday, July 26, 2012 12:08 PM
  • Thank you for your compliments. I hope that not only you, but also other people who are looking for the same type of guidance can benefit from this too. I cannot answer your question about which specific certifications or other credentials you need to get hired for the jobs you are looking for. I do can give you some advice on how to develop some technical skills.

    Many people who enter the IT field start to study the client operating system first before move up to the server operating system and applications. This is a obvious choice since entry positions typically are about supporting end users using their desktop or laptop computer. In fact my first Microsoft exam in 2002 was 70-210 "Installing, Configuring, and Administering Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional".  At the moment the equivalent exam is 70-680 "TS: Windows 7, Configuring", which I happen to pass last year.

    The client operating operating is by most people considered a relatively easy exam. This is not necessary because the questions in this exam are easier than, for example, the questions of a SQL Server exam, but because more people use Windows 7 every day than they use SQL Server. (Also it's implied that if you use SQL Server you also use Windows, but you get the idea.) I would suggest you go practice the subjects of the Windows 7 exam to develop your skills.

    I deliberately use the word practice instead of study. Study implies to cram for an exam. A common misconception is that if you only follow a course, read a book, do a few labs, and/or do a lot of practice tests you are ready for the exam. (If you have noticed, a lot questions on this section of the forum are about this misunderstanding.) Apart from studying, you will also have to practice a lot. By practicing you are not only mastering the subject, but you also are training your troubleshooting skills. Expect to spend a lot of time practicing. Because believe me, a lot of things won't work the first time you try it. But that's actually a good thing. You can learn much more from breaking and fixing it again, than setting it up perfectly without a clue how its working. Better find out at home on your own, than at work where everybody is looking with you over your shoulder. I guess one advantage of IT over sales is that you can practice on your own, and try over again and again. Expect to put a lot of time in it. Don't be surprised to like it bit, though.

    To give you an idea about what's the I like to divide the 70-680 exam objectives in three groups: installation, troubleshooting, and configuring enterprise features. Installation interests me the most.

    Installing Windows 7 can be done manually with the default settings but also automatically using customized images which are preloaded with applications and preconfigured with the settings the organization requires. For all but the smallest organizations this is a must for a successful deployment. You can't go wrong getting some experience in this. However, as organizations grow the number of applications grow and the requirements increase. In large enterprises deployments using customized images are becoming more and more complex. This is unlikely to be done by something one in an entry level position. No surprise one of the new MCSE certifications is for Desktop Infrastructure. In these organizations you would only deploy images made by someone else to new computers if you are just getting started. In midsize and smaller businesses you are more like to be asked to create images. You can even show your expertise by suggesting a money solution like this if they are still deploying manually.

    I suggest you look at the 70-680 exam objectives(1) for information. I would recommend the "MCTS Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-680): Configuring Microsoft® Windows 7"(2)(3) for study and getting up to speed for practice. Also remember that there is a lot of useful information on the internet including Technet articles, blogs, webcasts, and video's from conferences. I wouldn't consider taking courses unless an employer is willing to pay for it. A $50 book offers way more value for money than a $3000 course. Not necessary meaning all courses a wast of money. Either way you will need to invest a lot of your own time in practicing.

    1. 70-680 exam objectives: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/exam.aspx?id=70-680#tab2

    2. "MCTS Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-680): Configuring Microsoft® Windows 7": http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/book.aspx?id=13911

    3. You can check out a sample of this book at the Amazon web site: http://www.amazon.com/MCTS-Self-Paced-Training-Exam-70-680/dp/0735627088

    Friday, July 27, 2012 9:43 PM