In-Depth

MCSA

Microsoft's certification for network and systems administrators.

Microsoft says that the introduction of the Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator title was developed as a result of job skill surveys it conducted in 2001, indicating that many network administrators or systems administrators focus daily on server and client maintenance and administration tasks and may never face network design and infrastructure scalability issues in their work. Since its inception, the MCSA has been versioned into the following titles:

  • MCSA on Windows 2000, with MCSA: Security and MCSA: Messaging specializations as a subgroup of this version.
  • MCSA on Windows 2003, with MCSA: Security and MCSA: Messaging specializations as a subgroup of version.

The Work
An MCSA certification indicates proven skills in performing network administrative and maintenance tasks on a Windows network. Some MCSAs may be familiar with network design, but it's not a required skill. (MCSAs who eventually want to prove expertise in network infrastructure and design should look at obtaining the MCSE).

The Benefits
You'll receive several benefits by virtue of becoming an MCSA:

  • Industry recognition of your expertise.
  • The right to use the MCP logo on business collateral.
  • A certificate, transcript, wallet card, and lapel pin to identify you as an MCP to colleagues and clients. (The first 5,000 charter MCSAs will receive certificates and wallet cards that distinguish early adoption of this new certification.)
  • Access to technical and product information direct from Microsoft through a private MCP Web site.
  • Discounts on products and services (such as Microsoft Developer Network).
  • Invitations to Microsoft and MCP TechMentor conferences, technical training sessions, and special events.
  • Access to all back issue content available on MCPmag.com for a greatly reduced fee as well as the opportunity to join the MCP peer-to-peer database.

The Tests
Table 1 shows how exams fit under each version of the MCSA credential:

Table 1. MCSA tracks, plus the upgrade track. (See table 2 for specializations.)
MCSA on Windows 2000 MCSA on Windows 2003 Upgrade: MCSA: W2K to Windows 2003
Core Exams: Client Operating System
(pass 1)
Upgrade Exam (pass 1)
70–210: Installing, Configuring, Administering Windows 2000 Professional 70-292: Managing, Maintaining a Windows Server 2003 Environment for an MCSA on Windows 2000
70–270: Installing, Configuring, Administering Windows XP Professional
Core Exams: Networking System
(pass 2)
No other exams are required.
70–215: Installing, Configuring, Administering Windows 2000 Server 70–290: Managing, Maintaining Windows Server 2003
70–218: Managing Windows 2000 70–291: Implementing, Managing, Maintaining Windows Server 2003
Electives (pass 1)

Holders of any of the following certifications:

  • CompTIA Security+
  • CompTIA A+ and Network+
  • CompTIA A+ and CompServer+

can bypass the elective requirement; others must pass the following electives:

Holders of any of the following certifications:

  • MCSE on NT 4.0
  • MCSA on Windows 2000
  • MCSE on Windows 2000
  • CompTIA Security+
  • CompTIA A+ and Network+
  • CompTIA A+ and CompServer+

can bypass the elective requirement; others must pass the following electives:

70–028: Administering SQL Server 7.0
70–081: Implementing, Supporting Exchange Server 5.5
70–086: Implementing, Supporting Systems Management Server 2.
70–088: Implementing, Supporting Proxy Server 2.0  
Exam 70–214: Implementing, Administering Windows 2000 Security
70–216: Implementing, Administering Windows 2000
70–224: Installing, Configuring, Administering Exchange 2000 Server
70–227: Installing, Configuring, Administering Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server 2000, Enterprise
70–228: Installing, Configuring, Administering SQL Server 2000 Enterprise
70–244: Supporting, Maintaining Windows NT Server 4.0 70-284: Implementing, Managing Exchange Server 2003
  70-299: Implementing, Administering Windows Server 2003 Security

70-240 Exception
Some MCSA on Windows 2000 candidates may have taken Exam 70-240, the Windows 2000 Accelerated exam, when it was available (the exam was retired at the end of 2001). For those who passed it only need to pass Exam 70-218 to obtain that credential. Doing so also allows those who obtained the MCSA on Windows 2000 to bypass the elective requirement for the MCSA on Windows 2003.

The Specialization Tie-In
The history of specialist titles is somewhat murky, but the germination and development of the titles can be traced to an interview conducted by CertCities.com Editor Becky Nagel with Microsoft program managers, who revealed plans for creating vertical slices of the main titles. (See "Microsoft Considering Desktop, Security Certs" in the News Archive.) The first specialization, MCSA: Security on Windows 2000, was officially introduced in June 2003; that was followed by MCSA: Messaging in September. Versions for Windows 2003 also piggybacked those announcements.

Microsoft says it introduced the specializations based on MCP feedback and a job task analysis conducted in 2002 that indicated that MCPs were interested in further defining expertise via credentials. (See "Certifying Your Security Expertise" in the News archive for details.) Table 2 shows the exam requirements for each version of the title.

Table 2. Security and Messaging specializations for versions of the MCSA titles.
MCSA: Security (W2K) MCSA: Security (W2003) MCSA: Messaging (W2K) MCSA: Messaging (Win2003)
Core: Client Operating System (pass 1)
(same as MCSA on Windows 2000 in table 1)
Core: Networking System (pass 2)
(same as MCSA on Windows 2000 in table 1)
Core Security (pass 2)
Core Messaging (pass 1)
70-214: Implementing, Administering Windows 2000 Security 70-299: Implementing, Administering Windows Server 2003 Security 70-224: Installing, Configuring, Administering Exchange 2000 Server  
70-227: Installing, Configuring, Administering Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server 2000, Enterprise

or

SY0-101: CompTIA Security+

70-284: Implementing, Managing Exchange Server 2003

Retirement of Exams
While exams may retire, as of Oct. 10, 2001, Microsoft no longer "retires" certifications (click here for details). However, Microsoft now has versions of the certification. Even so, once you've obtained the MCSA title, you own it and can officially use the logo on business cards and forms of your resume or curriculum vitae. See the MCP Secure Web site for logo guidelines and other information.

About the Author

Michael Domingo has held several positions at 1105 Media, and is currently the editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine.

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