Having now covered the MCSE and MCSD certifications, let’s take a look at the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA). Prerequisite to the MCSE expert level certifications, the MCSA has been reinvented to replace the Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator certification.
Unlike the previous Microsoft Certified System Administrator cert which focused on a specific job role, the new Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate credential focuses on the holders ability to design and build technology solutions. Holders of the legacy MCSA need not worry about the validity of their certification, Microsoft have publicly announced that the cert will not expire and continues to demonstrate a users ability to manage the Windows Server 2000 and 2003 operating systems.
On to the new
In total, there are seven MCSA certifications each focusing on the Office Suite, relational database management, server and desktop operation systems. Lets take a closer look:
Windows Server Tracks
MCSA: Windows Server 2008 - this certification validates your ability to work with the operating system at professional level and is perfect for those looking to reinforce their existing experience. The certification is a gateway to the MCSE: Private Cloud only, holders would need to upgrade to the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 certification before widening their horizons with additional MCSE certifications.
MCSA: Windows Server 2012 - qualifying you to work as a network or computer systems administrator or a computer network specialist, this certification shows your ability to operate across multiple solution areas within business. Focused on the primary skills of Windows Server 2012, the certification is a gateway to the MCSE: Desktop Infrastructure, MCSE: Messaging, MCSE: Private Cloud, MCSE: Server Infrastructure, MCSE: Communication, and MCSE: SharePoint certifications.
It’s also possible to upgrade to this cert from the legacy MCITP certifications.
Windows Desktop Tracks
MCSA : Windows 7 - thinking about becoming a desktop support technician? This cert shows you have the skills to configure and support a Windows 7 enterprise system.
MCSA : Windows 8 - attaining this certification will qualify you for a position as a computer support specialist, like the above, the certification demonstrates your ability to configure and support a Windows 8 enterprise system. It may be worth delaying your cert, Windows 8.1 has arrived and updates to the official curriculum are expected soon.
SQL Server Tracks
MCSA: SQL server 2008 – prove you have skills to implement and maintain SQL server 2008, as well as BI development and maintenance. This cert leads on to the MCSE: Data Platform or MCSE: Business Intelligence certifications. Attaining this certification prepares you for a career as a database analyst or developer.
Microsoft SQL Server 2012 - much like the Windows 8 track, there is an upgrade round the corner with SQL Server 2014. In the meantime, this cert proves you have the skills to query and administer databases in SQL server 2012, whilst as implementing a data warehouse. This cert is also a gateway to the MCSE: Data Platform or MCSE: Business Intelligence certs.
Office 365 Track
MCSA: Office 365 - want to take advantage of a host of opportunities as a software as a service (SaaS) administrator or cloud applications administrator. This cert proves you can hold these positions with a focus on managing Office 365 products such as SharePoint and Lync. As we are heading to a cloud dominated environment, this cert if a gateway to a long lasting career.
Those looking to start honing their skills to achieve and MCSA should be heading over to the Microsoft Virtual Academy right now. Get the latest info, delivered by Microsoft professionals on all the aforementioned technologies. Alternatively, head over to the learn platform and access supplementary material for the MCSA tracks to get a taster of the information.
Those considering the training route can check out Firebrand Training. We offer all MCSA certification tracks.
About the Author
By Edward Jones
Edward works for Firebrand Training as a Technical Writer within the Marketing department. He spends his days thinking up topics for surveys, engaging articles and concepts for informative infographics.