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What do I need to know about the MCSE certification exams?

The server infrastructure MCSE certification tests an IT pro's expertise in storage, networking and other key areas.

Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert is the quintessential system administrator certification for IT professionals...

specializing in server or desktop infrastructures.

Achieving an MCSE in server infrastructure involves taking and passing a series of five exams. The first three MCSE certification exams include Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012 (410), Administering Windows Server 2012 (411), Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services (412). When these first three exams are completed, the recipient successfully qualifies for a Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate certification in Windows Server 2012. Two additional exams are needed for a full MCSE including Designing and Implementing a Server Infrastructure (413) and Implementing an Advanced Server Infrastructure (414). The desktop infrastructure track requires two different additional exams.

MCSE certification can be a costly and time-consuming endeavor. The five principal exam components involved in the MCSE server infrastructure track each cost $150 -- a total of $750.

The Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services (412) exam can be replaced with alternate exams including Managing Office 365 Identities and Requirements (346), Server Virtualization with Windows Server Hyper-V and System Center (409) or Administering Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Databases (462). This allows IT professionals a bit of latitude in tailoring the MCSE certification to best fit particular job requirements. Microsoft updated its certificate exams to reflect Windows Server 2012 R2 content in 2014.

MCSE certification can be a costly and time-consuming endeavor. The five principal exam components involved in the MCSE server infrastructure track each cost $150 -- a total of $750. Each exam can typically be taken through commercial testing outlets such as Pearson VUE using adaptive, computer-based examinations involving varied question types -- such as build lists, case studies, drag and drop, and multiple choice. Each test requires an investment of time and effort for proper study and preparation including practical hands-on experience with the skill areas that the MCSE certification exams measure -- book study and practice exams are not enough to pass MCSE exams.

Once a candidate has successfully completed the MCSE certification requirements and earned an MCSE, the IT professional will require recertification every three years. Recertification normally involves the successful completion of a single MCSE recertification exam which can also reflect changes or updates to the operating system and its components.

Next Steps

Microsoft certifications for Windows Server admins

Update your MCSA certification to Windows Server 2012

Make the most of Windows certification information

This was last published in February 2016

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