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Banner year for MCSA certifications?

Ever since the Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator, or MCSA, credential was announced in the fall of 2001, the program has been creating quite a stir in the MCP community. Now that we've got some history -- the program went live a little over a year ago -- the numbers and growth trends strongly validate what many experts initially thought: that this program would be a big hit and would attract a significant number of certified professionals.

First some numbers, then some analysis.

Within five weeks of its release, over 5,000 individuals had become MCSAs. Within five months of its debut, over 22,000 individuals obtained this credential. By the end of 2002, over 47,000 individuals

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attained MCSA status. According to Microsoft, this makes MCSA its fastest-growing certification. In just under a year (Exactly 49 weeks after the program went live last Jan. 22.), more than 4,000 individuals per month had earned their MCSAs.

Public response to the MCSA remains extremely strong. In fact, experts who projected that MCSA numbers would surpass MCSE numbers by the end of 2003 were fairly close to the mark. At the end of last year, there were 46,826 MCSAs, compared to 91,453 MCSEs Link to www.mcpmag.com. It's entirely possible that by the end of this year, there could be more MCSAs than MCSEs. If the current 2.5 to one ratio continues (4,000 MCSEs monthly versus 1,600 MCSEs), then a more realistic "pass date" -- when the number of MCSAs exceeds that for MCSEs -- might occur sometime in mid-2004.

Overall, the MCSA growth phenomenon is reasonably easy to explain:

  • At four exams rather than seven, individuals pursuing Windows 2000 certification can find a natural stopping or resting point with the MCSA. It makes achieving certification faster and cheaper as well.
  • Because all four exams for the MCSA (except for those who use CompTIA exams in lieu of a Microsoft elective) also apply to the MCSE, individuals can easily continue on to the MCSE after finishing the MCSA.

What will be interesting to watch is how many people who now hold Windows 2000 MCSAs finish their MCSEs -- and if the growth curve for the MCSA will translate into higher growth numbers for the MCSE. On the one hand, with new MCSE and MCSA requirements for Windows Server 2003 expected by mid-year, there will be a rush for individuals to finish Windows 2000 credentials. At the same time, Microsoft partners, developers, and early adopters will be rushing into new programs during the second half of this year and in 2004. This should make for busy and interesting times.


Ed Tittel runs a content development company in Austin, Texas, and is the series editor of the Que Exam Cram 2 and Training Guide series. He's worked on many books on Microsoft, CompTIA, CIW, Sun/Java, and security certifications.


 

This was first published in February 2003

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