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Microsoft once again offers electives in MCSA exams

Admins may experience nostalgia with the latest round of MCSA certs because of previous MCSA certs and the comeback of electives.

When I saw a recent blog post over at Born to Learn, I couldn't help but experience a bit of déjà vu. Dated Sept....

15, 2014, its title reads, "Electives for Windows Server 2012 & SQL Server 2012 MCSA Certifications Now Available."

I got the sense I saw it before because of something older readers may already know, but relative newcomers to the wonderful -- and sometimes wacky -- world of Microsoft certifications may not. The current version of MCSA exams, Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate, is not the first or only MCSA Microsoft has unleashed on the IT community -- remember, Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator?

My recollection is that the original MCSA, which ran from 1999 or 2000 (depending on whether you count the beta period for its initial exams) until 2008 or 2009 (depending on which exam's retirements you care about most) also included electives. And despite some trouble hitting pages whose servers were available on the Internet Wayback Machine, I confirmed the MCSA exams for Windows 2000 offered no fewer than 11 Microsoft exams as electives. The MCSA also accepted CompTIA Security+ or CompTIA A+ and Server+ as electives; see the aforementioned Wayback page for a full list of its electives.

I hope I can be forgiven for a touch of nostalgia as I explain how Microsoft is changing requirements for two of its MCSA "flavors" -- namely, the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 and the MCSA: SQL Server 2012. Given that there are a total of seven such flavors on the current MCSA home page, it's not exactly a clean sweep, but it does make a nice start on opening the MCSA curriculum just a bit for interested and aspiring IT professionals.

Table 1 summarizes the changes to the Windows Server 2012 MCSA, and Table 2 does likewise for the SQL Server 2012 MCSA. For convenience, I also link to the cited exam pages. In both cases, three exams are required to earn the credential -- two required exams plus one elective.

Table 1: MCSA: Windows Server 2012 Exams, Including Electives

Required Exams

(Take Both)

70-410

Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012

70-411

Administering Windows Server 2012

Elective Exams

(Take Any One)

70-346

Managing Office 365 Identities and Requirements

74-409

Server Virtualization with Windows Server Hyper-V and System Center

70-412

Configuring Advanced Server 2012 Services (one of prior "required three")

70-462

Administering SQL Server 2012 Databases

Table 2: MCSA: SQL Server 2012 Exams, Including Electives

Required Exams

(Take Both)

70-461

Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012

70-462

Administering SQL Server 2012 Databases

Elective Exams

(Take Any One)

70-411

Administering Windows Server 2012

70-463

Implementing a Data Warehouse with Microsoft SQL Server 2012

70-412

Configuring Advanced Server 2012 Services (one of prior "required three")

70-483

Programming in C#

I'm glad to see that skills in virtualization, productivity software (e.g. Office 365) and yes, even SQL Server DB administration, will count toward basic competency in Windows Server 2012 MCSA exams going forward. I still don't think the new and current three-exam MCSA has quite as much heft or cachet as the older "5 or more" exam MCSA did. But the newest incarnation of the MCSA gains some added flexibility and broader coverage as a consequence of this change. Hopefully, that also means more IT pros will find the new MCSA worth chasing. This is likely the reason why Microsoft made this change -- in hopes that this supposition will turn into fact.

About the author: 
Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year veteran of the IT biz who's been writing for TechTarget since the late 1990s. He currently blogs for Windows Enterprise Desktop at the IT Knowledge Exchange, and writes for numerous other TechTarget sites, and blogs on IT certification for PearsonITCertification.com, Tom's IT Pro and GoCertify.com. Ed has also contributed to many computing books, and is perhaps best-known for creating the Exam Cram series of IT cert prep books back in the heyday of Windows NT.

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This was last published in September 2014

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