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Admins contend with new skills, certs for Windows Server 2003

In this follow-up article, Ed Tittel answers members' questions from his recent webcast, "What's new in Windows certifications in 2003."

For most admins, the release of the new Windows Server 2003 means contending with a new skill set and a new slate of exams. But admins making the leap from Windows NT 4.0 will have an even bigger challenge, according to Lutz Ziob, Microsoft's general manager of training and certification.

Ed Tittel

"For SAs and SEs who have not brushed up their skills and are still at the NT 4.0 level, realistically there is still a ton to learn," Ziob told in a recent interview. "The industry has moved on in terms of server capabilities, directory services, hosting and Web services."

The implications of these technology changes and their impact on Windows Server 2003 certification are the subject of a recent webcast by Expert Ed Tittel explains what's new in Windows certifications in 2003, including differences between the Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA) and Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) designations for Windows 2000, the Windows 2003 upgrade and other new certification requirements. In this follow-up article, Ed answers questions that were asked during the webcast. member: Are MS certifications recognized at the same level in Canada and the U.S.? Do they have the same importance in both countries?

Tittel: All MS certifications are supposed to be the same the world over. That said, it's not easy to say whether the MS certs enjoy the same level of recognition and importance worldwide as they do in North America. But between Canada and the U.S., with the relatively free exchanges of talent and information along that very long border, I'd have to say things are nearly the same between the two countries where MS certs are concerned, using just about any criteria you could think of. member: If I am a Win2k MCSE, and I want to go for the MCDBA (Microsoft Certified Database Administrator), do I only need to pass the other two exams -- 228 and 229?

Tittel: Yes, that's correct. For any MS certification, as long as you can meet its requirements in a way that doesn't count the same exam twice for any single certification, it's perfectly OK to count one exam for multiple certifications (as long as it only counts once). member: How does the 70-240 exam apply to the 2003 upgrade?

Tittel: It doesn't. The only way individuals can qualify for the 2003 upgrade exams (70-292 or 70-296) is to be Win2k MCSAs or Win2k MCSEs). Win2k MCSAs must take 70-292 to upgrade; Win2k MCSEs must take 70-292 and 70-296 to upgrade. member: Is it a good idea to take the 70-228 and 70-229 as my electives for my MCSE?

Tittel: Hmmm. I can interpret this question in multiple ways. There's certainly nothing wrong with using these exams for the MCSE on Windows 2000 (or on Windows Server 2003), but given that new versions of those exams will probably be ready sometime next year, you should be prepared for upgrade requirements somewhere in your future. That said, because 70-228 and 70-229 also count toward the MCDBA, you might want to pursue that credential as well. member: Should I try to get an MCSA on the way to getting my MCSE?

Tittel: Nothing wrong with that. Because all exams for the MCSA count toward the MCSE (except for the CompTIA A+/Server+ and A+/Network+ combos), there's no harm in this approach anyway. It will limit your options to some extent (70-218 only counts as an elective for MCSE, but it's by no means a bad elective to take). But it won't hurt you either in the long run or the short run. member: I am currently on the MCSE track for 2000 Server. Should I continue working down this track? Should this lead to a job?

Tittel: The Windows Server 2003 track really won't be completely available until late 2003, and you won't find the full plethora of study guides, exam crams, practice tests and so forth available for these exams until four to eight weeks after they go 'live.' If you're already down the Win2k MCSE trail, I urge you to finish it soon and plan on taking the upgrade exams (70-292 and 70-294) if and when you must.

As to whether or not an MCSE (either Windows 2000 or Windows Server 2003) should lead to a job, I really can't say. Can it lead to a job? Perhaps it can, but it's by no means a guarantee, especially in tight job markets (like the one we're in now).

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 of books. He's worked on many books on Microsoft, CompTIA, Sun/Java, security certifications, and the Certified Internet Webmaster (CIW) designation.

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