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MCSA roars onto the certification map

Ed Tittel examines Microsoft's new certification program.


MCSA roars onto the certification map
By Ed Tittel
LANWrights, Inc.

When Microsoft announced its new exam -- 70-218 Managing a Microsoft Windows 2000 Network Environment -- and its Microsoft Certified Systems Administration (MCSA) program last fall, I was among those certification watchers who welcomed this turn of events. Many of us also predicted that this four-exam, mid-level credential would become quite popular, not only as a stepping stone to the more advanced MCSE, but also as a mid-tier program in its own right.

Recent reports from Microsoft and the media seem to bear this out:

  • Earlier this month, Microsoft announced that the population of MCSAs passed the 5,000 mark on March 11, less than seven weeks after the credential became available. This is a rapid growth rate, even though it includes individuals who passed the 70-218 beta as well as those who already had MCSEs. (

  • In early December 2001, reported that the MCSA was the number-one target for certification candidates in 2002, ahead of all kinds of other hot programs including Oracle DBA (#2), CCNA (#3), CCNP (#4), and MCDBA (#5). Interestingly, the MCSE also dropped out of the top 10 (perhaps supplanted by the less demanding MCSA). (

  • On March 1, TechRepublic's Erik Eckel reported positively on the MCSA, standing by his earlier prediction that "soon, MCSAs will outnumber MCSEs." With over 400,000 MCSEs already certified, that's a whopping serious prediction. If there are 444,785 MCSEs as reported by in January, adding 5,000 new MCSAs in seven weeks will only add up to around 40,000 per year. We'll have to wait and see. (

  • Michael Domingo's March 12 story for MCP Magazine explains how as many as 1,000 individuals may have attained MCSA status by virtue of passing the beta and already possessing an MCSE. This may slightly inflate the apparent growth curve for this credential. (

Although my predictions may not be as aggressive as others who follow IT certifications, the MCSA is a welcome addition to the Microsoft certification scene. I also believe that the letters MCSA are bound to wind up tacked onto the ends of lots of IT professionals' names in the next year or so. And while mathematics dictates that the MCSA can't pass the MCSE in volume before next year, I may be surprised to learn otherwise. We'll have a much better idea in the next six months as the real growth curve for this certification makes itself known.

One thing about the MCSA program is certain: This close to its starting point, it has no place to go but up. It will be interesting to watch how this program develops and how widely adopted it becomes within the general Microsoft certified population.

Ed Tittel is a principal at a small content development company based in Austin, Texas, and the creator of the Exam Cram series, and has worked on over 30 certification-related books on Microsoft, Novell, and Sun related topics.

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