Whether you’re wanting to break into the tech world or just looking for a competitive edge, the MCSA certification can help. Learn more about what it takes to get certified here.
Tech is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. There are a lot of job opportunities out there for IT and computer science enthusiasts, but there are also a lot of smart, dedicated, qualified applicants who serve as your competition.
If you’re looking to get a leg up on the competition and take your resume to the next level, consider getting MCSA certified.
MCSA, which stands for Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate, is a great way to prove your knowledge and skill in your area of expertise and market yourself to potential employers.
What are Microsoft Certifications?
Microsoft Certifications are some of the most valuable and highly-regarded certifications in the tech industry. There are a lot of distinct advantages that earning a certification can give you, both in the job marketplace and once you’ve been hired. You can get a Microsoft Certification in any number of specific categories, like mobility, productivity, and app building. In addition to there being different sectors, there are also different levels of Microsoft Certification.
Depending on which category you choose to pursue, the most basic certification will either be a Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) or Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA).
What is an MCSA Certification?
An MCSA is a mid-tier Microsoft Certification. Before you get your MCSA, you’re likely to need to obtain an MTA first. However, you might be able to skip the MTA part if you can prove that you already have equivalent knowledge through college courses or work experience.
Once you’ve gotten your MCSA, you can choose to pursue further certification by getting a Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert certification, or MCSE, which is the highest level of Microsoft Certification.
How long to become MCSA Certified?
It depends on the chosen learning method. You can become MCSA certified in 6 days if you choose Bootcamp training. Other traditional methods will take longer.
Currently, Microsoft offers the following MCSA certifications:
- MCSA: BI Reporting
- MCSA: Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations
- MCSA: Office 365
- MCSA: SQL 2016 BI Development
- MCSA: SQL 2016 Database Administration
- MCSA: SQL 2016 Database Development
- MCSA: SQL Server 2012/2014
- MCSA: Universal Windows Platform
- MCSA: Web Applications
- MCSA: Windows 10
- MCSA: Windows Server 2012
- MCSA: Windows Server 2016
MCSA Certification Path
First, you need to choose which pathway you’d like to pursue. Once you’ve chosen, you can take a look at the prerequisite certifications and exams you need to earn your MCSA.
Most pathways will require you to earn an MTA certification or otherwise prove your knowledge, although some MCSAs have no prerequisites.
Then, you’ll need to take and pass two or three required MCSA exams.
How Do I Prepare for the MCSA Exams?
There are several ways that you can prepare to take the MCSA exams. Many brick-and-mortar and online bookstores offer MCSA prep books that will guide you through an independent study program for your exams.
Many of them also provide at least one included practice exam, so you can get a feel for the types of questions you’re likely to encounter when you take the real thing.
You can also choose to attend a bootcamp or take a prep course. Depending on your personal schedule, there are a lot of options available to you for these kinds of programs.
You can choose to attend a classroom course in person, learn remotely in a virtual classroom, take an independent self-paced course, or attend a private group training session.
A single boot camp session or prep course can take anywhere between a few days to two weeks.
You can track your preparedness for your MCSA exams on the Microsoft website.
Each exam link includes a rubric of skills that you need to master in order to pass, as well as the type of person that would best benefit from each certification.
What Are the Tests Like?
The specific characteristics of any given exam will vary based on the content you’re being tested on, but in general, you can expect your MCSA exam to last about two hours. There will likely be between forty and sixty questions.
The question format also varies from test to test. MCSA exams have been known to contain multiple-choice, short answer, case study, and drag and drop questions. You can register to take any of the MCSA exams on the Microsoft website.
Within a few minutes of completing the exam, you’ll find out whether you passed or failed. Each exam is graded out of 1,000 points. You need to earn at least 700 points to pass.
When you finish the test, you’ll also receive a personalized score report that assesses how well you performed in each aspect of the exam, so you can determine your own strengths and weaknesses. However, you won’t be able to see which specific questions you got right or wrong.
Ultimately, the amount of time it takes for you to earn an MCSA certification depends on the amount of prior knowledge you bring to the table and the method of study you choose to engage in. If you received previous training or have work experience in the pathway you’re pursuing, you’ll be able to study and pass your exams more quickly.
Additionally, if you take a boot camp course, you’ll be able to fit more intensive study into a shorter period of time, which speeds up the process. No matter how long it takes you to study for and pass the exams, an MCSA certification will undoubtedly give you the competitive edge you’re looking for in your field.