MCSE vs MCITP: Is the MCSE Still Worth It?

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A lot of IT professionals as well as entry level  IT guys and gals are still confused about which Windows Server certification they should work on. 

Which one is more valuable?  Which one is going to get you a better job?  Should you get your MCSE certification or go for the new MCITP?

These are all valid questions and they are not easy to answer. You have to keep in mind that one certification may work great for one person, and it may not work out so well for another. 

To make the right decision, you really need to take some time, evaluate your situation and your current position, and come up with a solution that will work for you. To help you get started I would suggest to take into consideration your current job situation and ask yourself these questions:

  • Is my company still using Server 2003?  If so, for how long?
  • Am I going to be involved with Server 2008 migration?
  • How long do I plan on staying with my current company?
  • Do I plan on getting a new job?
  • Do I want a promotion?
  • Do I want to completely change my career?

All these questions (and few more that you might come up with) will help you determine which certification path to go with. But here, let me clarify some info for you guys; let's start with Windows Server 2003.

Windows Server 2003 MCSA/MCSE

The MCSA and MCSE certifications are very similar. In fact, 4 specific exams required for your MCSE will get you your MCSA in the progress. Then once you pass 3 additional exams you become MCSE certified.

So there are 4 exams required for the MCSA and 7 exams for the MCSE. As you can see the MCSE certification is a little more desirable than the MCSA because it's more advanced and you're required to know more (plus you need to pass 3 additional exams).

MCSA Exam Requirements

To become MCSA certified you are required to pass the following exams:

  • Exam 70-290 - Managing and Maintaining a Windows Server 2003 Environment
  • Exam 70-291 - Implementing, Managing, and Maintaining a Windows Server 2003 Network Infrastructure

And one of these two elective exams:

  • Exam 70-620 - TS: Configuring Microsoft Windows Vista Client
  • Exam 70-270 - Installing, Configuring, and Administering Windows XP Professional

Plus one additional exam, which is also an elective exam, from a list of about 20 exams to choose from. Here is the complete list -- just make sure you're looking at the Elective Exams under MCSA on Windows Server 2003.

This makes it a total of 4 exams -- two required and two electives -- to obtain your MCSA on Windows Server 2003.

MCSE Exam Requirements

Once you get your MCSA you will only need to pass the following 3 exams to become MCSE Certified:

  • Exam 70-293 - Planning and Maintaining a Windows Server 2003 Network Infrastructure
  • Exam 70-294 - Planning, Implementing, and Maintaining a Windows Server 2003 Active Directory Infrastructure

And one of these two:

  • Exam 70-297 - Designing a Windows Server 2003 Active Directory and Network Infrastructure
  • Exam 70-298 - Designing Security for a Windows Server 2003 Network

For more information on the MCSE requirements, exams and their objectives, check out this page.

Windows Server 2008 MCTS/MCITP

Just like with MCSA and MCSE, the MCTS and MCITP certifications are also closely connected. You get one certification on your way to another, except that you earn your MCTS title after passing only a single exam. This is the complete list of the Microsoft exams that you can take to earn your MCTS credential.

It's also good to know that by passing two of the MCTS exams, you get two MCTS certifications with two specific titles. For example, if you pass the Windows Vista - Configuration (70-620) Exam and the Windows Server 2008 Active Directory Configuration (70-640) Exam you have two MCTS certifications:

  1. MCTS: Windows Vista, Configuration
  2. MCTS: Windows Server 2008 Active Directory, Configuration

And you can continue to earn your MCTS certifications as you pass additional MCTS exams.

So ... how do you earn your MCITP? 

MCITP Exam Requirements

Well first let me mention that there are two MCITP certifications for Windows Server 2008: MCITP: Server Administrator and MCITP: Enterprise Administrator.

For the MCITP Server Administrator Certification you will need to pass:

  • Exam 70-640 - TS: Windows Server 2008 Active Directory, Configuring
  • Exam 70-642 - TS: Windows Server 2008 Network Infrastructure, Configuring
  • Exam 70-646 - Pro: Windows Server 2008, Server Administrator

For the MCITP Enterprise Administrator Certification you will need to pass:

  • Exam 70-640 - TS: Windows Server 2008 Active Directory, Configuring
  • Exam 70-642 - TS: Windows Server 2008 Network Infrastructure, Configuring
  • Exam 70-643 - TS: Windows Server 2008 Applications Infrastructure, Configuring

Plus one of these:

  • Exam 70-620 - TS: Configuring Microsoft Windows Vista Client
  • Exam 70-624 - TS: Deploying and Maintaining Windows Vista Client and 2007 Microsoft Office System Desktops

And the final exam:

  • Exam 70-647 - Pro: Windows Server 2008, Enterprise Administrator

Notice that exams 70-640 and 70-642 are required for both the Server Admin and Enterprise Admin certs (so it's probably wise to start with those two exams). The MCITP Enterprise Administrator, like the MCSE, is a bit more advanced and as you can tell, it requires more knowledge and more testing.

If you're interested in learning more about the two Server 2008 MCITP Certs check out:

The "Other" MCITP Certifications

I know this is a little off topic, since we are talking about Windows Server certification paths ... but I thought I'd mention it anyway.

You can get MCITP certified in SQL Server, Exchange, Windows Client and Microsoft Office Project Server -- not just Windows Server. There are several options when it comes to earning your MCITP and it really depends on your personal interests and what you would like to do in the future.

Do you like doing support work and see yourself working at a Help Desk? (I worked at a Help Desk and really enjoyed helping people, it was also a really good experience for me.) If so, then the MCITP: Enterprise Support Technician might be the right choice for you.

If you enjoy working with databases then consider one of the SQL Server MCITP's -- there are 6 to choose from!

There are even two choices for your Server 2008 MCITP cert, that I mentioned above, so it's a good idea to learn as much as you can about the different MCITP certifications before you decide which one is right for you.

Check out the MCITP list from Microsoft to learn more about your choices when it comes to earning your MCITP certification.

The Final Question: MCSE or MCITP?

Option 1: MCITP

To make the right decision, first consider your situation.

If you only passed one of the required MCSE exams and you don't currently work with Server 2003 (or plan on working with it in the near future) then it might be more advantageous for you to switch over to Server 2008 and start working on your MCITP.

Option 2: MCSE

However, there are many people that already started working towards their MCSE but, for whatever reason didn't complete it. Should they just abandon their MCSE path and switch to the new MCITP?  Well, it depends.

Think about the questions I posed at the beginning of this article and consider how many exams you still need to complete to earn your MCSE.

At this point it becomes a no brainer -- if you already passed 5 of the exams and have only 2 left then you might as well finish your MCSE, since you have already invested a lot of time and effort (not to mention money) on this certification path.

Option 3: MCSE & MCITP

There are advantages to going this route -- you earn your MCSE on Server 2003 and then take the additional upgrade exams to earn your MCITP on Server 2008.

The upgrade paths are an awesome shortcut. With an MCSE on Server 2003 (sorry Server 2000 doesn't qualify for this upgrade) you can earn 3 MCTS certifications by passing a single upgrade exam:

  • Exam 70-649 - TS: Upgrading Your MCSE on Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008, Technology Specialist.

After that you need only one exam to earn your MCITP Server Admin:

  • Exam 70-646 - PRO: Windows Server 2008, Server Administrator

Or two exams to earn your MCITP Enterprise Admin:

  • Exam 70-620 - TS: Configuring Windows Vista Client
  • or

  • Exam 70-624 - TS: Deploying and Maintaining Windows Vista Client and 2007 Microsoft Office System Desktops
  • and

  • Exam 70-647 - PRO: Windows Server 2008, Enterprise Administrator

Here's some additional information on upgrading your MCSE to MCITP on Server 2008.

Where to Find MCSE and MCITP Training?

Whatever your decision is going to be -- whether you want to finish up your MCSE or go for your MCITP -- we got you covered! 

We have training videos that will help you earn both your MCSE and MCITP certifications. We also have training for those of you who are interested in the upgrade path from MCSA/MCSE on Server 2003. 

I took the 70-640 and 70-620 exams after watching our videos, just to test our instructors (I know, I'm evil ;)) and I passed on first try -- and so can you!

Here are links to all of our Windows Server 2003 and 2008 training videos:

MCSA/MCSE Server 2003 Training:

MCTS/MCITP Server 2008 Training:

Time to Decide and Get Windows Server Certified!

No more excuses! No more procrastinating! No more wasting time!

The new MCITP's have been out for over a year now and it's time for you to take action -- either finish up what you already started on your MCSE path (then take the upgrade exams to earn your MCITP) or, if you think that completing your MCSE is a waste of time then start working toward your MCITP.  Either way, it's time to make a decision and get certified.

I hope that my article will be able to help you make the right decision and remember, you can always post your specific situation in the comments below and I will try to help you as best as I can! Good luck!

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Contributor

Gosia Grabowska

(MCTS Active Directory, MCTS Vista, Network+, Linux+, Project+, PMP) is an experienced Network Support Specialist and an expert in Windows Server support. She graduated from DePaul University, Chicago with a Bachelor degree in Network Technologies with highest honors. Gosia has over 8 years of technical and support experience and has worked as Systems Administrator for a high profile law firm, where she managed the Backup and Disaster Recovery plan. Gosia has been a part of the Train Signal team since 2006 as the Product Manager and has written many articles on a variety of topics, including Exchange Server 2007, Windows Vista, Small Business Server, and more.