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Microsoft Certified System Engineer (MCSE) - the old War General - Top Gun Information Technology (IT) Certification (2) - What is MCSE, Why MCSE

contd from... What is MCSE? Why MCSE? (1)

- testing format

While Microsoft does not identify the testing format, Microsoft exams include adaptive testing, traditional fixed-form, Select-and-place, Case study-based, and simulation technology. The adoption of this varied exam format and occasional change of exam questions has helped to improve the credibility of Microsoft exams.

When testing and questions are static and conventional it's easy to cram and pass the exams. Is cramming the answer? Cram for certification? Don't make me laugh!

A certification must be a valid test of an individual's ability to demonstrate command over a body of knowledge and apply that knowledge productively. Who benefits from “paper certification” which only demonstrates a person's ability to cram and pass a test?

There must also be security in the testing experience, as well as security over design and delivery of the exams. A certification's credibility is ultimately affected by the way such testing issues are perceived by stakeholders in the IT community. In this regard Microsoft has improved from the early days of the certification craze when many simply crammed to achieve MCSEs.

Target audience

Do you have the need for expertise with Microsoft networking products - Windows Server 2003, XP? MCSE is essentially an advanced level certification; it is not a certification for novices but one for experienced professionals. Due to Microsoft's dominance and the huge acceptance of certification in the networking sphere, MCSE is no doubt the world's most popular certification, but who is it really for? For one, don't go near MCSE if you don't have the experience. Certifications are work based validations of practical knowledge and skills so you should always match your choice of certification with your level of experience. You cannot afford to make certification choices based on popularity.

MCSE is a high level network infrastructure credential for those with the ability to design and implement large, enterprise computer networks. You should be able to design and integrate the needs of clients into an overall architecture. For such opportunities even if you have the certifications you won't even be considered if the experience does not match.

At the top level certifications matter, but experience must be in the equation. Big bang, “get there quick” approach may not work. What really is the point of going the whole hog of taking seven exams helpful if you haven't mastered the basics? In the days when cramming to pass MCSE exams was a fad, a standing joke was that an MCSE earned by cramming stood for Must Call Someone Else. But all that has changed over time as explained earlier; Microsoft has beefed up the integrity of its certification exams through improved testing techniques and better exam security.

Many new entrants and career changers with interest in Microsoft network infrastructure however miss the boat by investing first in the complete MCSE process instead of starting gradually with foundation and intermediate level Microsoft network certifications such as MCP/MCSA in Microsoft networking areas. As mentioned earlier you can achieve your MCP by passing one current Microsoft Certification exam.

- the future

Change is constant in the IT environment. You should know that by now. The learning and certification community has been one of the key drivers. MCSE, the old war horse blazed the trail and set milestones in the IT certification environment. But is the old reliable on its last legs? Time may soon be up for the old war general in view of Microsoft's focus on new generation certifications and its new products (Server 2008 in the networking sphere).

And though MCSE has many obvious benefits it also has its flaws. Microsoft's new generation of Certifications were created to address some of these drawbacks noticeable in MCSE and the older generation of Microsoft certifications. For example the number of exams one has to pass to achieve MCSE has always been an issue. What really does passing seven exams prove? Earning a certification in that manner over time can become more of a battle of staying power (which has its merits) than a test of professional IT expertise.

In addition while MCSE validates expertise in deploying Microsoft networking skills to provide business solutions, there are too many overlapping objectives in the various exams you have to take. According to Microsoft the next generation of certifications are, "Targeted and flexible; Rigorous and credible; Relevant and simple". Time will tell if there is real change. The jury is still out.

So does MCSE remain relevant? It depends. Is Windows 2003 server still in use? Of course, if Windows 2003 server is still being used and deployed there will still be a need for such infrastructure design expertise. MCSE helps if it will help you better understand IT needs and implement IT solutions in a meaningful way. But change is inevitable.

New generation soldiers are here to stay and with help from Microsoft's marketing battalions they are gathering momentum fast; but in the meantime until the new Microsoft services and products take over, MCSE still rules roost for many. MCSE, old general never dies. 

previous .... Microsoft Certified System Engineer (MCSE) - the old War General - Top Gun Information Technology (IT) Certification (1) What is MCSE, Why MCSE

Jide Awe

Jide Awe is the Publisher of Jidaw.com

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