IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Coping with MCSE and MCSD Changes

Two of Microsoft’s most common certifications are changing dramatically. Here’s what you need to know.

By James E. Gaskin

Aprils Fool’s Day 2017 will be a little more serious for Microsoft certification holders. Two of the most common certs, Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert and Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer, will change dramatically. Microsoft calls it “streamlining” to better align with “industry-recognized areas of competence.”

If certain of your certs were active as of September 26, 2016, you automatically earn the corresponding new MCSE or MCSD rating without taking additional exams. MCSE Server Infrastructure, Private Cloud, Data Platform, BI, Enterprise Devices and Apps, SharePoint, Communication, and Messaging certs will transfer. So will MCSD App Builder. But these certs will all be retired on March 31, 2017.

The new “Centers of Excellence” certifications will be MCSE Mobility, Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, Productivity, and Data Management and Analytics. MCSD App Builder will replace Web Applications and Universal Windows Programs. You will need Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate certification as the first step.

Doug Vanderweide, an instructor with Linux Academy Inc., who develops Azure certification courses, says, “Microsoft is basically creating a badge system. They’re looking to create and recognize every step along the certification path.”

Similar to becoming an Eagle Scout, “You earn badges any time you successfully complete a specific skill, and you combine these individual badges in a certain way to earn certifications,” continues Vanderweide. “As soon as you pass two or three base exams, you’ll earn an MCSA certification; pass one more exam, and you are either an MCSD or MCSE. So the former system, in which three or four exams earned you one (albeit very important) certificate, your three or four exams will now earn you five or six badges. I think that encourages people to stick with it,” he adds.

Encouraging Annual Credentials
Jennifer Didier, CEO of Directions Training Center Inc., believes these changes will encourage certification holders to earn annual credentials, proving they remain industry leaders. “Microsoft products are advancing much quicker than they have before,” she says. “Technologies like Azure update week to week. Annual knowledge checks are necessary to ensure IT pros and developers remain current in their understanding of evolving technologies. This is different from requiring exams every three years, as Microsoft did in the past.”

What should current and aspiring MCSE/MCSD holders do between now and April? “If you had an active MCSE or MCSD prior to late September, you will continue to hold that MCSE or MCSD. You’ll also be able to certify every two years, as it has been in the past,” says Vandeweide.

“Prepare for the MCSA and elective exams,” says Didier. “Receive the MCSA certification in the desired Center of Excellence path. Then choose a single exam from the elective exam pool to obtain an MCSE or MCSD.”

About the Author

James E. Gaskin is a freelance writer and former reseller based in Mesquite, Texas. He writes frequently for The ChannelPro Network.