Consider these scenarios: Karl is a newcomer to the information technology industry, and wants to earn a Microsoft Windows Server certification to give him an advantage in the job marketplace. Michele, by contrast, has worked as a Windows systems administrator for 5 years, but wants to add a Microsoft certification to her resume in order to help her advance in her current position.
The question that both Karl and Michele have for us today is, "Which Microsoft certification is more valuable in the marketplace: the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) or the Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP)? What is the difference between the two titles, anyway?"
In this blog post we will make a formal recommendation for Karl, Michele, and any other 4sysops reader who may be pondering these same questions.
What is the MCSE? ^
Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)
I covered the new MCSE program in detail in my last post. What follows is a short summary of the main points.
The Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) was the top-tier IT pro certification for Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP. The credential covered the basic skill set of the Windows systems administrator and enterprise architect:
- Active Directory design, deployment, and support
- Network infrastructure design, deployment, and support
- Desktop support
You might wonder why I said that the MCSE in Windows Server 2003 was the top-tier IT pro credential. This news may come as a shock to you, friends, but the MCSE as we knew and loved it is dead. This is from the Microsoft Learning Web site:
The Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer certifications validate skills on technology that is no longer supported by Microsoft’s mainstream support. We recommend you pursue a certification on current technology.
Because Microsoft understands that the MCSE acronym still carries much weight in the IT marketplace, they have resurrected and rebranded the title. The new name of the MCSE is Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert.
NOTE: Microsoft also rebooted the retired Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA) title. This cert is now known as the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate.
Microsoft avoided the term engineer in the original MCSE acronym because traditional engineers tended to resent having their title co-opted by IT professionals.
The new MCSE is targeted to support Microsoft's cloud-based IT initiatives. To wit, there exist two new MCSE tracks:
Because we are concerned with Windows Server credentialing here, we shall move on to discuss the MCITP in Windows Server 2008.
What is the MCITP? ^
The Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP)
The Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) for Windows Server 2008 is the current-generation top-tier IT pro credential in Windows Server administration. Please read the detailed analysis of the MCITP that I wrote for 4Sysops to get the details of the three tracks:
- MCITP: Server Administrator on Windows Server 2008
- MCITP: Enterprise Administrator on Windows Server 2008
- MCITP: Virtualization Administrator on Windows Server 2008 R2
Advantages: Your cert will be aligned to the latest release of Windows Server and will thus deal with relevant, current technology. The exams are far easier to pass than the old Windows Server 2003 MCSE tests. You have to take fewer exams to earn the MCITP than you did to earn the MCSE.
Disadvantages: Industry recognition of this title is still developing slowly. Because the exams are so easy, some IT pros don't give the MCITP in Windows Server 2008 the respect given to the MCSE in Windows Server 2003. Microsoft appears to be gradually phasing out the MCITP in Windows Server 2008 in favor of the new MCSA and MCSE titles.
As we can see by studying the Microsoft Learning Web site, Microsoft is trying hard to steer current MCITP Windows Server 2008 candidates to complete one of the new MCSE tracks.
So what is better? MCSE or MCITP? ^
In my humble opinion, you should pursue the MCITP: Server Administrator credential if you are new to Windows Server certification. To my mind there is no point in spending the additional money and study time required to earn the second MCITP title in Enterprise Administration, much less the one on Windows Virtualization. The bottom line is that many human resources personnel and IT hiring managers who specify a MCITP in a job posting neither know nor care that Microsoft offers multiple versions of the title.
Given how aggressively Microsoft is pushing the new MCSA and MCSE titles, we may see the MCITP in Windows Server 2008 phase out over the next year or so. Get the cert while it's hot!
As you learned today, the MCSE in Windows Server 2003 has definitely gone the way of the dodo. Because the next-generation MCSE credentials deal with the personal cloud and/or SQL Server 2012, the MCITP is now the only choice to validate our Windows Server 2008 systems administration skill set.