Roadmap to Success: MCSA Windows 10

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Roadmap to Success is a series of posts designed to help learners better understand certification pathways, career opportunities associated with those certifications, and next steps beyond certification.

UPDATED: We updated this article March 21, 2017 to reflect relevant changes to the Microsoft Windows 10 certification curriculum.

With the launch of Windows 10, workplaces are in need of IT professionals who can work effectively and efficiently with Microsoft’s latest operating system. Developing expertise using and administering Windows 10 can create professional opportunities to take your career to the next level. Generally, Windows 10 certifications qualify learners for roles in service or help desk, support, cloud services, IT admin, and more.

Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): Windows 10

The Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): Windows 10 certification is designed to validate that you have the expertise to configure, manage, and maintain a Windows 10 enterprise system. The MCSA Windows 10 certification is made up of two exams, both covered by CBT Nuggets training:

Generally, learners interested in pursuing the MCSA Windows 10 certification should have six months to two years of professional experience, including direct experience with Windows desktop administration, maintenance, and troubleshooting; basic experience with and understanding of Windows networking technologies; and basic knowledge of Active Directory and Microsoft Intune. Microsoft considers the MCSA certification an entry-level certification, however, learners should note that CBT Nuggets lists the relevant coursework as intermediate due to the complexity of the content.

Exam Details

Learners can take the certification exams for the MCSA Windows 10 in any order, but most choose to take the exams out of sequential order, starting with the 70-698 and moving on to the 70-697.

In addition, learners who earned an MCSA: Windows 8 certification between February 15, 2015 and May 31, 2015 can take the 70-697 exam for free. Learn more about the opportunity to take the 70-697 for free from Microsoft.

Time allotted for exam: 2 hours (120 minutes) per exam
Number of Questions: 40-60 per exam
Passing score: 700* per exam
*Because the number of questions varies, it is not necessarily true that learners must earn 70 percent to pass the exam.
Question types: Multiple choice/single answer; multiple choice/multiple answer; matching; simulations; short answer
Exam registration: Microsoft Learning or Pearson Vue
Please note that Microsoft Windows 10 certification exams may be available for online proctored delivery.
Exam cost: $165 (USD) per exam
Skills Measured: Each exam registration page on the Microsoft website provides a list of Skills Measured (free resources) to guide your study and preparation.

Microsoft exams have a reputation for being challenging. Many learners find they have to take an exam more than once to achieve a successful outcome. Fortunately, Microsoft is aware of the level of challenge associated with their exams, and often provides an Exam Replay, allowing learners to retake exams at no cost. Please note that the Exam Replay may not always be available. As of this post’s publication date, both the 70-698 and 70-697 exams include an Exam Replay, but that may change. Learners should research Exam Replay availability to avoid missing out on the opportunity.

Recertification

Microsoft’s MCSA certifications do not expire, meaning no recertification or continuing education is necessary to keep your MCSA certification valid. MCSA certifications are, effectively, lifetime certifications that are valid as long as the technology exists.

The Next Step

Most learners who successfully earn the MCSA: Windows 10 certification will continue on the same track, advancing their certification to the expert level with the MCSE. Under Microsoft’s new certification structure, earning the MCSE: Mobility certification requires that learners pass just one additional exam from a pool of three exam options: 70-695: Deploying Windows Desktops and Enterprise Applications; 70-696: Administering System Center Configuration Manager and Intune; and 70-398: Planning for and Managing Devices in the Enterprise.

Some learners may choose to supplement their product-specific expertise with further Microsoft certifications. Often, learners opt for:

Career Considerations

Payscale.com  and SimplyHired.com are excellent resources for helping learners determine average pay scales for job opportunities associated with roles in IT. The MCSA Windows 10 certification is typically held by system administrators. SimplyHired.com reports an average salary for those administering Windows 10 as $58,311. Payscale.com reports a broader range of salaries, dependent on professional experience, as $41,635 to $134,882. Common roles or titles for those who hold a Windows 10 certification include network administrator, systems administrator, IT manager, and senior systems administrator.

Microsoft Certifications

Microsoft certifications are laid out as a pyramid, with each level of certification leading learners to higher, more specialized, complex certifications. At the base of the Microsoft pyramid, IT professionals develop the foundation of knowledge with the MTA (Microsoft Technology Associate). The next level is the MCSA (Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate) and MCSD (Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer), which include many of the most popular certifications among IT professionals that are offered by Microsoft, including Server 2012, Office 365, and Azure. Finally, the MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solution Expert) represents the highest level of certification offered by Microsoft and provides learners the opportunity to develop specializations related to MCSA level content.

As Microsoft describes it, the new MCSE and MCSD certifications (MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, MCSE: Mobility, MCSE: Data Management and Analytics, MCSE: Productivity, and MCSD: AppBuilder) are aligned to Centers of Excellence, used by the Microsoft Partner Network to identify technical competencies that are widely recognizable by both Microsoft partners and customers. These credentials do not have a recertification requirement. Instead, the achievement date signifies how you keep up with changes to the technology.

Each year, you have the opportunity to re-earn the certification by passing an exam from the list of electives, demonstrating your investment in broadening or deepening your skills in a given Center of Excellence. Every time you earn the certification, a new certification entry is added to your transcript. This process replaces the existing recertification requirement of taking a specific recertification exam every two years (MCSD) or every three years (MCSE) to prevent your certification from going inactive. Learn more about the new Microsoft certification structure.

Begin exploring other Microsoft training and certification options to open up even more professional development opportunities.

Concluding Thoughts

This is a great time to pursue a Windows 10 certification! The product is on track to overtake Windows 7 (if it hasn’t already!), meaning IT pros need to be prepared to effectively and efficiently support and administer Windows 10. Earning the MCSA Windows 10 certification equips you with the skills and knowledge you need to meaningfully support your organization while also advancing your career!

Watch. Learn. Conquer Microsoft Windows 10!

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  • This is an almost must have certification now for many IT departments. If your company is based on Windows 10 then go ahead and pursue this cert. MSCE is the recommended end goal but the Windows10 MCSA is a great quick alternative while you are on your path to an MSCE.