Microsoft MCSA Certification

The pros know: When it comes to boosting resumes and displaying skills, not all certs are created equal.

Many IT experts stress the fact that some accreditations are more valuable than others in today’s market. Though technologies constantly evolve and new certifications frequently become available in specific areas, the importance of holding basic credentials shouldn’t be overlooked.

Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) certification is among a handful of IT building blocks many professionals rely on to display their skills working with systems running Windows Server operating systems.

Market share boosts MCSA certification’s value

According to an early 2011 report from Network World, nearly 90 percent of all computers worldwide run on a Microsoft operating system. With such a vast percentage of the market using Windows, IT professionals with strong certifications from Microsoft, including MCSA certification, are likely to be important players on any technology team.

Why the MCSA certification works for IT pros

According to Microsoft, the MCSA certification “helps enable IT professionals to demonstrate their ability to administer network and systems environments with Windows Server 2003-based business solutions.” It can be thought of as a stepping stone to the MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) and other certs.

Though Windows Server 2003 might sound like a dated operating system–indeed, official mainstream support from Microsoft ran out in July 2010–it’s important to be aware of the software’s staying power in world markets. Just as, according to a May 2011 report from Tech Spot, 53 percent of all PCs run Windows XP, many businesses have found no reason to replace their Windows Server 2003 platforms with Windows Server 2008 or 2008 R2 as of yet. That said, for newer technologies such as Windows Server 2008 or Exchange Server 2010, Microsoft recommends pursuing the MCITP (Microsoft Certified IT Professional) title.

According to Microsoft, IT pros eligible for MCSA candidacy typically have “one to 12 months of experience in working with a desktop operating system, a network operating system and an existing network infrastructure.” For most professionals, MCSA certification can be obtained after earning passing marks on four tests.

MCSA certification makes a difference in the job market

Microsoft boasts that workers who hold its certifications are valuable members of any IT staff, claiming, “Training and certification are necessary to maintain a high level of performance.” The company says that 63 percent of higher-level managers believe that certified individuals are more productive on the job and that certs authenticate relevant skills.

Earning MSCA certification might make a bigger paycheck a reality, too. According to information updated in May of 2011 from, annual salary for an IT manager with MCSA certification typically ranges from $55,900 to $85,817.

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