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MCSA Certification Exam Requirements

If you're interested in computers and like to see that things run smoothly, becoming a Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator might be for you! Large and small businesses, non-profit organizations and educational facilities (including schools, colleges and universities) need tech-savvy, certified administrators to plan, maintain and organize computer information systems. If this sounds like something you'd be interested in, read on! A Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (or MCSA for short) is an individual who has been certified through a rigorous training program in System Administration provided by Microsoft, and more specifically relating to Microsoft systems. The MCSA shows employers you've got what it takes to manage networks using Windows programs such as the Windows Server 2003 system and their newer product, Windows Exchange Server 2010.

Although there are no educational specifications to start an MCSA, candidates must have at least 1 year of practical experience in system administration. This does not have to include knowledge of Microsoft-specific administration systems, though it is preferable. You should also be aware that although some employers are satisfied with just the MCSA, others may require a related Bachelor's degree or affiliate degree, usually in subjects such as computer science and information systems. Through the MCSA course, you will learn the ins and outs of Microsoft networking and server systems, allowing you to work effectively with Microsoft networking and server technologies, including troubleshooting, updating and designing and implementing solutions to problems using Microsoft software. This will include the ability to perform basic system administration tasks, using Microsoft administrative software and computer systems to:

  • Keeping track of inventory
  • Handling customer
  • Keeping secure financial accounts and other sensitive information

In addition to learning the use of these systems, by the time you have completed your MCSA, you should also be able to install and maintain these systems. There a variety of ways to study and prepare for the exam or exams you must pass to achieve the MCSA qualification. These include instructor-led training, practice tests, self-paced training kits and Microsoft Press books. Although some may prefer instructor-led training, Microsoft recommends a self-study method, and offers preparation guides for each exam, which include a list of relevant skills students can practice.

Alternatively, you could choose to study at a community or technical college. Although these courses are not specific to passing the MCSA, they should cover the same ground as the exams, and some institutions may also offer a practice exam. Furthermore, if you are studying a Bachelor's degree program in a related area (such as computer science or information systems), your university or college may offer an exam preparation or affiliate program. If you are currently studying for, or intend to study, a Bachelor's degree in a relevant field, you may wish to bear in mind that coursework in database management, programming and systems analysis prepare students for careers in systems administration, and may be seen as favorable by employers. For more details, ask your college or university, or visit Microsoft's website. The MCSA is an excellent qualification to take in preparation for a career in system administration. System administrators are employed by a wide variety of institutions, in sectors as far-ranging as healthcare, finance and education, so there are great job prospects for system administrators with MCSA credentials. Here is a brief description of the role as a systems administrator.

In the most simple terms, system administrators keep track of great deals of information, and take care of the software and hardware technology used for this purpose. This can cover a wide array of functions, the most common of which include:

  • Managing servers
  • Performing hardware and software upgrades
  • Monitoring network stability
  • Helping users troubleshoot computer issues

In addition to your excellent knowledge of networks and servers, you must also have excellent written and oral communication skills, and be able to translate your technical knowledge into lay-terms for system users. You will also need patience and good customer service skills remember, if everyone was as computer literate as you, you'd be out of a job! You must be able to resist the frustration of dealing with commonly recurring problems, solving user issues effectively and with a smile no matter how many times you've seen the same problem before! Most system administrators will also have a Bachelor's degree in a computer-related field, such as computer science or information systems. Although this is not a prerequisite for either the MCSA credential or a career as a system administrator, most companies do prefer a more thorough academic background in the field, so please bear this in mind, especially if you are looking to change careers or do not have much formal education.