Making Sense of the New MCSE: Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert


The reinvention of the MCSE has spawned a number of opinions, both good and bad. As an MCT who has seen many certification changes over the years — both good and bad — I want to share my own opinions about how things are falling into place.

The MCSE is Back!

First of all, I’m excited about the new MCSE certifications and I’m glad that Microsoft has found a way to get back to the MCSE brand that is recognized around the world, and not just within the IT industry. I have been very proactive in working with Microsoft Learning during this process, as I strongly believe the new MCSE certification program will benefit IT professionals. Although there is still much confusion about the new certifications I know that when all the questions have been answered, IT professionals will be happy with these changes.

Let’s face it, this is a change that IT professionals have been asking for since the MCIP and MCTS certifications were released over 5 years ago. As I mentioned in my first post on this topic (Read: The MCSE is Back!), to this day I get students asking me about the Windows Server 2008 MCSE track. This alone should tell you that Microsoft simply made a mistake when they decided to get rid of the MCSE certifications and now they are doing the right thing by bringing it back.

Understanding the New MCSE

How should IT professionals approach the new MCSE certification program?
To begin with, I think it’s still a bit early for criticizing Microsoft and the new certification program. Over the next few weeks and months, and especially with the release of Windows Server 2012, the program will start to make much more sense. For those of you who are being impatient about the whole thing, my suggestion is to pretend for the moment that nothing has changed and continue with your current certification program. Once the dust settles and questions become answered, Microsoft will be able to illustrate the future of the new MCSE certification program and what it has to offer.

If you’re currently working on a Microsoft cert, there’s no need to panic; my clear advice is to continue with your current certification plans. This is the advice that I have been giving my students every time something like this happens and I’ve never had anyone tell me that they have regretted their decision in continuing on their certification paths. If anything, the cert that you’re working on will only help you get closer to the MCSE and your career goals. Remember, IT certifications play a very important role in placing qualified IT professionals for the right jobs; this is not something that will change anytime soon. This is not the first or last time that Microsoft is revising their certification program, we’ve seen this before and I’m sure it’ll happen again. Microsoft’s certification program has been around for 20 years and it has been successful all this time, nothing says that this will change with the latest revisions.

What the New MCSE Means

With that said, there is one concern that I have with the new MCSE and that is the way it is going to be used. The letters are back, but unlike the original MCSE which was based off of the server products, the new MCSE is being presented to be more like the MCITP where there are going to be a whole number of MCSE certifications which will be available. As much as I can appreciate that the IT marketplace is very diverse and may not seem to cater to overly generalized certifications, I am concerned that the MCSE which has such strong brand recognition will lose its impact in the same way that the MCITP was never really accepted by IT HR personnel. There are many people asking why we couldn’t just bring the original MCSE back the way it was (other than changing the name from engineer to expert for legal reasons), and then have the specializations added like “Messaging” and “Security” that we had before and add ones like “Private Cloud”. I personally agree that this would have been a better solution.

I’d love to know what you think. Leave a comment with your thoughts and/or hit me up on my Facebook page.