Roadmap to Success: MCSE Data Platform

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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 on February 21, 2017 to reflect relevant changes to the Microsoft MCSE: Data Platform certification curriculum.

The MCSE Data Platform certification is rapidly gaining momentum and popularity, as an increasing number of businesses and organizations adopt Azure. This certification will qualify learners for roles such as database designers, database developers, database administrators, and a variety of positions related to cloud functionality.

MCSE: Data Platform

CRITICAL UPDATE: Microsoft has restructured its certifications. The MCSE: Data Platform certification will be formally retired March 31, 2017, and will be replaced by the MCSE: Data Management and Analytics. For more information on the restructure, please read our recent post, What to Expect from the New Microsoft Certification Paths.

The Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert Data Platform is designed to enable learners to demonstrate their skills and knowledge in building and administrating enterprise-scale data solutions on-premises and in cloud environments. The MCSE: Data Platform certification is made up of five exams, all of which are covered by CBT Nuggets training:

*Please note that successfully completing the 70-461, 70-462, and 70-463 exams results in the Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA) SQL Server 2012 certification.

Typically, learners pursuing this certification should have two (2) or more years of experience working with SQL Server. Learners also should be familiar with writing T-SQL statements in order to expect a successful outcome to their MCSE: Data Platform efforts. The MCSE is considered an intermediate-level certification, so learners should have some experience before embarking on this certification pathway.

Exam Details
Pearson, the testing center that most typically provides Microsoft exams, offers a great Exam Profile series that addresses nearly all the MCSE: Data Platform exams.

However, the following exam details are applicable for each exam that makes up the MCSE: Data Platform certification.

Time allotted for exam: 2 hours (120 minutes) per exam
Number of questions: 45-55*
Passing score: 700 (approximate)
Question types: Multiple choice; multiple choice/multiple answer; scenario
Exam registration: Microsoft Learning or Pearson Vue
Exam cost: $165 (USD) per exam
Skills Measured: Each exam registration page on the Microsoft website provides a list of Skills Measured (free resource) to guide your study and preparation.
*Microsoft does not publish the exact number of questions associated with its exams.

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, MCSE: Data Platform exams include an Exam Replay, but that may change. Learners should research Exam Replay availability to avoid missing out on the opportunity.

Recertification
MCSE certifications are valid for three (3) years and subject to recertification from the date of certification. However, because this certification is scheduled to be retired March 31, 2017, once earned, this certification will be valid for life. Your Active MCSE certification will eventually be moved to the Legacy section of your Microsoft transcript.

The Next Step

The MCSE: Data Platform certification is an intermediate-level certification, but it is vendor-specific. Therefore, learners can choose to diversify their certification resumes or delve more deeply into additional Microsoft certifications as next steps.

The MCSE: Data Platform certification can be an excellent building block for additional certifications including:

Career Considerations
Payscale.com provides information that can help learners determine appropriate pay scales for job opportunities associated with an MCSE certification. Depending on experience, an employee who holds any MCSE certification can earn anywhere between $47,754 and $144,436. However, this does not specifically account for the MCSE: Data Platform certification. Common roles or titles for those that hold an MCSE: Data Platform certification include database designer, database developer, database administrator, IT manager, IT director, systems administrator, and senior systems engineer.

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.

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

Concluding Thoughts
The MCSE: Data Platform certification is a great step in a seasoned professional’s career – and one that will open up additional opportunities both at work and in training. Start working toward your MCSE: Data Platform certification today!

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