Roadmap to Success: MCSE Server Infrastructure

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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 April 4, 2017 to reflect relevant changes to the Microsoft MCSE: Server Infrastructure certification curriculum.

Server 2012 continues to dominate the landscape across the IT industry, making the MCSE Server Infrastructure a highly sought after certification among CBT Nuggets learners and employers. Generally, the MCSE Server Infrastructure qualifies learners for positions such as IT manager, IT director, systems administrator, and senior systems administrator.

MCSE: Server Infrastructure

CRITICAL UPDATE: Microsoft restructured its certifications. The MCSE: Server Infrastructure certification was formally retired on March 31, 2017, and replaced by the MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure. For more information on the restructure, please read our What to Expect from the New Microsoft Certification Paths post.

The Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) Server Infrastructure (now the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) Cloud Platform and Infrastructure) certification is designed to validate that learners have the skills and knowledge to run a highly efficient and modern data center, with expertise in identity management, systems management, virtualization, storage, and networking. The MCSE: Server Infrastructure certification is made up of five exams, all of which are covered by CBT Nuggets training:

Typically, learners pursuing this certification should have two (2) or more years of experience working with Server 2012. The MCSE is an expert-level certification, so learners should have some experience before embarking on this certification pathway.

Exam Details
The following exam details are applicable for each exam that makes up the MCSE: Server Infrastructure certification.

70-410, 70-411, and 70-412 Exams
Time allotted for exam: 2 hours (120 minutes) per exam
Number of questions: 40-60* per exam
Passing score: 700** per exam
Question types: Multiple choice; multiple choice/multiple answer; scenario
Exam registration: Microsoft Learning or Pearson Vue
Please note that MCSA: Server 2012 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 resource) to guide your study and preparation.

70-413 and 70-414 Exams
Time allotted for exam: 2.5 hours (150 minutes) per exam
Number of questions: 40-60* per exam
Passing score: 700** per exam
Question types: Multiple choice; multiple choice/multiple answer; scenario
Exam registration: Microsoft Learning or Pearson Vue
Please note that MCSE: Cloud Platform and Server Infrastructure 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 resource) to guide your study and preparation.

*Microsoft does not publish the exact number of questions associated with its exams. Therefore, the number of questions a learner will see varies on a case-by-case basis.
**Because the number of questions varies, it is not necessarily true that learners must earn a simple 70 percent to pass the exam.

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, each of the exams associated with the MCSE: Cloud Platform and Server Infrastructure include an Exam Replay, but that may change. Learners should research Exam Replay availability to avoid missing out on the opportunity.

Recertification

Microsoft’s MCSE certifications are valid for three years. According to Microsoft, recertification exams are currently available for all MCSE and MCSD specialties. Recertification exams cover material from the exams taken to originally earn the credential, with particular emphasis on the most recent technology and process changes.

The Next Step

The MCSE: Server Infrastructure is an expert-level certification, but as a vendor-specific certification, learners can choose to diversify their resumes or delve more deeply into additional Microsoft certifications as next steps.

Within the Microsoft universe, the MCSE: Server Infrastructure is built on the foundation of the MCSA: Server 2012 certification, making several other MCSE-level certifications available to learners:

Outside the Microsoft universe, learners who earn the MCSE: Server Infrastructure certification are well equipped to also consider:

Career Considerations
ITCareerFinder.com offers a great breakdown of MCSE salaries, including the MCSE: Server Infrastructure average salary, that comes in at $93,267 annually. Payscale.com provides a helpful salary guide to help learners determine appropriate pay scales for job opportunities associated with any MCSE certification and reports a range of salaries between $50,048 and $144,966. Roles that are common for those holding an MCSE certification include 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.

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 renew 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. Each 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
The MCSE: Server Infrastructure certification demonstrates your expertise in working with a technology that is nearly ubiquitous across the IT industry. Proving your experience with Server 2012 and your ability to design and implement an advanced server infrastructure will create career opportunities for you to fulfill your professional aspirations and goals!

Watch. Learn. Conquer the MCSE: Server Infrastructure!