Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE)

What is a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE)?

The Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) is a certification Microsoft offered for IT professionals who demonstrated expertise in designing, implementing, and administering Windows server infrastructure and other Microsoft technologies.

The certification was popular in the 1990s and 2000s. But Microsoft retired the MCSE certification in 2017 in favor of new certifications that better align with the company's current technologies and services.

Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer requirements

The requirements for obtaining the MCSE varied over time as Microsoft updated the certification to reflect changes in their technology stack.

Candidates had to meet a few common requirements:

  • Pass several exams. MCSE candidates had to pass a series of Microsoft exams that demonstrated their proficiency in designing, implementing, and administering Microsoft technologies, such as Windows servers, networking and Active Directory.
  • Have experience. Candidates were typically required to have at least one to two years of experience working with Microsoft technologies in a professional capacity.
  • Stay up to date. MCSE holders had to pass recertification exams or earn a new certification every few years to demonstrate their familiarity with changes in Microsoft technologies.

Overall, the MCSE certification was designed to be a rigorous test of an IT professional's knowledge and abilities with Microsoft technologies.

Why Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer was retired

The MCSE certification was superannuated by Microsoft in 2017, along with several other certifications, in favor of a new certification model that better reflects the current state of technology and the needs of IT professionals.

Microsoft decided to retire the MCSE for several reasons:

  • The technology landscape changed. Microsoft's technology stack changed significantly with the introduction of cloud computing, virtualization and other new technologies the MCSE certification did not cover. The new certification model is designed to address these changes and better prepare IT professionals for the current technology landscape.
  • The certification was outdated. Some IT professionals and employers no longer viewed the certification as a reliable indicator of an IT professional's knowledge and abilities because it did not cover newer technologies or best practices.
  • The certification program was fragmented. Microsoft had many different certification programs for different products and technologies, which could be confusing for IT professionals and employers. The new certification model is designed to provide a more streamlined, cohesive certification program.

Retiring the MCSE was part of a broader Microsoft effort to modernize and streamline its certification programs to better meet the needs of IT professionals and employers in a rapidly evolving technology landscape.

Modern certifications comparable to MCSE

Microsoft has introduced several new certification paths that are comparable to the MCSE certification, depending on the area of expertise an IT professional wants to pursue. Some of these modern certifications include the following:

  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate. This certification is designed for IT professionals who work with Microsoft Azure, Microsoft's cloud computing platform. It demonstrates proficiency in managing Azure resources, implementing and managing storage, configuring and managing virtual networks, and more.
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert. This certification is designed for IT professionals who design and implement solutions on Microsoft Azure. It demonstrates proficiency in implementing and monitoring an Azure infrastructure, implementing management and security solutions, and more.
Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert badge
The new Microsoft role-based certifications use digital badges for verification and sharing.
  • Microsoft Certified: Modern Desktop Administrator Associate. This certification is designed for IT professionals who manage and deploy devices and apps in an enterprise environment. It demonstrates proficiency in deploying, managing, and securing modern desktops and devices, and deploying and managing applications and updates.
  • Microsoft Certified: Security, Compliance, and Identity Fundamentals. This certification is designed for IT professionals who want to demonstrate knowledge of security, compliance, and identity concepts related to Microsoft technologies. It is a good starting point for those interested in pursuing security-related certifications.

These are just a few examples of the many certifications Microsoft now offers. The new certification paths are designed to be more focused and specific and to better reflect the needs of IT professionals in the modern technology landscape.

Explore Microsoft cloud certifications Windows admins should pursue.

This was last updated in April 2023

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