Should you still get the MCSE before it retires in 2021?

In February of this year, Microsoft revealed plans to restructure their certification model, announcing the retirement of their MCSA and MCSE paths by June 30th 2020 (later revised to January 31st 2021 due to Covid), replacing them with new role-based certifications.

And yet this week, barely six months out from its retirement, I passed the 70-413 exam for the MCSE: Core Infrastructure certification. Why would I want to achieve a certification that is going the way of the Dodo?! Here’s my reasoning.

Firstly, there was an element of unfinished business. I hate to let a certification expire that can be used as a stepping stone to a higher qualification. The MCSA is compulsory to achieve the MCSE. Having passed the MCSA exam a few years ago, it was always my intention to continue that learning to the MCSE as soon as possible. Of course life, work, and more pressing certs get in the way, but I just really wanted to round out the natural progression from MCSA to MCSE.

Second, I’m still at a stage in my career where I feel certification matters. The MCSE has always been a decent addition to any sysadmin’s CV, and I don’t think that will change too much over the coming years. It will lose a bit of its gloss as more and more businesses turn to Cloud, but the MCSE Core Infrastructure still demonstrates a solid understanding of core concepts that extend beyond just on-premises Microsoft technology. As somebody who works in the clinical sector, there are zero plans for our hospital to migrate to the cloud in the near future, and I doubt we are alone in that outlook. Whether an on-prem focus is good for my career or not is a discussion for another day, but in my field the MCSE will continue to be well regarded and sought after by employers.

Third, the MCSE is very relevant to my day-to-day job, and to any future design changes we will implement, including any migration to Cloud. While a certification is a nice achievement to have, I also appreciate the structured learning that it can provide. There are many takeaways from the MCSE that I will be implementing in my current work environment, and for that alone the MCSE has been very valuable to me.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, this feels like the last chance to achieve a primarily on-premises Microsoft certification. What really convinced me that completing the MCSE isn’t a complete waste of time was looking at the content of the new role-based Microsoft certificates. What replaces the MCSE, that focuses on Windows Server, Active Directory, site design etc, that proves my skills in these areas? The answer is nothing. Neither the Azure Administrator or Solutions Architect certs have anything in the way of traditional on-premises Microsoft technology. Microsoft is all about Azure now, and Azure only. There really isn’t anything comparable, and that’s why I believe the MCSE will retain it’s value, particularly since time is running out to achieve it.

So for anybody with an MCSA who hasn’t taken the MCSE, I strongly advise you to do so. Combined with relevant work experience, it wasn’t a particularly difficult exam to complete, and at this stage there are many resources out there to help. I recommend the below Udemy course as being one of the best:

And for the record, as this was something that confused me even after my exam was passed: the official Microsoft 70-413 Exam Ref book is wrong, you only require the 70-413 exam to gain the MCSE, not the “Part 2” 70-414 exam as well! The below is the clearest diagram I could find, showing that any of the electives alone are enough.

So, here it is…as dated as the old design looks, I still proudly display my MCSE badge!

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