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Why the MCSE is for Starters

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So you've earned your MCSE. Now what? It's time to get really busy. If you plan on moving up, up, and away, you'll need to add a few more certifications to your repertoire. In this first in a series of articles on passing certification exams, Joseph Phillips examines the most popular certifications you should consider.
Joseph Phillips writes a weekly column on professional certification for InformIT. See all of Joe's articles on Joe's author page.

Build on Your MCSE Foundation

There are 421,327 MCSEs—which one are you? Are you one of the folks who started their certification trek with Windows NT 3.51? Windows NT 4.0? Or are you one of the few who have gone on to pass their Windows 2000 MCSE requirements? Whichever you are, congratulations on completing your certification. Now for the bad news: it's not enough.

Perhaps it isn't really bad news; it's a realization of the acceptance of the title in the industry. After all, an MCSE is practically expected in any network administrator position. Any way you look at it, the MCSE is for starters as our networks grow and users become savvier. You'll be needing more letters behind your name than the amount of letters in your name if you plan to move up, move on, or move over.

Why? Take a look at the number of MCSEs—421,327. Picture it this way: if we could somehow gather all of the MCSEs and shuffle them into Mile High Stadium, the Cleveland Browns Stadium, Tennessee's Adelphia Coliseum, and the Baltimore Ravens Stadium, we'd only be able to fit about half of the MCSEs in. And yes, you have to leave your shirt on—and sorry, there aren't any cheerleaders. (Oh! Can't you imagine all the brains milling around in the parking lot talking about the benefits of Active Directory in tailgate parties?)

I bet half of the folks at this four-stadium MCSE gathering would be content with their MCSE title and would make no plans to get additional certifications. The other half, the half I want to be with, would be eager to expand their brains, learn new technologies, and happily move onto more exciting challenges. Which half of these pros would you be in? Would you stand out in this crowd? Would you lead the pack or hang around the edges?

Still wondering why you need to add certifications? Think about the networks you support. Do you only use Microsoft products? Most networks and servers I've seen have products in place other than just those born in Redmond, Washington. Why not get certified with these other vendors as well?

If you are looking to advance your career (and who isn't?), consider leveraging your current certifications for new ones. Use the knowledge you have, the study skills you've developed, and your test-taking abilities to advance yourself. The following sections describe some certifications you should consider adding to your MCSE foundation.

Microsoft Certified Database Administrator

Know SQL? The Microsoft Certified Database Administrator title is for those folks who implement, administer, design, and create databases.

This certification, like the MCSE credential, requires you that you know your stuff. You'll have to pass three core exams and an elective to obtain this title. The exams are Windows 2000 Server (70-215 or 70-240), two exams on SQL (SQL 7.0 or SQL 2000), and one elective exam.

While this certification may not be right for everyone, if you've got a grasp on Windows 2000 and are working with SQL on a regular basis, you should investigate this title.

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