Top 12 Questions About the New Streamlined Certification Paths

Larry Kaye

11/09/16 Update - Thanks for your feedback on this post.  As it is another common question, I wanted to add the following to this living FAQ:

 

Q: What should I do if I have an older MCSE or MCSD certification that goes inactive prior to March 31, 2017, when the credentials are being retired?

A: In association with the March 2017 retirement of the older MCSE and MCSD specialties, we have adjusted transcripts so that any individuals that had an active MCSE or MCSD on Sept 26, 2016 will preserve that status after March 31, 2017.  If your MCSE or MCSD inactive date was prior to Sept 26, 2016, you will need to recertify (and, thus, reactivate) before March 31, 2017 to maintain that credential.  This can be done via the corresponding recertification exam or, for a select number of MCSE credentials, through the Recertify Through MVA option:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/learning/recertification-virtual-academy.aspx

 

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My thanks to all MCPs who have provided early and thorough feedback on the new streamlined certification paths.  For your convenience, I have compiled a list of popular blog post questions and answers here.  Additional questions and feedback is welcomed.

 

Please also note that this blog entry includes a PDF with visualizations of all certification paths - you'll find it just before the comments section.

 

 

1.      Q: How does the retirement of MCSE/MCSD certifications released prior to September 2016 impact my MPN Partner status?

A: As long as your current MCSE/MCSD certifications are active on the date of MPN renewal, you will still fulfill your competency's current technical requirements.  Remember that you can use the corresponding recertification exam for all previous MCSE/MCSD specialties or the Recert through MVA option for a select number of specialties (MCSE: SharePoint, Messaging, Communication, Data Platform, and Business Intelligence)

 

2.      Q: When with the new MCSA/MCSE/MCSD certifications be reflected in the MPN Competencies?

A: Microsoft Learning is working with the MPN team to incorporate these new certifications into the lists of competency technical requirements starting in 2017.

 

3.      Q: What is the difference between "recertifying" and "re-earning"?

A: For all previous MCSE/MCSD certifications, you were required to recertify to keep the credentials in the Active section of your transcript.  For the new MCSE/MCSD certifications, you do not need to recertify - the earned credentials will remain in the Active section of your transcript.  If you wish to, you have the option to earn the MCSE/MCSD certification every year, to help you demonstrate growth in Microsoft product knowledge.

 

4.      Q: Why are we moving to an annual cycle to re-earn our certifications?

A: The cadence of changes in the Microsoft products and services is much quicker than it was even a few years ago.  With some products like Microsoft Azure adding features on a weekly basis, demonstration of continued technical competence requires a much faster pace than every three years.

 

5.      Q: Why are recertification exams being retired?

A: Recertification exams have largely focused on reviewing skills that you have already proven, rather than changes in the products and services.  The choice of elective exams allows you to focus on the newest technologies, in the specialty area of interest.

 

6.      Q: Doesn't the move to earning an MCSE with a single exam beyond my MCSA lessen the value of this expert-level of certification?

A: No, because the recommended annual cadence will result in demonstrating a better level of technical mastery than taking a single recertification exam every three years.

 

7.      Q: What if I have already exhausted all of the available elective exams?  What will I take to re-earn my certification in 2017?

A: The Microsoft Learning team will be refreshing each of the elective exam pools several times each calendar year, to ensure that candidates have options to re-earn the certifications.

 

8.      Q: Can I retake an exam that I have already passed to meet my elective requirement in a given calendar year?

A: At this time, you can only fulfill elective exam requirements by taking a unique exam from the list.  The Microsoft Learning team is developing a solution where, for a select number of exams associated with rapidly-changing technologies (e.g., Microsoft Azure), individuals will be able to retake these exams every calendar year - we will update the MCP community about this feature, when more information is available.

 

9.      Q: Shouldn't Exam X or Certification Y also be included in your new, streamlined paths?

A: Early feedback from our MCP community has identified a few additional needed changes to our certification paths.  In summary:

a.      MCSA: Windows Server 2012 is now an option to earning MCSE: Productivity - this is necessary to maintain parity with the older MCSE: Communication, SharePoint, and Messaging paths

b.      Exam 534: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions has now been added to the elective exam pool for MCSD: App Builder - this is an exam that is applicable to both developers and administrators

 

10.   Q: The new MCSE/MCSD specialty names do not reflect the latest product versions?  How do I show what particular skills I've mastered?

A: The previous MCSE/MCSD specialties (e.g., MCSE: Server Infrastructure) also do not include product names and versions in their titles.  To show the details of your skills to your colleagues and employers, you would have to share your MCP transcript - this will remain an important step with the new certifications.

 

11.   Q: I already earned my MCSA and took one or more qualifying elective exams - why don't I see the new MCSE certification on my transcript?

A: Please note that, in order to earn the new MCSE/MCSD specialties for 2016, you must either have:

a.      An active qualifying MCSE/MCSD certification, OR

b.      Passed a qualifying elective exams since January 1, 2016

 

12.   Q: When I go to the Microsoft Learning website, I don't see information on the new certifications - what should I do?

A: Our apologies, but the propagation of the new certification paths to regional web pages of the Microsoft Learning website is experiencing a slight delay.  In the interim, please reference the PDF document which provides visual representations of all certification paths, as well as details on how to earn these credentials.

 

Attachment: Microsoft Streamlined Certification Paths.pdf
Comments
  • cdweb
    | |

    @Larry, so #3 is a bit confusing.   So are you saying that the MCSE credential that is earned becomes perpetually active and that it's OPTIONAL to "re-earn" the same MCSE every year?  If so, it sounds like it's kind of going back to the "good ol' days" when an IT Pro could basically sit on a certification without any real need to progress because a MCSE meant the same thing whether or not it was 2003, 2000, or  NT4.  Sure, the whole MCITP / MCTS fiasco kind of helped break that up, but the recertification / continuing education requirement actually put a defined lifecycle to the certification.  If the "opportunity" to earn the MCSE every year is optional, I might have a question as to how many folks would hop on that yearly cadence, especially if they hold MCSE in multiple tracks.

    I can't say I can argue with you on the impact of the change rate of the Azure and Office 365 services and the change rate of on-premise technologies like the new System Center release.  That said, however, in thinking about Azure services, Office 365, and impact of cloud services in hybrid datacenter deployment on our environments, it would be beneficial to understand exactly what MSL's plan for providing solid opportunities for exam prep would be in relation to the technologies affected by this high rate of change  - be it through consistently up to date MVA content, online labs, Azure credits for current MCPs, surprise return of TechNet subscriptions for MCPs, etc.  There is currently a pretty big lag in the amount of time that new technologies are announced to the amount of time that learning or "how-to" content is released in a readily consumable format such as video-based learning on MVA.  

    I look forward to your response

  • 401476ce-00ec-439f-a66f-682c5f755261

    Must say I'm still confused. I have 331 and 332 and need to start studying for my next exam...

    Do i do 346(O365 Identities) and will that exam still be valid in a year from now?

    Is there any point in rushing 346 and 347 before Jan 2017?

    Do i rather do SharePoint 2016?

    I Try and do 1 exam a year but don't know if I should wait.

    Also, i noticed the Exam packs has finished end of September, is there a way for us to get an idea of any specials coming up like a free shot or 4 retries?

  • Thaek
    | |

    Hi Larry, thanks for this extensive FAQ, I think this should clear up most of the questions for many people. I still have three questions though:

    1) Now that MCSA: Windows Server 2012 is an option to earning MCSE: Productivity, this it mean that MCSA: Windows Server 2016 will be an option as well?

    2) Several people brought up that it is unfair to early adapters that they have to re-certify all their retiring MCSEs if they don't want them to be in the inactive section until it moves to legacy -  just because they took the exam a few months earlier than their colleagues. You mentioned that you are looking into options to address this problem. Anything to share yet?

    3) When exactly will a certification become legacy. You are saying with the "retirement of the corresponding technologies". For the On-Premise products it's pretty clear cut (End of extended support), but what about MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect? I don't think Microsoft will ever retire "Azure".

  • Thaek
    | |

    @401476ce-00ec-439f-a66f-682c5f755261: From my understanding: If you have 331 and 332 and don't have any other exams yet. My suggestion would be to either attain MCSA: Windows Server 2012 (3 Exams) or MCSA: Office 365 (2 Exams) to get a MCSE certification (Maybe MCSA W2016 would also be an option, see my question to Larry), the decision should be made based on weather you are more an On-Premise or more a Cloud Admin/Engineer.

    If you pass all the exams before 31. March 2017 this will give you both MCSE: SharePoint and MCSE: Productivity:

    If you pass the exams after 31. March 2017 this will give you only the MCSE: Productivity.

    Because you have already passed both SharePoint 2013 exams there is imho no point in passing the SharePoint 2016 exam right now. I would use it to re-earn the MCSE in another calendar year (e.g. 2017 / 2018).

    The exams required for the MCSA certifications are pretty fixed, so I wouldn't worry about it being no longer available in a year.

  • L.Taylor
    | |

    @Larry I'm in the same boat as many when it comes to why the change. But I'm slightly confused here.

    I currently hold the MCSE: Productivity title now as I have MCSA Server 2012 and the 70-331. I'm taking the 70-332 in December to get my MCSE: SharePoint 2013 title.

    My questions are as follows:

    1. MCSE: Productivity how do I show to my boss that this is in fact the MCSE for SharePoint? Productivity means nothing to anyone at face value.

    2. When I pass my final exam (70-332) will my certification stay active forever?

    3. What if I want to update my MCSE: Productivity for the year but DO NOT want to sit any of the pointless electives that have nothing to do with my line of work or interest. I mean SKYPE..... we don't ever use that where I work nor will I ever want to touch it.

  • Robert Stuczynski
    | |

    why only this: "Recert through MVA option for a select number of specialties (MCSE: SharePoint, Messaging, Communication, Data Platform, and Business Intelligence)"

  • Bryan Cook
    | |

    I share similar questions and concerns as others who have posted and are partially though earning a certification.  I've been following the path for the MCSD: Universal Windows Platform certification, passing 483 in February 2016 and 354 in October 2016, (just a few days ago!).  After reviewing the changes, it appears the path I should transition to is that of the MCSD: App Builder certification.  I can pass 357 and earn both the MCSA: Universal Windows Platform and MCSD: App Builder certifications.  I have the following questions/concerns regarding this path of action ...

    1) What is the time frame I have to complete Exam 357: Developing Mobile Apps (beta)?  Do I have to pass this exam by the end of 2016?

    2) Assuming I do have to pass the exam by end of 2016, I’m concerned with the beta status of Exam 357.  According to the website, “if you pass it, you will receive full credit toward applicable certifications, but you will not receive a score report or pass/fail notification until 8 – 12 weeks following the conclusion of the beta period.”  After taking the exam, I have no idea when I’ll receive my results.  What happens if I’m told I’ve failed the exam sometime in 2017?  Will I have to complete another elective exam?  Will I have to retake Exam 483?

    3) Do I still have the option of acquiring the MCSD: Universal Windows Platform certification by the end of 2016?  Although it’s scheduled to be phased out, I could complete Exam 355 by the end of 2016 and not have to deal with the inconveniences of a beta exam.  I’m hoping in doing so I’d be grandfathered into a MCSD: App Builder for 2016 and could re-earn the MCSD: App Builder certification for 2017 by passing an elective exam.  Is this an option for me?

    @Larry Can you or someone else address my questions/speak to my concerns, please?  Thanks!

  • Thaek
    | |

    Answering some of your questions as best as I can:

    @L.Taylor:

    1)  If you pass 70-332 before 31 March 2017 you will get both MCSE: SharePoint and MCSE: Productivity. So you can show your boss both. But I totally agree with you, the new MCSE's do no longer align with the actual needs of the industry and I and many others believe it's very much a huge step backwards. To show your boss that you actually are now certified on SharePoint you need to share your transcript. Which you can do either via PDF/Physically or the Transcript Sharing Tool.

    2) Your MCSE: SharePoint will stay active until the retirement of the corresponding technologies. Which is end of the extended support of the product. Your MCSE: Productivity will stay active forever (or Microsoft announced something new), but will have a year attached to it, so the value will diminish overtime.

    3) If there is no exam that makes sense for you - don't update your certification. As a SharePoint Admin I will only sit a new exam whenever there is a new SharePoint version. You are not forced to update every year.

    @Bryan Cook:

    1) For the new MCSD/MCSA certifications there is currently no time limit, you can pass them whenever you want.

    2) Since 70-357 is not en elective, but a must exam for the MCSA you will have to take it again if you have failed it. You will definitely not need to retake 70-483, since after passing an exam you can never take it again. The only question that I cannot answer you is whether will earn the MCSE for 2016 or 2017, since you passed your Elective (70-354) in 2016 and than pass the required MCSA only later in 2017 - My guess would be 2016 - Larry can you clear this up?

    3) Yes you can still acquire the MCSD: Universal Windows Platform until March 2017. BUT you will only be grandfathered into the MCSD: App Builder until the End of 2016. (Unless Microsoft changes it's mind)

    To summarize your options are:

    Option 1:

    Take 70-357 whenever you want will give you:

    70-483, 70-357--> MCSA: Universal Windows Platform

    MCSA:UWP+70-354 Elective --> MCSE: Windows App for 2016 (Or year you pass 354)

    Option 2:

    Take 70-355 until the end of 2016 will give you:

    70-483, 70-354, 70-355--> MCSD: Universal Windows Platform

    Grandfathered --> MCSE: Windows App for 2016

    If you are willing to take both exams there is also a adventurous third option that will give you 4 certifications:

    Option 3:

    Take 70-357 until the end of 2016

    70-483, 70-357--> MCSA: Universal Windows Platform

    MCSA:UWP+70-354 Elective --> MCSE: Windows App for 2016

    Take 70-355 between 1. January 2017 and 31. March 2017:

    70-483, 70-354, 70-355 --> MCSD: Universal Windows Platform

    MCSA:UWP+70-355 Elective --> MCSE: Windows App for 2017

    The bad thing about this option is that if you fail 70-357 (Which because of beta you won't now until after the fact) you will not be able to get grandfathered into the MCSE: Windows App anymore...

    Not an easy decision to make. :-)

    @Larry: Please correct me if there is something wrong about what I'm saying.

  • Thaek
    | |

    In my last comment instead of MCSE: Windows App I meant MCSD: App Builder

  • L.Taylor
    | |

    @Thaek What do you mean you downloaded the exam? I really hope they section of the types of "Productivity" in the MCSE title

  • L.Taylor
    | |

    Should also mention mines a "Charter" do you have this also?

  • Larry Kaye
    | |

    @cdweb - By grouping the previous MCSE specialties into Centers of Excellence, we hope to mitigate the challenge of recertifying on multiple certifications and all you to focus on just taking the exams that matter most to you.  With respect to rapidly changing technologies such as Azure and Office 365, we are moving towards a more frequent refresh cycle for exams, practice tests, and courseware.  You will start seeing those changes reflected on the web site by the end of the year.

    @401476  - One of the principles behind our streamlined MCSE paths was to give you more choices in how you attain your certification.  Looks like Thaek has already provided some suggestions (thanks, Thaek) but feel free to respond if you need further clarification

    @Thaek - Great questions - let's address each:

    1) Q: Now that MCSA: Windows Server 2012 is an option to earning MCSE: Productivity, this it mean that MCSA: Windows Server 2016 will be an option as well?

    A: That's an interesting point - I will review that option with the content team responsible for our Productivity exams.

    2) Q: Several people brought up that it is unfair to early adapters that they have to re-certify all their retiring MCSEs if they don't want them to be in the inactive section until it moves to legacy -  just because they took the exam a few months earlier than their colleagues. You mentioned that you are looking into options to address this problem. Anything to share yet?

    A: Not quite yet - hope to have more to share within the next 1-2 weeks.

    3) Q: When exactly will a certification become legacy. You are saying with the "retirement of the corresponding technologies". For the On-Premise products it's pretty clear cut (End of extended support), but what about MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect? I don't think Microsoft will ever retire "Azure".

    A: You are correct - The MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect certification will have continued relevance for quite a long period of time and will stay in the Active portion of the transcript for the foreseeable future.

  • Larry Kaye
    | |

    @LTaylor - Answers to your questions below:

    1. Q: MCSE: Productivity how do I show to my boss that this is in fact the MCSE for SharePoint? Productivity means nothing to anyone at face value.

    A: I encourage you to share the MCSE: Productivity web page with your manager.  To provide specific details on the skills you validated to earn any certification, you will have to show your transcript.

    2. Q: When I pass my final exam (70-332) will my certification stay active forever?

    A:  As we will be retiring the MCSE: SharePoint certification, all individuals who have an active status at the time of its retirement (31-March, 2017) will keep the certification on the Active portion of its transcript.  It will remain in the Active portion until such time that the product version that was tested (in this case, SharePoint 2013) is no longer supported by Microsoft.

    3. Q: What if I want to update my MCSE: Productivity for the year but DO NOT want to sit any of the pointless electives that have nothing to do with my line of work or interest. I mean SKYPE..... we don't ever use that where I work nor will I ever want to touch it.

  • Larry Kaye
    | |

    @Brian - Looks like Thaek stepped you through a lot of options (thanks again, Thaek).  My suggestion would be to take Exam 355 by the end of 2016, as its coverage of enterprise development does have unique value from Exam 357.  Then, take Exam 357 to re-earn the MCSD: App Builder cert for 2017.

  • Larry Kaye
    | |

    @Robert - The Recertify Through MVA program was limited to these five MCSE specialties based on the availability of complete MVA training paths for these technologies.  While we will continue to evaluate other exam alternatives to earning credit towards certification, the current Recertify Through MVA program will end on 31-March, 2017.

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