MCSA Certification Requirements


To become a Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA), one must complete and pass four Microsoft certified exams. The exams required include two exams on networking systems, one exam on client operating systems and one elective exam. Certified proof of technical and software skills can help individuals trying to find a career in information systems technology and assist seasoned professionals in acquiring new skills.

Certification vs. Specialization

  • According to the Microsoft website, a Microsoft certification validates competency in a Microsoft system or software for specific job role. In comparison, a Microsoft specialization proves competency in a specific, Microsoft-based technical area.
    Microsoft Learning also states that specializations are not more advanced than certifications; they are simply more focused.


  • Microsoft recommends that those seeking certification obtain a minimum of 12 months of experience with desktop computers, network operating systems and network infrastructures prior to taking examinations. This background knowledge is the only suggested requirement. You don't need to have any formal training or a degree in computing or information technology to register for MCSA exams.


  • Microsoft exams are administered by the American testing company Prometric. The price to take a Microsoft exam is typically around $125 each. Microsoft recommends contacting Prometric for more details about certification exam prices in your country or region.

Required & Elective Exams

  • The two exams that are required to pass in order to achieve MCSA Certification are Managing and Maintaining a Windows Server 2003 Environment and Implementing, Managing, and Maintaining a Windows Server 2003 Network Infrastructure. One of four client operating systems exams is also required. Upon completion of the three required tests, a choice of one of 28 elective exams is then required. These include Configuring Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 and Developing Business Process and Integration Solutions Using Microsoft BizTalk Server.

Certification Upgrade Paths

  • Within the Microsoft Learning system, achieving one certification qualifies you to earn additional certifications easier by eliminating some required exams. This allows students to expand their certification portfolio based on the frame of reference built during previous certification achievements.

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  • Photo Credit "MS Coffee Mug" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: Saad.Akhtar (Saad Akhtar) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.
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