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Roadmap to Success: MCSA Server 2008

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Roadmap to Success is a series of posts designed to help learners better understand certification pathways, career opportunities associated with those certifications, and next steps beyond certification.

UPDATED: We updated this article April 11, 2017, to reflect relevant changes to the Microsoft MCSA: Windows Server 2008 certification curriculum.

CRITICAL UPDATE: Microsoft has restructured its certifications. The MCSA: Windows Server 2008 certification is scheduled to be formally retired on July 31, 2017. After that date, Microsoft will no longer offer exams or certifications for Windows Server 2008. For more information on Microsoft’s restructure, please read our What to Expect from the New Microsoft Certification Paths post.

Microsoft’s Server products, particularly Server 2012, dominate the industry. However, there are many environments that continue to operate on Server 2008, making IT pros who have demonstrated expertise administering Server 2008 highly desirable among employers. IT pros need to validate their Server 2008 experience with the MCSA Server 2008 certification. Generally, this certification will qualify learners for positions as network or systems administrators, or computer network specialists.

Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate: Windows Server 2008 (MCSA Server 2008)
The Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) Windows Server 2008 certification is designed to test and validate the skills and knowledge necessary to install and configure, administer, and manage Windows Server 2008. The MCSA Server 2008 is made up of three exams, all of which are covered by CBT Nuggets training:

Typically, learners pursuing this certification path will have some familiarity with Windows Server and experience working in an enterprise environment. The MCSA is considered an intermediate-level certification but has no prerequisite training or certifications, so learners new to the industry can start here if they are motivated and ready to study!

Exam Details
The following exam details are applicable for each exam that makes up the MCSA Server 2008 certification.

Time allotted for exam: 120 minutes (per exam)
Number of questions: 40-60* (per exam)
Passing score: 700** (per exam)
Question types: Multiple choice; multiple choice/multiple answer; scenario
Exam registration: Microsoft Learning or Pearson Vue
Exam cost: $165 (USD) per exam
Skills Measured: Each exam registration page on the Microsoft website provides a list of Skills Measured (which is a free resource) to guide your study and preparation.

*Microsoft does not publish the exact number of questions associated with its exams. Therefore, the number of questions a learner will see varies.
**Because the number of questions varies, it is not necessarily true that learners must earn a simple 70% to pass the exam.

Microsoft exams have a reputation for being challenging. Many learners find they have to take an exam more than once to achieve a successful outcome. Fortunately, Microsoft is aware of the level of challenge associated with their exams, and often provides an Exam Replay, allowing learners to retake exams at a fraction of the cost. Please note that the Exam Replay may not always be available. As of this post’s publication date, each of the exams associated with the MCSA: Windows Server 2008 certification offers the option to include Exam Replay, but that may change. Learners should research Exam Replay availability to avoid missing out on the opportunity.


Neither Microsoft Specialist nor MCSA certifications expire. No recertification or continuing education is necessary to keep Specialist or MCSA certifications valid. MCSA certifications are, effectively, lifetime certifications that are valid as long as the technology exists.

The Next Step
Many learners who complete the MCSA Server 2008 certification will choose to continue within the Microsoft universe. Most learners choose to upgrade their MCSA: Windows Server 2008 to the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 certification. To upgrade, learners need only take one exam: Upgrading your Skills to MCSA Windows Server 2012 (70-417).

Most learners who successfully earn the MCSA: Windows Server 2008 will continue on the same track, advancing their certification to the expert level with the MCSE. Under Microsoft’s new certification structure, earning the MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification requires that learners pass just one additional exam from a pool of 10 exam options. CBT Nuggets offers training for seven of the 10 course options: 70-532: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions70-533: Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions70-534: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions70-413: Designing and Implementing a Server Infrastructure70-414: Implementing an Advanced Server Infrastructure70-246: Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud, and 70-247: Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud.

Career Considerations provides a helpful salary guide to help learners determine appropriate pay scales for job opportunities associated with the MCSA Server 2008 certification. Depending on professional experience, reports a range of salaries for employees holding an MCSA certification between $41,800 and $135,115. Roles that are common for those holding an MCSA certification include systems administrator, systems engineer, network administrator, Windows system administrator, IT manager, IT director, and more.

Microsoft Certifications
Microsoft certifications are laid out as a pyramid, with each level of certification leading learners to higher, more specialized, complex certifications. At the base of the Microsoft pyramid, learners develop the foundation of knowledge with the MTA (Microsoft Technology Associate). The next level is the MCSA (Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate) and includes many of the most popular certifications offered by Microsoft such as Server 2012, Office 365, and Azure. Next, Microsoft offers several specialization certifications, including the MCTS (Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist) and MS (Microsoft Specialist). And finally, the MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solution Expert) represents the highest level of certification offered by Microsoft.

Concluding Thoughts
Though Microsoft offers Windows Server 2012 and Server 2016, Server 2008 continues to be a critical product across the IT industry. It serves as an excellent foundation for developing skills and knowledge that will prove useful to learners as they seek out professional advancement.

Watch. Learn. Conquer MCSA Windows Server 2008!


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