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Roadmap to Success: MCSA: Cloud Platform

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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 on September 19, 2017, to reflect relevant changes to the Cloud Platform certification curriculum.

With the launch of Microsoft’s new certification structure, IT professionals have an abundance of new options for certification, such as the MCSA: Cloud Platform. As more organizations are relying on the cloud for scalability, flexibility, cost savings, and improved collaboration, cloud administrators are increasingly in demand. Generally, the MCSA: Cloud Platform certification qualifies learners for roles including systems administrator, IT manager, cloud administrator, cloud architect, systems engineer, cloud & infrastructure engineer, and more.

Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): Cloud Platform

The Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): Cloud Platform certification is designed to demonstrate your expertise in Microsoft cloud-related technologies to reduce IT costs and deliver more value for modern businesses. Earning an MCSA: Cloud Platform certification can be accomplished by passing two exams, of your choosing, from a pool of exam options:

Generally, learners interested in pursuing the MCSA: Cloud Platform certification should have one to two years of professional experience, including experience designing, programming, implementing, automating, and monitoring Microsoft Azure solutions. Learners should also have one or more years of web development experience (.NET, PHP, Node.js, or Python), an understanding of basic networking concepts, and experience working with virtualization and virtual machines.

The MCSA is considered an intermediate-level certification but has no formal prerequisite training or certifications.

Exam Details

Because of Microsoft’s certification and exam updates, Azure has had significant technology changes. The exams associated with the MCSA: Cloud Platform certification reflect the technological changes, even if the official exam objectives currently do not.

Time allotted for exam: 2 hours (120 minutes) per exam
Number of Questions: 40-60 per exam
Passing score: 700 per exam
Question types: Active screen; Build list; Case study; Drag and drop; Hot area; Multiple choice/Best answer; Multiple choice/Single answer; Multiple choice/Multiple answer; Short answer
Learn more about Microsoft exam formats and question types.
Exam registration: Microsoft Learning or Pearson Vue
Please note that MCSA: Cloud Platform certification exams may be available for online proctored delivery.
Exam cost: $165 (USD) per exam
Skills Measured: Each exam registration page on the Microsoft website provides a list of Skills Measured (free resources) to guide your study and preparation.

Many learners find they have to take an exam more than once to achieve a successful outcome. Fortunately, Microsoft is aware of this fact and often provides an Exam Replay, allowing learners to retake exams at a fraction of the cost. As of this post’s publication date, each of the exams associated with the MCSA: Cloud Platform certification offer the option to include Exam Replay. Learners should research Exam Replay availability to avoid missing out on the opportunity.

Recertification

Microsoft’s MCSA certifications do not expire, meaning no recertification or continuing education is necessary to keep your MCSA certification valid. MCSA certifications are valid for the lifetime of the technology composing the certification.

It’s important to note that under Microsoft’s certification structure, earning an expert-level certification (MCSE) can be accomplished by passing one additional exam, of your choosing, from a pool of exam options. All MCSE and MCSD certifications available after September 26, 2016, do not expire and will remain in the Active section of your transcript indefinitely.

The Next Step

Most learners who successfully earn the MCSA: Cloud Platform 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 11 exam options. CBT Nuggets offers training for seven of the 11 course options: 70-532: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions, 70-533: Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions, 70-534: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions, 70-413: Designing and Implementing a Server Infrastructure, 70-414: Implementing an Advanced Server Infrastructure, 70-246: Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud, and 70-247: Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud.

Learners sometimes choose to supplement their product-specific expertise with further Microsoft certifications. Often, learners opt for:

Career Considerations

Payscale.com and SimplyHired.com are excellent resources for helping learners determine average pay scales for job opportunities associated with roles in IT. The MCSA: Cloud Platform certification is typically held by system administrators or system engineers. SimplyHired.com reports an average salary for those holding an MCSA at $61,753. Payscale.com reports a broader range of salaries, dependent on professional experience, at $44,655 to $135,186. Common roles or titles for those who hold any MCSA certification include systems administrator, IT manager, senior systems administrator, and network administrator.

Microsoft Certifications

Microsoft certifications are laid out as a pyramid, with each level of certification leading learners to higher, more complex certifications. At the base of the Microsoft pyramid, IT professionals develop the foundation of knowledge with the MTA (Microsoft Technology Associate). The next level is the MCSA (Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate) and MCSD (Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer), which include many of the most popular IT certifications offered by Microsoft, including Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2016, Office 365, SQL 2016, and Windows 10. Finally, the MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solution Expert) represents the highest level of certification offered by Microsoft and provides learners the opportunity to develop specializations related to MCSA-level content.

Begin exploring other Microsoft training and certification options to open up even more professional development opportunities.

Concluding Thoughts

The MCSA: Cloud Platform certification sets you up for a career in cloud technologies, a field that is rapidly expanding. As cloud technology grows and evolves, you can open up amazing job opportunities by earning relevant certifications, creating a career path that will be secure and rewarding now and in the future. Launch yourself into the cloud with the MCSA: Cloud Platform certification!

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