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Roadmap to Success: MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure

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.

IT professionals who have the skills, knowledge, and certifications to demonstrate their expertise in managing, administering, and designing cloud and infrastructure have an undeniable edge in the IT space. Generally, the MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification qualifies learners for roles such as system administrator, network administrator, network engineer, IT support specialist, systems engineer, IT manager, and more.

Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Cloud Platform and Infrastructure

The Microsoft MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification validates the skills and expertise needed to run a highly efficient and modern data center, including cloud technologies, identity management, systems management, storage, and networking.

In order to be eligible for the Microsoft MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, learners must first earn an Associate-level (MCSA) certification. Most typically, learners earn one of four certifications in preparation for the MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure:

After earning a prerequisite certification, learners must take one additional exam to earn the MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification which, like all expert-level certifications under Microsoft’s new certification structure, allows learners to choose from a pool of exams to customize a certification to their needs. Learners must pass one of the following exams to earn the MCSE certification:

It may be helpful to note that the MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure effectively replaced the following MCSE certifications when they were retired March 31, 2017, as part of  Microsoft’s certification restructure:

  • MCSE: Server Infrastructure
  • MCSE: Private Cloud

Typically, learners pursuing an expert-level certification should have three (3) or more years of experience working with Microsoft products, particularly Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2016, and/or Microsoft Azure.

Exam Details

The following exam details are applicable for each exam in the pool of options that make up the MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification.

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: Pearson Vue

Please note that MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure 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 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 on a case-by-case basis.

**Because the number of questions varies, it is not necessarily true that learners must earn a simple 70 percent 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 MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure include an Exam Replay, but that may change. Learners should research Exam Replay availability to avoid missing out on the opportunity.

Recertification

Microsoft MCSE certifications are valid for three years. According to Microsoft, recertification exams are currently available for all MCSE and MCSD specialties. Recertification exams cover material from the same exams taken to originally earn the credential, with particular emphasis on the most recent technology and process changes. With the new elective exam structure for continuing education, learners have the opportunity to take an elective exam of their choosing each year to “re-earn” the certification.

The Next Step

The MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure is an expert-level certification, but as a vendor-specific certification, learners can choose to diversify their resumes or delve more deeply into additional Microsoft certifications as next steps.

Microsoft Certifications

Within the Microsoft universe, the MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure is built on the foundation of several MCSA-level certifications, including Cloud Platform, Linux on Azure, Windows Server 2012, and/or Windows Server 2016. From this foundation, any of the following related certifications would be viable options for learners looking to expand their Microsoft resume:

Learners who earn the MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification are often sysadmins, and as system administrators, there is frequently a need for knowledge and skills related to a variety of products outside the Microsoft universe. SysAdmins often consider pursuing the following certifications:

Career Considerations

Payscale.com provides a helpful salary guide to help learners determine appropriate pay scales for job opportunities associated with MCSE certifications. Payscale.com reports a range of salaries between $47,428 and $146,157 for IT pros who hold any MCSE certification, including MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure. Roles that are common for those holding an MCSE certification include IT manager, IT director, systems administrator, and senior systems engineer.

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, IT professionals develop the foundation of knowledge with the MTA (Microsoft Technology Associate). The next level is the MCSA (Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate) which includes many of the most popular certifications among IT professionals that are offered by Microsoft, including Windows Server 2012/2016, Office 365, and Azure. Finally, the MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solution Expert) and MCSD (Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer) certifications represent the highest level of certification offered by Microsoft and provide learners the opportunity to develop specializations related to MCSA-level content.

As Microsoft describes it, the new MCSE and MCSD certifications (MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, MCSE: Mobility, MCSE: Data Management and Analytics, MCSE: Productivity, and MCSD: AppBuilder) are aligned to Centers of Excellence, used by the Microsoft Partner Network to identify technical competencies that are widely recognizable by both Microsoft partners and customers. These credentials do not have a recertification requirement. Instead, the achievement date signals how you keep up with changes to the technology.

Each year, you have the opportunity to renew the certification by passing an exam from the list of electives, demonstrating your investment in broadening or deepening your skills in a given Center of Excellence. Each time you earn the certification, a new certification entry is added to your transcript. This process replaces the existing recertification requirement of taking a specific recertification exam every two years (MCSD) or every three years (MCSE) to prevent your certification from going inactive. Learn more about the new Microsoft certification structure.

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

Concluding Thoughts

The MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification represents the expertise you need for an evolving IT industry landscape. As more organizations turn to the cloud, the demand for IT pros with the experience and skills needed to effectively manage systems and infrastructure to support cloud services is soaring. The MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification will open up career opportunities and provide you with the skills and knowledge to take full advantage of those opportunities!

Watch. Learn. Conquer the MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure!

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