Certifications / Microsoft

Roadmap to Success: MCSE: Productivity

by Karin Klinger
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Published on April 25, 2017

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 must have the skills and knowledge to support and administer a variety of products that enable end users to conduct business. The MCSE Productivity certification gives IT pros the opportunity to certify an array of skills related to some of Microsoft's most popular products, including SharePoint, Skype for Business, and Exchange Server. Generally, the MCSE Productivity certification qualifies learners for positions such as senior systems administrator, IT manager, systems administrator, senior systems engineer, and more.

MCSE: Productivity

The Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) Productivity certification affirms that learners have the skills needed to move organizations to the cloud, increase user productivity and flexibility, reduce data loss, and improve data security. The MCSE: Productivity, like all expert-level certifications under Microsoft's new certification structure, allows learners to choose from a pool of exams to effectively customize their certification to their needs.

In order to be eligible for the MCSE: Productivity certification, learners must first earn either the MCSA: Office 365 or MCSA: Windows Server 2012 certification as a prerequisite. After earning a prerequisite certification, learners must take one additional exam to earn the MCSE: Productivity certification.

The MCSE: Productivity exam pool is made up of eight exams, some of which are covered by CBT Nuggets training.

  • Designing and Deploying Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 (70-345)

  • Managing Microsoft SharePoint Server 2016 (70-339)

  • Deploying Enterprise Voice with Skype for Business 2015 (70-333)

  • Core Solutions of Microsoft Skype for Business 2015 (70-334)

  • Core Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 (70-331)

  • Advanced Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 (70-332)

  • Core Solutions of Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 (70-341)

  • Advanced Solutions of Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 (70-342)

The MCSE: Productivity certification, launched in 2016 as a replacement for the MCSE: SharePoint, MCSE: Communication, and MCSE: Messaging certifications, which were retired March 31, 2017.

Typically, learners pursuing an expert-level certification should have three (3) or more years of experience working Microsoft products, particularly Office 365 or Windows Server 2012 (or 2016).

Exam Details

The following exam details are applicable for each exam in the pool of options that make up the MCSE: Productivity 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: Microsoft Learning or Pearson Vue

Please note that MCSE: Productivity 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: Productivity include an Exam Replay, but that may change. Learners should research Exam Replay availability to avoid missing out on the opportunity.


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 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: Productivity 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.

Within the Microsoft universe, the MCSE: Productivity is built on the foundation of the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 and the MCSA: Office 365 certifications, giving learners several related certification options:

Learners who earn the MCSE: Productivity certification are often sysadmins, and as system administrators, there is frequently a need for knowledge and skills related to open source technologies and virtualization. So, outside of the Microsoft universe, learners often also consider:

  • CompTIA Linux+ and LPI LPIC-1 (made up of two exams: LX0-103 and LX0-104)

  • VMware vSphere 6 Foundations (made up of just one exam: vSphere 6 Foundations 2V0-620)

  • LPI LPIC-2 (made up of two exams: 201-400 and 202-400)

  • VMware vSphere 6 VCP6-DCV (made up of just one exam: VCP6-DCV)

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 $50,075 and $144,966 for IT pros who hold any MCSE certification, including MCSE: Productivity. 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) and MCSD (Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer), which include many of the most popular certifications among IT professionals that are offered by Microsoft, including Server 2012, Office 365, and Azure. 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.

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: Productivity certification demonstrates your expertise and commitment to ongoing learning with a variety of Microsoft technologies, including popular products such as Exchange Server, Skype for Business, and SharePoint. This certification acts as evidence of your confidence and competence in administering critical workplace products. Your MCSE: Productivity certification will open up a variety of great career opportunities as you strive to fulfill your professional goals.

Watch. Learn. Conquer the MCSE: Productivity!

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