Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
MCSA stands for Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator and is one of four certifications issued by Microsoft to certify a user's knowledge in Microsoft Windows operating systems. The certifications are obtained by passing a number of computer exams in a Microsoft test center. The exams are usually multiple choice with occasional simulations, take about 2-3 hours to complete and cost around $125. Upon passing any one exam a user is certified as a MCP (Microsoft certified Professional). The MCSA is achieved upon passing a predetermined set of four exams, while for the most advanced certification (and also the most popular), the MCSE, the user must pass seven (possibly different) exams. Thus every MCSA and MCSE is also an MCP. Most MCSE's choose their exams so that they include the four required exams to become MCSA and are therefore MCP, MCSA and MCSE at once. These three certifications are arguably the most commonly held certifications in the IT world besides Cisco's CCNA. The newest certification Microsoft offers is the MCDST, or Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician, a lower-level certification showing proficiency in Windows XP support and administration. Microsoft also offers another certification called the MCT (Microsoft certified trainer) which is for individuals who intend to train users wanting to obtain any of the three former certifications.
Whereas the MCSE is supposed to certify a person's ability to "plan, design, and implement Microsoft Windows server solutions and architectures in medium- to large-sized companies", the MCSA certifies a holder's ability to "implement, manage, and maintain the typically complex computing environment of medium- to large-sized companies".
Like the MCSE, the MCSA is currently available as "MCSA on Windows 2000" and "MCSA on Windows 2003". There exist two specializations for both tracks: Messaging and Security.
Like all Microsoft certifications, the MCSA has been criticized as not adequately demonstrating a person's skill in the certified area. This is due to the growing number of "Paper MCSAs/MCSEs". This term describes people who achieve their certification solely by reading books and have no practical experience. Furthermore there are many people who achieved the certification merely by memorizing "braindumps" (actual test questions and possibly answers). Though Microsoft insists that every test taker agrees by click-through agreement, that he/she will not disclose the actual questions they were asked on the test, these braindumps are commonly found on the Internet. There are also quite a number of companies that make a living out of selling these braindumps. This problem concerns almost all certifications, not just Microsoft's. Although Microsoft is busy suing those companies and closing websites which disclose any test questions, it is quite obvious that the only real solution to this problem would be to change test questions more frequently (which would of course be quite costly, which is probably the reason why Microsoft has not done this).
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