Microsoft Streamlines Technical Certifications

Microsoft is streamlining its technical certifications, aligning to industry-recognised areas of competence while providing flexibility to showcase your specific skills on Microsoft products and services. 

Five new Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) and Developer (MCSD) specialties were released on September 26.  certpath

These credentials are aligned to Centers of Excellence, used by the Microsoft Partner Network to identify technical competencies that are widely recognisable by both Microsoft partners and customers. Find out more.

For Partners in Australia wanting to sit the exam see our local program called Next up - Microsoft Certification in 3 steps.


Top 12 Questions we are receiving about the changes

Q: How does the retirement of MCSE/MCSD certifications released prior to September 2016 impact my MPN Partner status?

A: As long as your current MCSE/MCSD certifications are active on the date of MPN renewal, you will still fulfill your competency's current technical requirements.  Remember that you can use the corresponding recertification exam for all previous MCSE/MCSD specialties or the Recert through MVA option for a select number of specialties (MCSE: SharePoint, Messaging, Communication, Data Platform, and Business Intelligence)


2.      Q: When will the new MCSA/MCSE/MCSD certifications be reflected in the MPN Competencies?

A: Microsoft Learning is working with the MPN team to incorporate these new certifications into the lists of competency technical requirements starting in 2017.


3.      Q: What is the difference between "recertifying" and "re-earning"?

A: For all previous MCSE/MCSD certifications, you were required to recertify to keep the credentials in the Active section of your transcript.  For the new MCSE/MCSD certifications, you do not need to recertify - the earned credentials will remain in the Active section of your transcript.  If you wish to, you have the option to earn the MCSE/MCSD certification every year, to help you demonstrate growth in Microsoft product knowledge.


4.      Q: Why are we moving to an annual cycle to re-earn our certifications?

A: The cadence of changes in the Microsoft products and services is much quicker than it was even a few years ago.  With some products like Microsoft Azure adding features on a weekly basis, demonstration of continued technical competence requires a much faster pace than every three years.


5.      Q: Why are recertification exams being retired?

A: Recertification exams have largely focused on reviewing skills that you have already proven, rather than changes in the products and services.  The choice of elective exams allows you to focus on the newest technologies, in the specialty area of interest.


6.      Q: Doesn't the move to earning an MCSE with a single exam beyond my MCSA lessen the value of this expert-level of certification?

A: No, because the recommended annual cadence will result in demonstrating a better level of technical mastery than taking a single recertification exam every three years.


7.      Q: What if I have already exhausted all of the available elective exams?   What will I take to re-earn my certification in 2017?

A: The Microsoft Learning team will be refreshing each of the elective exam pools several times each calendar year, to ensure that candidates have options to re-earn the certifications.


8.      Q: Can I retake an exam that I have already passed to meet my elective requirement in a given calendar year?

A: At this time, you can only fulfill elective exam requirements by taking a unique exam from the list.  The Microsoft Learning team is developing a solution where, for a select number of exams associated with rapidly-changing technologies (e.g., Microsoft Azure), individuals will be able to retake these exams every calendar year - we will update the MCP community about this feature, when more information is available.


9.      Q: Shouldn't Exam X or Certification Y also be included in your new, streamlined paths?

A: Early feedback from our MCP community has identified a few additional needed changes to our certification paths.  In summary:

a.      MCSA: Windows Server 2012 is now an option to earning MCSE: Productivity - this is necessary to maintain parity with the older MCSE: Communication, SharePoint, and Messaging paths

b.      Exam 534: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions has now been added to the elective exam pool for MCSD: App Builder - this is an exam that is applicable to both developers and administrators


10.   Q: The new MCSE/MCSD specialty names do not reflect the latest product versions?   How do I show what particular skills I've mastered?

A: The previous MCSE/MCSD specialties (e.g., MCSE: Server Infrastructure) also do not include product names and versions in their titles.  To show the details of your skills to your colleagues and employers, you would have to share your MCP transcript - this will remain an important step with the new certifications.


11.   Q: I already earned my MCSA and took one or more qualifying elective exams - why don't I see the new MCSE certification on my transcript?

A: Please note that, in order to earn the new MCSE/MCSD specialties for 2016, you must either have:

a.      An active qualifying MCSE/MCSD certification, OR

b.      Passed a qualifying elective exams since January 1, 2016


12.   Q: When I go to the Microsoft Learning website, I don't see information on the new certifications - what should I do?

A: Our apologies, but the propagation of the new certification paths to regional web pages of the Microsoft Learning website is experiencing a slight delay.  In the interim, please reference the PDF document which provides visual representations of all certification paths, as well as details on how to earn these credentials. This document can be found on the Born to Learn Blog