Beginning certification quest - need help - (MCSA/MCSE)

PJC42PJC42 Member Posts: 4 ■□□□□□□□□□
Hi everyone, i'm a college graduate with a diploma in the computer systems technician program. In the program, I had hands on experience working with Novell netware, Windows Server 2003, Windows XP, wireless networking, and network security. I also had two courses, which prepared the class for the network+ and A+ exams. Anyways, after finishing college I have now decided to persue the wonderful path known as certification. I have a few questions that maybe the more experienced IT people on this site could help me with. I have decided to persue MCSE. I have read the Microsoft website and understand what is needed to achieve MCSE status. I was wondering if it is possible to use network+ towards MCSE in anyway or is it seperate all on it's own having nothing to do with MCSE? The reason being is that the network+ will help me brush up on networking foundations so it will be essential for me. I understand that working towards MCSA you need both the A+ and network+ certifications. Out of personal preference I would choose MCSE over MCSA eventhough there is more work to be done, but it will pay off later on. On a side note, I really don't wish to obtain the A+ or server+ certifications. Now, considering that I am interested in MCSE, would most of you recommend that I start off with network+ and then lean towards MCSE or should I just go straight for it? Also, this might sound like a stupid question, but when I decide to go towards MCSE, is there any particular order that I must complete the exams in? This was my general plan:

1) Network+ (Nothing to do with MCSE)


2) 70-270 Windows XP (related to MCSE: Client operating system)

3) 70-620 Windows Vista (related to MCSE: Elective)
**Awesome how Vista is available as an option for an elective**

4) 70-290 (Networking exam 1)

5) 70-291 (Networking exam 2)

6) 70-293 (Networking exam 3)

7) 70-294 (Networking exam 4)

8 ) 70-298 (Core design exam)
**Interested me the most out of the two available**

I think that's about it.

When I complete all the exams and have achieved MCSE, is it given as a seperate cert or is it just a status? Hope that makes sense. It's just alot of this sounds a bit confusing. I'm assuming that on the road to MCSE as how it appears above, I will achieve MCP and MCSE status. With Vista in the mix, does that also give me MCTS status as well? Just wondering. All the help would be very much appreciated, thank you. I'm 20 years old and I am looking to take advantage of the field as much as possible.

Btw, here are the books I have on a few of the exams. Have a look and please let me know your opinions on them if possible.

Network+ ---> Mike Myers certification passport second edition, I also have a learn key training cd, which is hosted by Mike Myers.

Windows XP ---> MCSA/MCSE Windows Xp (Laudon)(Pearson prentice hall) + lab manual with XP training cd.

70-290 ---> MCSE guide to managing a microsoft windows server 2003 environment, enhanced.
Thomson course technology - written by dan dinicolo *comes with training discs/exam preps*

70-291 ---> MCSE guide to managing a microsoft windows server 2003 network, enhanced.
by jason w. eckert + John Schitka

P.S. Or Should I just say, "screw it" and go for MCSA? icon_lol.gif

- Paul


  • brad-brad- Member Posts: 1,218
    I would anticipate getting burned out 1/2 way through it, so getting A+ and N+ may be beneficial so you can at least have an MCSA if you can do the first 3 tests. Those two together are an elective for MCSA, but not for MCSE.

    Depending on how much you plan to invest, I recommend CBT Nuggets for concepts, Trancenders for practice, and the MS press or Sybex books for reference and bathroom reading.

    I would like to note, that IMHO from what I can gather in conversation and posting here, the new A+/N+ test are more difficult than when my co-workers took them years ago.

    Take baby steps, give yourself some time to breathe in between.
  • dynamikdynamik Banned Posts: 12,312 ■■■■■■■■■□
    brad- wrote:
    Depending on how much you plan to invest, I recommend CBT Nuggets for concepts, Trancenders for practice, and the MS press or Sybex books for reference and bathroom reading.

    That's my typical plan of attack as well. The books aren't light reads either, so be sure to eat Chipotle often (at least that's how I justify my burrito addiction).

    The A+ and Network+ (together) count as the elective for your MCSA only. They cannot be applied to the MCSE. If you're looking for a non-Microsoft exam to work into your MCSE, try the Security+. It's an interesting exam that gives you a broad overview of what's involved with IT security. Since you're looking at 298 for your design exam, if you take the Security+ instead of using Vista as your elective (you can actually use this in place of 270 if you wish), you will only need one more exam to obtain your MCSE security specialization.

    You may want to consider getting the A+ even though it's not glamorous and/or you feel like you already know the material. You're probably going to need to start out at an entry-level position, and that A+ on your resume may help you get your food in the door. Considering that you've already taken courses that prep you for the A+ and Network+, you might as well knock those down while the material is fresh in your mind.

    Also, you'll obtain your MCSA while working on your MCSE; it's not one or the other. Make the MCSA your immediate priority and make the MCSE your longer-term goal. However, it is important to have a general idea of where you're heading, as that may influence your elective choices, as noted above.

    The order isn't set in stone. I believe most people go this route:

    *290 (you can do this one first; 290 and 270 have a lot of overlap and it's really just personal preference which you start with)
    *291 (having the N+/A+ combo or Security+ will give you an MCSA at this point)
    *293 (lots of overlap with 291 -- highly recommend taking directly after 291)
    *297 or 298 (designing security or AD)
    *elective (if you haven't taken Security+ or other exam that fulfills your elective)

    Just for a point of reference, my course of action is: 290, 270, Security+, 294, 291, 293, 298, 299, and that will give me an MCSE with the security specialization.
  • PJC42PJC42 Member Posts: 4 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks guys, I appreciate the feedback given. I will most likely start with the network+ certification to build foundation in networking. From there i'll move to security+ to get comptia's certs out of the way. When that's done i'll move into MCP (70-270, 70-290, 70-291) and complete MCSA as the current main objective. MCSE as a long term does seem more realistic at this point considering that there is much work to be done. Also, my brain would get fried from all this studying, and yes I need to breathe in between lol.
  • Daniel333Daniel333 Member Posts: 2,077 ■■■■■■□□□□
    I am not a fan of the CompTia tests.

    A+ seems to have value. Sec+ too. Network+ seems to be a waste. Do a search at and you can judge the value of the different certs.

    I think net+ is mixed with so much old technology it's not worth bothering.

    Consider CCNA other Net+.
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