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Microsoft MCSA Certification Guide: Key Points You Should Know to Pursue This Pathway

There is hardly an organization that doesn’t use Microsoft products or technologies. As a matter of fact, Windows is the most widely used OS in the world. In addition to this, Microsoft Server happens to be the standard in the industry. To top this up, the Azure Cloud service is being used to power the business processes of a large number of organizations. With the coverage of Microsoft products and technologies, it makes logical sense for the IT professionals to give serious thoughts to the certifications offered by this vendor. According to the report, most specialists in the field of IT will configure and manage a minimum of one Microsoft product somewhere along in their career. It is therefore not strange to discover that many professionals in the IT field build their careers around installing, managing, configuring, and designing Microsoft systems and products.

The certifications are very important to a successful career in the field of IT. So one of the top credentials that an individual can consider is the Microsoft certificates. One of the most popular ones is MCSA. In this blog post, we will focus on the MCSA certification pathway. We will take a look at the options available, how to earn them, and career potentials for each of the certificates. Let’s get right into it.

Overview of Microsoft MCSA Certification Pathway

MCSA, Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate, is a credential that is designed to evaluate and validate the technical skills and knowledge of the professionals on the Microsoft products. The individuals starting in the industry and wanting to build a career in the Microsoft technologies should strongly consider MCSA. It is essential to mention that this associate-level path is the second level of credentials offered by Microsoft. Its certificates are designed like a pyramid where each level builds on another up till the position of a more complex and specialized one. At the foundational level, you can find Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA), which focuses on the basic knowledge in IT. The Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) is an associate-level credential like MCSA. The only difference is that MCSD is aimed at the Microsoft developers. There is also the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) certificate, which is the highest level of certifications under the Microsoft path.

What Microsoft MCSA Path Can You Choose?

To earn any MCSA certification, the candidates must have at least one year of experience working with technology. It is important that you pursue an associate-level credential that best suits your job roles and career path. The Microsoft MCSA path includes 10 certifications. Each of the certificates requires that the students pass at least two exams. There are some that require the completion of three tests.

  1. BI Reporting. You need to have experience in transforming and consuming data, also modeling and visualizing it, and you need to know how to configure dashboards with the use of Power BI and Excel. This credential requires that the candidates pass two exams: Microsoft 70-778 and Microsoft 70-779.
  2. Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations. This certification requires that the individuals pass two exams. The test takers have the option of choosing between Microsoft 70-764 and Microsoft 70-765 as their first exam. The second one to pass is Microsoft MB6-894. Please note that the retirement date of this certificate is December 31, 2019.
  3. SQL 2016 BI Development. As a prerequisite, you need to have foundational IT skills. This certification also requires two exams: Microsoft 70-767 and Microsoft 70-768. And after earning the credential, you will become a certified BI Developer.
  4. SQL 2016 Database Administration. Here you need to pass Microsoft 70-764 and Microsoft 70-765.
  5. SQL 2016 Database Development. This certification also requires two exams: Microsoft 70-761 and Microsoft 70-762.
  6. SQL Server 2012/2014. The candidates pursuing this credential must pass three exams: Microsoft 70-461, Microsoft 70-462, and Microsoft 70-463.
  7. Universal Windows Platform. This certificate requires to pass two tests (70-483 and 70-357) to become a Software Developer or a Quality Engineer.
  8. Web Applications. For this credential, the first test to pass is Microsoft 70-480 or Microsoft 70-483 and the second one – Microsoft 70-486. Be prepared to implement modern web applications.
  9. Windows Server 2012. This requires to pass three certification exams: Microsoft 70-410, Microsoft 70-411, and Microsoft 70-412.
  10. Windows Server 2016. Microsoft 70-740, Microsoft 70-741, and Microsoft 70-742 are three exams that should be passed in order to earn this certificate.

Retired Microsoft MCSA Certifications

There are also several MCSA certificates that have been retired due to their outdated exams. They are as follows:

  • Data Engineering & Azure – retired on June 30, 2019.
  • Machine Learning – also retired on June 30, 2019.
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 – April 30, 2019.
  • Office 365 – March 31, 2019.
  • Windows 10 – also retired on March 31, 2019.

Key Points Related to Microsoft MCSA Certifications

Exam Fees

For the residents in the United States, the cost of taking each of the MCSA exams is $165. The international candidates can pay a fee that ranges between $55 and $165. Since MCSA requires two to three tests, earning it therefore ranges from $330 to $495 in the US. It is well-known that the Microsoft certification exams are usually difficult, and it is very common to have the students taking them multiple times. Microsoft understands it and offers Exam Replay almost every year. This means that the test takers can retake any exam at a fraction of the standard fee.

Recertification and Renewal

You don’t need to recertify or renew your MCSA certificate. Your credential is valid until Microsoft retires the certification exam. Before retirement, your certificate carries the ‘Active’ status. After the retirement of certification program, your credential will carry the ‘Legacy’ status. However, it still doesn’t expire.

Income Potentials

There are different job roles that the professionals with MCSA can take up. For the individuals with MCSA: Windows Server 2016, they often take up a job title such as a Systems Administrator. The salary for this position, according to, ranges from $43,000 to $86,000 per annum.

The specialists with the MCSA: SQL 2016 Database Administration certification can earn between $45,000 and $107,000 as a Database Administrator. For those with MCSA: BI Reporting, the average salary is from $49,000 to $93,000 per annum. The variance in salaries of these professionals mainly differs because of the years of experience. This means that any Microsoft certification alone doesn’t guarantee a high salary. You have to combine it with your work experience to earn your desired remuneration.


Microsoft offers a wide range of certifications to obtain. The only thing you need is to choose the one you want and commit yourself to the preparation time and exam day. Use this guide and decide which path you are going to wend. Good luck!