This page provides a brief guide to the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) Messaging certification path.Obtaining MCSE certification demonstrates your achievement of the high standard of proficiency demanded of modern IT professionals. MCSE Messaging in particular displays your skills in cloud deployment, data security and user productivity enhancements. This certification will lend you an advantage in applying for networks and systems administration posts. Note that this certification must be re-examined every three years, so as to be valid on the latest Microsoft products.
The Certification Process
In order to obtain MCSE: Messaging certification you will need to pass two separate exams, in addition to having passed the exams necessary to earn an MCSA: Windows Server 2012 certification. These exams are arranged separately from any training courses offered, further information on any individual exam can be seen by clicking on the corresponding title.
- Core Solutions of Microsoft Exchange Server 2013
- Advanced Solutions of Microsoft Exchange Server 2013
To upgrade to MCSE: Messaging from the following certifications:
- MCSA: Windows Server 2008
- MCITP: Virtualization Administrator on Windows Server 2008 R2
- MCITP: Enterprise Messaging Administrator on Exchange 2010
- MCITP: Lync Server Administrator 2010
- MCITP: SharePoint Administrator 2010
- MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Administrator on Windows 7
You must first upgrade to MCSE Windows Server 2012 before taking the two exams listed above.
Preparing for the Exams
MCSE exams comprise of between 40 and 60 questions, drawn approximately equally from each section of examinable material. These exams are between 3 and 4 hours long. It is recommended that you should err on the side of over preparation to prevent any weaker areas resulting in a mark that is not high enough to provide a pass.
For further information on Microsoft exams in general, take a look at the Microsoft Certification exams page.
GBdirect offer the full range of Microsoft approved courses aimed to provide the skills and knowledge required to earn this certification. The courses offered are:
These courses will help prepare you for the exams but may not provide you with everything you need to pass them. To ensure a pass we would recommend as much hands-on experience with the product as possible, in addition to further reading from either Microsoft instructional material or reference texts. Performing practice labs detailed either in Microsoft Press books or following the procedures on the TechNet can also be greatly beneficial, practice tests are also available from some companies, notably Transcender, MeasureUp and Kaplan SelfTest. We welcome any reviews of your Microsoft Certification experience, if you feel that you know of an improved learning method then please don't hesitate to get in touch.
Official Microsoft Materials
Microsoft provides some online materials on each exam page itself, notably the TechNet entries along with any other information relevant to each individual segment of the exam, these links can usually be found in the "Skills measured" section of each exam page on Microsoft's site. Microsoft has also made available a guide to deploying Exchange Server 2013, focusing specifically on setting up a test lab; this is available for download here. Further to this there is also a course on the Microsoft Virtual Academy covering a large portion of Exchange Server 2013; this does assume a fair amount of prior knowledge and experience.
Microsoft also hosts a wiki and small forum for each individual exam, while the wiki helpfully organises the links to TechNet articles and other Microsoft blogs etc. the forums tend to be underused.
Microsoft has created exam prep videos for both of these exams, these are available here.
While Microsoft Press usually provides a number of books aimed at those taking the exams required for certification there are as of yet no texts available for the MCSE: Messaging exams, this list will be updated once they become available.
Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 Configuration & Clients Pocket Consultant As of yet this book has little in the way of reviews, however it has been written by an author who in previous iterations of this guide has provided a fairly in-depth guide to the workings of most features of Exchange Server. This book is not exam-centric in any way, however it will serve as a good tool for both practical labs as well as general exam preparation, it also features step-by-step instructions on certain features.
Non-Microsoft Press books
Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 Unleashed The unleashed series tends to serve as a very good reference for Microsoft products, with a style that allows for exam preparation even with a relatively low level of previous experience. However this particular title seems to suffer from rather mixed reviews, primarily due to its reported lack of detail in some areas, this said the book does still cover virtually all of the features within Exchange Server 2013. Other reviews note that this book can be very helpful for exam preparation given the lack of official Microsoft material, while also proving invaluable when setting up test labs.
Exchange Server 2013 Step by Step This title also garners mixed reviews, mostly over its structure. This is due to the very concise style of the book, although this can lend itself well to using this text as a reference guide for looking up specific technical issues or elements. Further to this the book does contain material that can be followed by relative newcomers.
We welcome reviews and views of any text you have personal experience with, likewise if you feel we have missed off a more valuable study aid please do get in touch.
The Techexams.net forum is one of the most active and helpful for those taking exams leading to the MCSE certification.
A wide variety of blogs are available detailing both exam specific tips and general advice on Exchange Server 2013, while this is by no means an exhaustive list the following blogs could prove useful in obtaining your certification.
- The ACE team Blog Used by Microsoft as their general certification tips outlet this blog can potentially be useful although some of their videos can prove rather irritating.
- The Exchange Team Blog The official Microsoft blog for Exchange Server offers a wide variety of posts that cover a multitude of topics and is as such likely to be helpful to anyone considering taking certification exams.
- TechNet Exchange Server While not a blog as such, this page contains links to a wide variety of instructive material relating to Exchange Server 2013 and as such can be very helpful in studying for this certification.
- Exchangeserverpro This site offers a range of information relating to Exchange Server and related technologies as well as suggestions of other sources of information.
- MseXchangeTeam This blog is aimed at those working on Exchange Server in some form of administrative position; as such it is good for looking up technical issues that may occur in practice labs.
- How Exchange Works This blog is specifically about Exchange Server and associated issues, featuring a good section on the installation and configuration of Exchange Server 2013.
- Exchange Ideas Blog Written by a MVP (most valuable professional) this blog covers both technical issues as well as new developments and changes to products from Microsoft.
Pluralsight (formerly Trainsignal) offers a wide range of instructional courses related to Exchange Server 2013, with specific training for exam 70-341. The core solutions and advanced features courses are likely to be the most relevant for those studying for these exams.
CBT Nuggets also offer highly rated instructional videos, with an exam 70-341 playlist that contains 24 videos featuring over 9 hours of instruction.
As of yet there is only one practice exam available for exam 70-341, this can be purchased from MeasureUp.
What if I fail?
Don't panic. You will be able to see and your test result and the areas you felt weakest in, focus on content areas where your performance was weakest and areas with a high percentage of questions. Once you feel ready you can reschedule your exam. The following text is taken from Microsoft's exam security policy and details their exam retake policy.
Exam retake policy
- If a candidate does not achieve a passing score on an exam the first time, the candidate must wait at least a 24-hour period before retaking the exam.
- If a candidate does not achieve a passing score the second time, the candidate must wait at least a 14-day period before retaking the exam a third time.
- A 14-day waiting period will also be imposed for the fourth and fifth subsequent exam retakes. A candidate may not take a given exam any more than five times per year (12 months). This 12-month period would start the day of the fifth unsuccessful exam retake. The candidate would then be eligible to retake the exam 12 months from that date. In order to take a given exam more than five times per year, a candidate must submit a request and obtain prior permission from Microsoft.
Excellent, you've passed
As with other Microsoft exams passing a certification exam will lead to an update to your account on the Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) site, allowing you to share copies of your exam transcripts to prove your certification to potential employers. In addition to this you will gain aces to the tools to create and download certification logos upon completion of the certification as a whole.
MCSE, Salary and Contract Rate
A recent survey of IT jobs offered across the UK reported the following statistics on the average earning of salaried and contract workers holding MCSE certification. The UK average salary for an MCSA is £42,000, with the average salary for the City of London being £45,000. A breakdown of this shows 90% are offered a salary of more than £26,000 while 10% are offered more than £55,000. Contractor daily rates were also surveyed and the UK average was found to be £325 per day and £350 per day for London. The further breakdown of these figures shows that 90% are offered a daily rate in excess of £175 while 10% are offered more than £425. Further details can be found on the IT Jobs Watch site.