This page provides a brief guide to the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) SharePoint certification path. Obtaining your MCSE demonstrates that you have reached the globally recognised standard for IT professionals. Such certification indicates your expertise in helping a company organise, sync, collaborate and share information across a large organisation. Earning a MCSE: SharePoint certification will set you apart from the field when applying for such jobs as systems or network analyst. Note that this certification requires a recertification exam every three years.
The Certification Process
In order to obtain MCSE: Server Infrastructure 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.
- Exam 70-331 Core Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013
- Exam 70-332 Advanced Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013
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 do 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 be found in the "Skills measured" section of each exam page on Microsoft's site.
Microsoft provides an interactive course online, namely SharePoint 2013 training for IT pros, comprising of both videos and presentations that covers a range of SharePoint topics.
Microsoft also hosts a wiki and small forum for each individual exam, the wiki for each exam helpfully lists the available learning materials, in addition to the links to each TechNet article pertaining to each element of the exam. The forums tend to be slightly underused but do still contain the odd piece of valuable information.
Microsoft Press provides a number of books aimed at those taking the exams required for obtaining this certification; unfortunately these have received somewhat mixed reviews.
Exam Ref 70-331: Core Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 This book receives a rather wide range of reviews, suggesting that whilst there is a great deal of practical information available that there will not be enough to prepare for an exam using this alone. This having been said, when combined with practical experience and study from other sources this book will likely prove useful.
Exam Ref 70-332: Advanced Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 This book is reportedly somewhat worse that the other reference available for this exam, reportedly lacking in content as well as a confusing structure and style.
Non-Microsoft Press Books
Professional SharePoint 2013 Administration This is a reference book for the entirety of SharePoint and as a result may prove useful during study, either for performing a practice lab or finding further details on topics not covered in as much depth by the exam reference style guides. This book receives excellent reviews for its uses as a guide to the practical implementation of SharePoint.
Microsoft SharePoint 2013 Step by Step This particular text is aimed towards those with less experience regarding SharePoint, providing easy to understand information as well as a range of practice exercises to build up skills and experience. This book also receives excellent reviews and is praised for its pleasant style and range of practical applications.
Microsoft SharePoint 2013 Inside Out This is the definitive reference guide for SharePoint, receiving praise for its level of detail, whilst still remaining relatively readable. This book is squarely aimed at those who already have significant SharePoint experience and will remain useful well after completing any certifications.
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 remains one of the most active and helpful for those taking either MCSA or MCSE certification exams, however the exams for this certification path are less popular and as a result there is little in the way of existing material. However this forum is one of the best places to ask for help.
CBT Nuggets produce videos for the first exam in this certification, Exam 70-331 with approximately 15 hours of instruction being available.
A blog from one of CBT Nuggets' trainers contains some of the most detailed tips and overviews of this certification; this can be found here and comes in four parts in total.
A Microsoft Exam Prep video is available here, covering both exams and lasting around an hour in total.
Unfortunately there do not appear to be any practice tests available for this certification that do not come into conflict with Microsoft's policies against brain dumps. If any tests do become available links will be provided.
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 Rates
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 MCSE 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.