Why it’s worth it

Of those who pass, 67 per cent said training enabled them to get a promotion or pay raise, while 66 per cent said certification led to a new job. Almost 76 per cent said they plan to go after the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert certification.

A testing time

The Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) certification is widely recognized in the IT industry, although it isn’t easy to get: You have to pass three exams covering one of Windows Server, Windows Desktop or SQL Server. Online training company TrainSignal recently surveyed more than 300 who have taken the test.

Who goes after the MCSA?

Almost 84 per cent of respondents said they are mid-level or higher in their IT careers. TrainSignal says entry-level staffers might be able to pass the first exam, but you’ll likely need at least two to four years of experience to pass the third.

It isn’t easy

Just over 70 per cent of respondents said the MCSA exams are as difficult as other IT certifications. Another 25 per cent said they are harder.

Hands on

You can read books but getting hands on the product is the best preparation. Almost 64 per cent of respondents said real-world experience is very important to passing the test, while almost 70 per cent said being able to take a practice exam is very important.

It takes time

Not surprisingly, 55 per cent said they had trouble finding time to study for the tests. TrainSignal suggests applicants make a study schedule, keep it realistic and stick to it at all costs. Set short term goals and reward yourself when you meet them.

No tricks

Microsoft takes its reputation seriously: Cheating during the exam and bringing non-authorized items into the testing centre will get you banned from taking any Microsoft Certification exam. Falsifying score results after the exam is also forbidden.

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