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Where to start with Windows certification?

I've just finished a college certificate in nbetwork administration on NT 4.0 and I would like to know which kind of Windows certificate I can continue with. With all the changes Windows has made, I'm a little bit confused. Thank you for your advice.

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Now that the Windows NT 4.0 exams have retired (as of 2/28/2001, after being extended from 12/31/2000) you have no choice but to pursue the Windows 2000 curriculum going forward. I recommend the following initial sequence of exams:
  1. 70-210 Windows 2000 Professional
  2. 70-215 Windows 2000 Server
  3. 70-216 Windows 2000 Network Infrastructure
  4. 70-217 Windows 2000 Directory Services
in that very order. This will get you past the mandatory core requirement, and will account for 4 of the 7 exams you must take to obtain an MCSE nowadays. After that you must take three more exams, two electives, plus one of the four "Designing" exams:
  1. 70-219 Designing Active Directory
  2. 70-221 Designing Windows 2000 Network Infrastructure
  3. 70-220 Designing Windows 2000 Security
  4. 70-226 Designing Highly Available Web Solutions
Here, I mention them in their order of popularity (actually 70-226 isn't out of beta yet, and probably won't be available commercially until September; but unless you work in a large-scale IIS-based Web services environment, you wouldn't be able to take that exam anyway).

I strongly urge you to investigate your elective options through the information available on the Microsoft Web pages in the www.microsoft.com/trainingandservices/ hierarchy (choose Certifications, then MCSE in the left-hand menus; then choose MCSE requirements and the electives hyperlink in the ensuing Web pages that result). The "Designing" exams are pretty challenging and many experts, including me, recommend you take as many other exams as possible before tackling one of them--in other words, save this one for last.

I hope this tells you what you need to do. Good luck with your MCSE!
--Ed--

This was first published in May 2001

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