Introduction

It may have come as a shock to you that two of the leading Microsoft certifications, Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) and Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE), will be retired very soon. This may leave you with a lot of questions if you currently hold one of these certifications or you are progressing toward earning one.

This article will provide you with a high-level view of how these changes will impact you, how COVID-19 fits into these changes and other questions you may have about retiring two of the most well-recognized certifications in the IT industry.

These certifications are being retired?

In February of 2020, Microsoft announced that they will retire their MCSA and MCSE certifications and all associated certification exams. This may have come to a shock to many but probably not as shocking as the changes that have occurred within the last few months. As with most things in life, COVID-19 has affected the retirement of these exams, a fact which will likely raise more questions for you.

Whether you are just finding out about this retirement or want to know how the COVID-19 crisis has impacted it, this article will address these issues and explain the path forward.

Retirement date extension

COVID-19 has affected how nearly all of us go about the normal course of things and unfortunately, it has frustrated the process of earning certifications as well. 

When Microsoft issued the original retirement date announcement, the retirement date was June 30th, 2020. Due to the impact of COVID-19, Microsoft has extended the MCSA and MCSE certification and exams retirement date to January 31, 2021. This will make it easier for those still preparing for exams, those who have been putting off their exam, and even those still considering earning these certifications, as Pearson VUE has been closing examination locations in response to local governmental requirements and recommendations surrounding COVID-19.

What this all means for you

An extension of the retirement date is not the only change that may affect when and how you earn your MCSA and MCSE certifications. 

Testing center and examination fee changes

Microsoft’s exam delivery partner is Pearson VUE, which hosts many certification exams for the IT and information security industries. Due to COVID-19, Pearson view has closed a significant number of their testing centers to comply with COVID-19 requirements and recommendations established by local law.

The good news here is that online proctoring is not only still available as a test-taking option, but is also expanding in capacity to handle more certification exam takers. If you are still wondering whether testing centers will be open in your area and how COVID-19 will affect onsite testing, you can find these updates here

Normally, if you want to reschedule or cancel your certification exam, Microsoft imposes a rescheduling and cancellation fee. In response to the current crisis, Microsoft has waived these fees and has enlarged the window during which you can reschedule or cancel from a six-day window to at least 24 hours prior to the examination appointment. 

Pearson VUE exam vouchers and discount offers

For those that have a Pearson VUE examination voucher or discount offer set to expire between March 26th and August 31st, 2020, you will receive an extension on both. They have been extended until the new retirement date of January 31st, 2021.

Changes to training

In-person training led by instructors has been a popular option for training, however, for those seeking the MCSA and MCSE certifications. In response to the crisis, Microsoft (and MS Learning Partners) is moving its training to virtual instructor-led training. For more information on your local learning partner, click here

What if you still want to earn MCSA or MCSE?

Don’t worry, you can still earn these certifications as long as you pass all exams required for the certification(s) before January 31st, 2021. As mentioned earlier, the certification exams will be retired along with these certifications. 

For more information about which exams are being retired, you can find a list of exams that will be retired here

How these changes will affect certification holders

You may currently hold one (or both) of these exams and are wondering how you will be affected. After retirement, your certification will remain on your Microsoft transcript. These certifications will remain active for two years from the retirement date. After the two years have expired, your certification will be classified as inactive.

Conclusion

It probably came as a surprise to many that Microsoft announced it would retire their MCSA and MCSE certifications back in February of 2020. Although only a short amount of time has passed since then, recent changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic crisis has impacted the retirement of these certifications. Instead of being retired on June 30th, 2020, the retirement was pushed back to January 31st, 2021 to accommodate those who are still pursuing these certifications.

The good thing here is that you will find that you can receive training and take the certification exams online from the comfort of your home, and you will not have to pay a fee to reschedule or cancel your exam.

 

Sources

  1. An Important Update on Microsoft Training and Certification, Microsoft
  2. MCSA, MCSD, MCSE certifications retire; with continued investment to role-based certifications, Microsoft