Becoming a certified SharePoint administrator: what you need to know

By Nicola Wright

Already used by around 80% of Fortune 500 companies, Microsoft SharePoint currently has over 200 million worldwide users.

As the benefits of digital transformation prompt more businesses to turn to the cloud to store their data and promote communication between their teams, that number is likely to continue to climb in the near future, and of course, more SharePoint users is great news for SharePoint administrators.

Although it’s largely employed as a document management and intranet platform, there are almost innumerable things you can do with SharePoint – if you know how.

What does a SharePoint administrator do?

Its massive scalability and customization options mean SharePoint can solve a lot of pain points for organizations, but getting the most out of the solution means having someone on hand who has skills, knowledge, and experience.

IT professionals in the Microsoft eco-system know how important a SharePoint Administrator can be to an organization. These admins assist companies and organizations in achieving the full potential of the powerful SharePoint platform.

Each day, the duties of a SharePoint Administrator include installing, configuring and upgrading a company’s SharePoint platform, along with managing the platform’s system and services day-to-day, and training other users on how to effectively utilize the platform and the data within it. Sometimes, a SharePoint admin will even manage the SQL Server, a database that works in conjunction with SharePoint.

SharePoint administrator certifications

So how do you go about becoming a SharePoint Administrator? Obviously, it’s imperative that you fully understand how SharePoint works, and the best way to exhibit that understanding is to become certified.

Microsoft has recently overhauled its suite of certifications to better reflect today’s tech jobs market. New certifications are aligned to specific roles, like engineer, administrator, and data scientist, as well as Microsoft technologies.

As a result of this revamp, many of Microsoft’s existing SharePoint certifications have been retired. The company is seeking to align its certification paths with newer offerings like Microsoft 365, and reflect the way that many tech professionals work today, often with several overlapping technologies at a time. That change in direction has seen some of the more product-specific certifications that covered SharePoint—like MCSA: Office 365—have been shelved.

Some exams that previously covered SharePoint knowledge have also been retired, significantly narrowing the options for SharePoint professionals and those looking to validate their SharePoint skills.

Currently, the only certification path that covers SharePoint is the Modern Workplace path.

This path begins with the optional Microsoft Certified: Microsoft 365 Fundamentals certification, which leads to (but is not mandatory for achieving) the Microsoft 365 Certified: Teamwork Administrator Associate certification. Once candidates have earned that certification, they can go on to gain the Microsoft 365 Certified: Enterprise Administrator Expert certification, though this certification does not explicitly cover SharePoint knowledge.

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Microsoft 365 Certified: Teamwork Administrator Associate

This certification is now the only Microsoft certification that specifically covers SharePoint and requires candidates to pass a dedicated SharePoint exam. While MCSE: Productivity is still available, SharePoint knowledge is not a prerequisite, and taking a SharePoint-focused exam is optional—you could earn the MCSE: Productivity without having studied SharePoint in-depth at all.

Microsoft 365 Certified: Teamwork Administrator Associate certification, on the other hand, covers the four pillars of Microsoft’s collaboration suite: SharePoint, Office 365, OneDrive, and Teams.

To earn this certification, candidates need to show they know how to configure, deploy, and manage Office 365 workflows, specifically those that foster effective collaboration.

SharePoint online, on-premise, and hybrid instances are all covered here; not surprising given Microsoft’s push to get customers to use its cloud-based products and services. As a result, candidates for this cert should have a broad foundation of SharePoint knowledge across all deployments, as they’ll be quizzed on configuring and managing SharePoint Online, SharePoint On-Premises, and hybrid scenarios, as well as their ability to migrate to SharePoint Online.

Candidates will also have to prove their skills when it comes to configuring and managing OneDrive for Business, Teams, and their associated workload integrations.

There are no prerequisites for this certification, but earning it is required if you want to go on to achieve the Microsoft 365 Certified: Enterprise Administrator Expert certification.

Microsoft 365 Certified: Teamwork Administrator Associate exams

To earn this certification, you need to pass two exams. All candidates for the Microsoft 365 Certified: Teamwork Administrator Associate certification must pass Exam MS-301: Deploying SharePoint Server Hybrid.

Candidates must also pass one of two other exams, depending on whether or not they’ve previously passed an older SharePoint exam—Exam 70-339: Managing Microsoft SharePoint Server 2016.

Those who have passed Exam 70-339 must take and pass Exam MS-302: Microsoft 365 Teamwork Administrator Certification Transition.

Those who haven’t must sit and pass Exam MS-300: Deploying Microsoft 365 Teamwork.

If you’ve already passed Exam 70-339 and want to earn this new certification to prove your up-to-date SharePoint skills, you need to move quickly: the option to sit the transitional exam expires on September 30th 2019. After that date, you’ll have to sit Exam MS-300 and Exam MS-301.

What you need to know to become a Microsoft 365 Certified: Teamwork Administrator Associate

There’s no guarantee that everything below will be covered in the exams for this certification—or that topics not included in this list won’t crop up—but this list should give you a good idea of the kind of things you’ll need to know to earn this accreditation.

What you need to know
Configure and manage SharePoint Online

Plan and configure site collections and hub sites

  • identify procedures for creating, deleting, and restoring site collections
  • assign users or groups as site collection administrators
  • plan and configure navigation
  • design site collection and subsites structure
  • configure site collection settings and features

Plan and configure customizations and apps

  • plan and configure App Catalog
  • plan and deploy apps with proper permissions and licenses

Plan and configure managed metadata

  • plan and create the term store structure
  • plan and configure term store security
  • maintain the term store

Plan and configure guest access

  • assign guest licenses
  • configure restricted domains
  • plan and configure guest sharing and site access

Manage SharePoint Online

  • configure user profile properties
  • archive or delete unused artifacts
  • plan for Information Rights Management
  • modify storage limits for SharePoint Online

Manage search

  • create and update search dictionaries
  • manage query suggestions
  • create result sources
  • manage the search schema
  • manage search center settings
  • monitor search usage reports and crawl logs

Monitor and maintain the SharePoint Online service

  • research, troubleshoot, and resolve reported issues
  • monitor service health issues
  • monitor SharePoint usage and usage patterns
Configure and manage OneDrive for Business

Configure and manage OneDrive for Business

  • configure settings in the OneDrive for Business admin center
  • configure external sharing, sync, and storage settings
  • configure device access, notification, and compliance settings
  • research, troubleshoot, and resolve reported issues
  • plan OneDrive for Business silent account configuration

Manage users and groups

  • add and remove admins for a OneDrive account
  • assign a default storage quota
  • configure a retention policy for deleted OneDrive for Business users

Manage sharing and security

  • configure data encryption in OneDrive for Business
  • control access to OneDrive for Business from unmanaged devices
  • audit sharing activities and view files shared with people outside an organization

Manage sync security

  • recommend group policy settings to control OneDrive sync client settings
  • limit syncing to devices joined to specific domains
  • limit syncing to domain-joined or compliant devices
  • block syncing of specific file types

Monitor and maintain the OneDrive service

  • research, troubleshoot, and resolve reported issues
  • monitor service health issues
  • monitor OneDrive usage and usage patterns
Configure and manage Teams

Plan and configure Teams settings

  • configure settings in the Teams admin center
  • configure email integration options
  • configure and manage Apps settings
  • configure custom cloud storage
  • configure a Teams meeting policy
  • configure Content Search
  • plan and configure the provisioning process
  • plan and configure Teams templates

Plan identity and authentication for Teams

  • implement identity models and authentication
  • configure guest access

Manage the Teams environment

  • deploy Teams client apps
  • manage visible Apps
  • monitor the audit log for events

Monitor and maintain the Teams service

  • research, troubleshoot, and resolve reported issues
  • monitor service health issues
  • monitor Teams usage and usage patterns
Configure and manage workload integrations

Integrate Microsoft 365 workloads

  • manage Office 365 connectors for Teams, Yammer, and SharePoint
  • manage integration with Office apps
  • manage user licenses for Flow and PowerApps
  • manage quotas for Flow and PowerApps
  • utilize Delve for collaboration
  • plan for and manage Office 365 groups
  • manage data and environment policies for Microsoft 365 workloads
  • manage workload Apps with proper permissions and licenses

Manage Yammer capabilities

  • enable document support for Yammer
  • integrate Yammer with SharePoint
  • enable the Yammer webpart for SharePoint sites
  • enable and manage Yammer and Office 365 connected groups
  • migrate users to Azure AD to enable authentication with Yammer
  • enable Yammer integration with on-premises SharePoint deployments

Manage Stream capabilities

  • configure Stream channels to allow integration with Teams
  • enable viewing, sharing, and embedding of Microsoft Stream video content in Teams, SharePoint Online, and Yammer
  • deploy, configure and manage Live Events to publish with Yammer, Stream, and Teams
  • configure company-wide channel creation

Integrate Microsoft 365 workloads with external data and systems

  • identify data access requirements to integrate with line-of-business solutions
  • manage tenant settings for Power BI
  • monitor workload usage and usage patterns
  • monitor license usage for workloads
Configure and manage SharePoint On-Premises

Plan a SharePoint farm

  • select and configure a farm topology
  • design for high availability
  • plan for disaster recovery
  • plan and configure backup and restore
  • plan for Information Rights Management
  • plan localization and language packs

Manage and maintain a SharePoint farm

  • configure and maintain core infrastructure to support a SharePoint deployment
  • deploy and configure service and web applications
  • configure profile synchronization
  • monitor farm Health Analyzer reports and resolve issues
  • monitor storage usage for SharePoint
  • update SharePoint Server and validate the installation
  • manage SharePoint workflows
  • configure content type hub
  • select an upgrade path for version to version upgrades in on-premises SharePoint deployments

Implement authentication

  • select and implement an authentication method
  • configure authentication
  • monitor and maintain authentication

Manage site collections

  • plan and configure the site collection architecture
  • create, update, and remove content types
  • reorganize sites based on changes in business needs
  • deploy customizations
  • update site designs and branding
  • create and update master pages and page layouts
  • activate or deactivate site collection features

Plan and configure Business Connectivity Services (BCS) and Secure Store

  • create BCS data sources and configure BCS permissions
  • create external content types
  • plan and configure connections to external data stores
  • configure Secure Store target applications
  • configure external lists

Plan and configure managed metadata

  • plan taxonomy and folksonomy
  • plan and create the term store structure
  • plan and configure connections to external data stores
  • plan and configure term store security
  • maintain the term store

Manage search

  • configure and manage the search schema
  • configure and manage search queries
  • configure and manage search crawls
  • configure and manage the search topology
  • configure and manage the search result type
Configure and manage hybrid scenarios

Plan a hybrid configuration and topology

  • evaluate available hybrid scenarios
  • identify core services interdependencies and prerequisites for hybrid deployments
  • determine which workloads will remain on-premises, which will migrate, and how they will connect

Implement hybrid teamwork artifacts

  • plan, configure, and monitor hybrid SharePoint taxonomies and hybrid content types
  • plan and configure hybrid OneDrive for Business
  • plan for and add custom tiles to the hybrid app launcher
  • configure document rendering for Web Apps

Implement a hybrid Search Service application

  • evaluate available hybrid search scenarios
  • plan the implementation for Hybrid Search
  • configure the hybrid Search Service application
  • transition to a hybrid Search Service application
  • manage the hybrid Search Service application

Implement a data gateway

  • plan the implementation of on-premise data gateway
  • install and configure an on-premises data gateway
  • manage an on-premises data gateway
Migrate to SharePoint Online

Migrate data and content

  • identify and resolve blocking issues that prevent migration
  • determine course of action for data and content that cannot be migrated
  • prepare data for migration
  • recommend tools and strategies to migrate data

Other SharePoint certifications

MCSE: Productivity

The MCSE: Productivity, which broadly covers skills needed to move an organization to the cloud, increase user productivity, minimize data loss, and improve data security, is still available, but the options for SharePoint professionals looking to earn it have decreased.

Previously you would need to pass one of eight elective exams to earn an MCSE, three of which focused on SharePoint specifically. Now, the two exams focusing on SharePoint Server 2013 have been dropped, leaving just one option: Exam 70-339: Managing Microsoft SharePoint Server 2016.

Retired exams:

  • Exam 70-331/Course 20331B: Core Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013
  • Exam 70-332/Course 20332B: Advanced Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013

MCSD: App Builder

The MCSD: App Builder, which corroborates abilities in web and mobile development is still available, but the two exam options that focused on SharePoint have now been retired, meaning that earning this cert specifically to bolster or prove SharePoint skills is a little pointless.

Instead, this certification now focuses more on ASP.NET and developing Azure services and Web API.

Retired exams:

  • Exam 70-488/Course 20488B: Developing Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 Core Solutions
  • Exam 70-489/Course 20489B: Developing Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 Advanced Solutions

SharePoint certification pricing

Newer Microsoft exams typically cost $165 USD per attempt.

The cost for transitional exams—the ones you must take if you’ve already passed an older exam—are slightly lower at $99 USD.

So, if you wanted to earn the Microsoft 365 Certified: Teamwork Administrator Associate certification, which requires you to pass two exams, it would cost you $330 USD ($165 USD x 2) if you hadn’t already passed Exam 70-339, and $264 USD ($165 USD + $99 USD) if you had.

If you don’t pass the first time, you’ll have to pay for the exam again. The good news is that Microsoft provides several exam packages that offer cheaper resits.

The Certify with Confidence package costs $230 USD, and includes one certification exam, plus two retakes. Your other option is the Certify with Confidence with Practice Test, which includes one certification exam, two retakes, and access to one official Microsoft practice test. This package costs $265 USD.

Are SharePoint certifications worth it?

The process of becoming a certified SharePoint administrator may involve a lot of time, and a lot of studying, but at the end of your hard work you get a highly respected and sought-after award that will help you stand out in the competitive Microsoft specialist job market.

SharePoint skills are in demand, and if you can prove that you possess the abilities that employers are looking for, you can make a good living as a SharePoint administrator; depending on experience, salaries can often reach upwards of $100,000, with those going on to SharePoint architect  or technical consultant roles achieving up to $150,000.

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