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.
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.
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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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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