A piece of paper with a photocopy of Bill Gates John Henry and some superfluous words and letters. An acronym standing for Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, which in some states is illegal to have on a business card (according to them there are only certain types of engineers such as railroad)

Often a person attaining an MCSE is green to the IT industry and has little experience to apply their knowledge, often the MCSE is a career change.

As an MCSE, i had to pass certain tests through Sylvan Prometric (Bought by Microsoft), computer based setup. I prepared for these with Transcender practice exams and Exam-Cram books. To acheive the MCSE one must successfully complete the core and elective tests. The core being NT Workstation, NT Server and Networking Essentials, as electives i took TCP/IP and Exchange Server 5.5.

Since i had no intention of being a Paper MCSE (or Wanker for that matter) I spent 7 months learning and building a knowledge base in my head from scratch. (I had little networking knowledge prior.. to this i am not ashamed)

MCSE does not automatically denote a lack of experience however, since it is a marketing tool used by job searchers to enhance their contract remuneration
One day, when I was walking through the forest of technology, I tripped over a stick and banged my knee on a rock and discovered that somehow I had accidentally gotten myself an MCSE.

They're terribly easy to get. On any given test, the questions fall into one of three categories:

  1. Technical know-how of standards and things(a mere 10% of the test or so)
  2. Really basic knowledge of the product (a mere 30% of the test)
  3. The complete list of bullshit marketing lines that Microsoft has decided make their product stand out from the rest (the rest of the questions)
So, to study for the exam, you take a few of those silly Transcender practice tests, skim one of those silly exam-study books, and then walk in and pass the test.

I've taken like 7 of them. 1 of which was on a product that I had never seen or used or even heard anything about until I looked at the courseware the night before the test.

There are two kinds of MCSE's in the world. The first kind have used the product, have a lot of experience, and got the certification just to satisfy their bosses curiosity. The second kind have never used the product, can't spell Windows NT without getting all the letters jumbled up, and pass anyway. The latter kind are called "Paper MCSEs" and are fairly useless.

It is said that Microsoft is irritated by this situation and is buckling down to make future tests much much harder. But they'll never be in the realm of Cisco certifications.

I work at an internet security consulting company. This means I get to break into computers, explain to the people who own the computers how they were broken into, and get paid for it. Very satisfying work.

One of the most entertaining parts of this work is the post-audit meeting where you sit down with the client and explain how their networks were penetrated. The system administrator is usually present at these meetings.

I have found that systems administrated by MSCEs are usually the easiest to break into. Despite the simplicity of some of the techniques used in these break-ins, I often find it very difficult to explain them to MSCEs. Lots of times they do not understand file permissions, buffer overflows, or even TCP/IP. If you want to admin NT, you should get an MSCE, but please please please don't let that be the extent of your experience. I suggest learning to administrate a unix regardless of the platforms you intend to work with, because to run unix servers you generally need to have a very firm grasp on what you're doing.

MCSE = Minesweeper Consultant and Solitare Expert.

A friend of mine, who took the MCSE exam, said this is an accurate description of it... most of the attendees were playing the standard time-waster games instead of paying attention. The sad part is, most of them probably passed the exam too. Where have our standards gone?

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