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In preparation for new MCSE examinations, between February 19th and March 16th of 1999 more than 2,800 computer professionals completed a survey via the web. The purpose of the survey was a job analysis–a description of the on-the-job activities necessary for positions that MCSEs fill. Both employment tests and certifications must be based on job analyses.

Because of the rapidly evolving nature of the workplace, especially in the technology area, the job analysis did not follow traditional procedures that enumerate lists of specific behaviors. Rather, working with a group of subject matter experts, the job analysis was based on the Job Task Matrix shown in Figure 1. This matrix combined six job duties and eight technical areas. Survey respondents rated the importance, difficulty and frequency of each combination of job duty and technical area. Contextual information was also gathered on work environment and professional background.

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Some 2,829 computer professionals from 86 countries participated in this study. Fifty-four percent worked mostly in the United States. Two-thirds of respondents were MCSEs and half of these were MCSE +Is. Respondents reported spending an average of 93% of their time on the job duties included in the study. This finding confirms the comprehensiveness of the Job Task Matrix

Respondents rated job tasks (individual cells in the Job Task Matrix) as Moderately to Very Important, as Moderately Difficult, and as done Monthly to Weekly. The high importance assigned to all job tasks further supports the comprehensiveness of the study.

The technical areas of Security, Reliability & Availability and Network Infrastructure received the highest importance ratings. The areas of Resources, Hardware Devices & Drivers and Desktop Computing Environment were judged to be less difficult than the other technical areas. Interoperability was the technical area encountered least frequently.

The job duty of Troubleshooting was the most important, and this duty along with Analysis and Design were the most difficult. Job duties in the areas of Management, Monitoring & Optimization and Troubleshooting were encountered most frequently.

The emphasis assigned to specific job tasks in the certification process should parallel the ratings assigned by respondents to this survey.

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