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Microsoft Developer Certifications Overview

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by , 09-12-2008 at 05:11 AM (12102 Views)
Microsoft offers several developer certifications and exams covering various Microsoft technologies including the .NET framework. There are several good reasons for pursuing Microsoft Developer Certifications and for choosing .NET as a framework for your Web and Windows applications:
  1. The free Visual Studio Express editions – These are limited but still very functional editions of Visual Studio, which allow you to create applications using many of the topics in the exam objectives.
  2. Suitability for beginners – Both the Visual Studio Express editions and several of the exams mentioned in this overview do not require you to be a seasoned developer/programmer. You don’t need to be a mathematician either, although both will obviously be an advantage.
  3. Microsoft supports the multiple different languages (and corresponding Visual Studio Express editions) for developing in the .NET 2.0 Framework: Visual Basic, C#, C++, and J#. Depending on the exam, you must choose a language when you start the exam that will be used for the code segments in exam questions. You can usually choose between Visual Basic 2005 and Visual C# 2005, and sometimes Visual C++ 2005.
  4. Although the majority is not created for the certification exams covered in this overview, the .NET framework, Visual Studio, and especially Visual Basic and C# are widely supported on the Internet.
The main downside is that the applications you create require the .NET framework, which typically runs on Windows only.

Before we go over the ‘current’ Microsoft Developer certifications let’s have a look at the older ones. The following two certifications are still available for version 1 and 1.1 of the .NET framework:

MCSD (Microsoft Certified Solution Developer)

This certification covered several topics over a total of 4 core exams: .NET solution architecture, Web development, Windows development, and XML Web services and server components, and one elective exam. For three of the core exams, candidates can choose between VB and C#.

MCAD (Microsoft Certified Application Developer)

The MCSD was overkill for many developers so Microsoft created the MCAD, which focuses on building, deploying, and maintain Microsoft Windows and Web applications, while the MCSD also includes analyzing and designing enterprise solutions. The MCAD requires two core exams and one elective.

For those who have a lot of experience with the .NET framework 1.0 and/or 1.1 could still go for the above and possible later upgrade to the following certifications. But in general, it’s better to pursue one of the following newer certifications:


MCTS (Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist)

Visual Studio 2005 Credentials


The Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) is one of the new generation Microsoft certifications and is available for a wide variety of technologies, including the .NET Framework 2.0. You can choose Web Applications, Windows Applications, Distributed Applications, or all three of them (which also means you’d be a MCTS three times).

Each of these MCTS certifications requires you to pass the following ‘core’ exam:

Exam 70–536: TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 – Application Development Foundation

As the name says, this exam covers an application development foundation. This includes topics such as system types and collections, interfaces, processes, threading, embedded configuration, diagnostic, installation features, serialization, security, mailing, drawing and much more. For a complete list of exam topics (including percentages) and skills being measures, click the Exam 70-536 link. Simply put, this exam focuses on what goes on ‘behind the windows’.

To achieve the following MCTS certifications, you need to pass the 70-536 above (unless you are upgrading from MCAD or MCSD) and one additional exam as specified below:

MCTS: .NET Framework 2.0 Web Applications

Exam 70–528: TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 – Web-Based Client Development

This exam focuses on designing web applications using ASP and the .NET Framework 2.0 on an IIS web server.

MCTS: .NET Framework 2.0 Windows Applications

Exam 70-526: TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 – Windows-Based Client Development

This exam focuses on creating Windows applications using Forms and both other common and custom controls. The majority of the exam topics related to creating Windows user interfaces for user input and output.

MCTS: .NET Framework 2.0 Distributed Applications

Exam 70–529: TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 – Distributed Application Development

This exam focuses on XML web services, Web Services Enhancements, .NET Framework remoting, enterprise services, and message queuing technology. Although it is not required, it’s wise to go for the previous two, or at least the 70-528 Web-Based Client Development exam before you go for the Distributed Application exam.

MCPD – Microsoft Certified Professional Developer

The Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD) is another new certification from the new generation of Microsoft certifications. As with the MCTS certifications, there are 3 different MCSP certifications. The required exams cover topics that can be very dry especially if you don’t actually work as a professional developer. They focus primarily on designing, developing, testing Web, Windows and Enterprise applications.

MCPD: Web Developer

Exam 70-547: PRO: Designing and Developing Web-Based Applications by Using the Microsoft .NET Framework

Requires MTCS: .NET Framework 2.0 Web Applications, in other words, you need to pass the 70-536 and 70-528 exam in addition to the 70-547 to complete the requirements for the MCPD: Web Developer certification.

Those who are already MCAD certified can upgrade to MCPD Web Developer by passing the following exam:

Exam 70-551: UPGRADE: MCAD Skills to MCPD Web Developer by Using the Microsoft .NET Framework

MCPD: Windows Developer

Exam 70-548: PRO: Designing and Developing Windows-Based Applications by Using the Microsoft .NET Framework

Requires MTCS: .NET Framework 2.0 Windows Applications, in other words, you need to pass the 70-536 and 70-526 exam in addition to the 70-548 to complete the requirements for the MCPD: Windows Developer certification.

Those who are already MCAD certified can upgrade to MCPD Windows Developer by passing the following exam:

Exam 70-552: UPGRADE: MCAD Skills to MCPD Windows Developer by Using the Microsoft .NET Framework

MCPD: Enterprise Applications Developer

Exam 70-549: PRO: Designing and Developing Enterprise Applications by Using the Microsoft .NET Framework

Although you can take the exams in any order, you must complete all 4 of the above MCTS exams (70-536, 70-526, 70-528, 70-529) in addition to the 70-549 to complete the requirements for the MCPD: Enterprise Applications Developer certification.

Those who are already MCSD certified can upgrade to MCPD Enterprise Applications Developer by passing the following exams:

Exam 70-553: UPGRADE: MCSD Microsoft .NET Skills to MCPD Enterprise Application Developer by Using the Microsoft .NET Framework: Part 1

Exam 70-554: UPGRADE: MCSD Microsoft .NET Skills to MCPD Enterprise Application Developer by Using the Microsoft .NET Framework: Part 2

Windows Mobile Applications


Another new developer certification is the:

MCTS: Windows Mobile 5.0 Applications

It requires only a single exam:

Exam 70-540: TS: Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0 – Application Development

This exam focuses on the developing Windows Mobile 5.0 applications using .NET Compact Framework, SQL Server 2005 Mobile Edition.

Help from TechExams.net


If you have any questions about the above certifications/exams and related technologies, please post them in our Microsoft Developers Certifications Forums.

Also, keep an eye out on some new articles James D. Murray and I will start posting soon. They will directly relate to one or more exam topics aka ‘skills being measured’ for the 70-536 and 70-526 exams.

On the following two pages, you can find exam information, recommended books, and links to additional resources such as practice exams:

MCTS 70-536 Exam Resources

MCTS 70-526 Exam Resources
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