Microsoft Developer Certifications Demystified
Written by Sue Gee   
Thursday, 29 July 2010
Article Index
Microsoft Developer Certifications Demystified
Three generations of MCTS
Professional level and beyond



Once you have gained the MCTS qualifications you want then there is only one more exam to pass in order to become a Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD). However in some cases you need more than one MCTS.

For Visual Studio 2005 there are three MCPDs. For either Windows Developer or Web Developer you need only two prerequisite exams - the core MCTS exam and either the Windows or Web option respectively. But if you aspire to Enterprise Application Developer on Visual Studio 2005 then you need all three of the Windows, Web and Distributed MCTS exams in addition to the core exam as pre-requisites.

The additional exams to be taken are:

Exam 70-548 Windows Developer

Exam 70-547 Web Developer

Exam 70-549 Enterprise Application Developer

For Visual Studio 2008 the requirements are similar as shown in the road map below. To become either an ASP.NET Developer 3.5 or a Windows 3.5 Developer you need the corresponding MCTS (involving two exams) but for Enterprise Application Developer 3.5 you need four MCTS certifications, a total of five exams:


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The additional exams to be taken are:

Exam 70-563 Windows Developer 3.5

Exam 70-564 ASP.NET Developer 3.5

Exam 70-565 Enterprise Application Developer 3.5


For Visual Studio 2010 there are only two MCPDs - Windows Developer 4 and Web Developer 4 but each requires three MCTS certifications as shown in this road map:


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The additional exams are:

Exam 70-518 Windows Developer 4

Exam 70-519 Web Developer 4

and as you can see if you click the links to see the Skills Measured these are quite touch challenges requiring a breadth and depth of knowledge.

Upgrade paths

There are also Upgrade exams available to enable those who have gained MCPD status on earlier .NET frameworks to get a more up-to-date one without having to start from scratch.  The options to go from Visual Studio 2005 to 2008 and from Visual Studio 2008 to 2010 are summarised below.


Upgrading from Visual Studio 2005 to 2008

Notice that if you want either the Windows or Web Developer MCPD then you can achieve it by taking just a single exam and you earn an MCTS at the same time. However, if you want to go from Enterprise Application Developer .NET 2.0 to .NET 3.5 you have to take two exams but you achieve four MCTS credentials in the process.


Upgrading from Visual Studio 2008 to 2010

In this upgrade process there's only a single exam to pass and you'll earn three MCTS credentials at the same time as either a Windows or Web MCPD for .NET 4.0. If you currently hold an Enterprise Application Developer 3.5 credential you can choose either the Windows or Web MCPD - and you might decide to take two exams and go for both.

Top rung removed

The certification programme for Visual Studio 2008 included one more level, Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA), intended for those with five or more years of "architecturlal experience".  To gain this elite credential individuals had to prove their competency in leadership communication, organisational dynamics and process and strategy as well as having a broad and deep knowledge of the technology. Microsoft is now discontinuing this certification but a similar credential, the Certified IT Architect – Professional (CITA-P), is now available from the International Association of Software Architects (IASA).

Are you certifiable?

There are many resources to help prepare for Microsoft exams, which we'll cover in future articles, but if you are an experienced developer and want to test your expertise Microsoft has an online game in which you can pit your wits against those of other developers.



Play Are You Certifiable


Be warned this can be highly addictive and requires an investment of time - but it's free and it's fun.






The certification programme for Visual Studio 2008

Last Updated ( Thursday, 14 April 2011 )