Microsoft Certifications: Where Do I Start? (A Series)

I am kicking off a series of posts today that are designed to address your questions around getting or updating a Microsoft certification.  The series will follow this outline;

1) I'm new to Microsoft certifications.  Where do I start?

2) I am already certified as an MCSD or an MCAD but I want to upgrade.  Where do I start?

3) I am already certified as an MCTS and I want to upgrade.  Where do I start?

4) I am already certified as an MCPD and I want to upgrade.  Where do I start?

5) I am an MCDBA, what are my options for the new generation certifications?

6) I am already an MCTS in SQL 2005 and I want to upgrade.  Where do I start?

7) I am already an MCITP in SQL 2005 and I want to upgrade.  Where do I start?

5) I am already certified but I want to be an MCA.


Please let me know if you want me to cover IT Pro certs as well instead of just developer and SQL Server.



Comments (60)
  1. Krip says:

    Great.  Looking forward to more details on MCPD track.

    1) What exams are required for the new MCPD, Web track?

    2) Your point 4: "I am already certified as an MCPD and I want to upgrade.  Where do I start?"  If web is it one exam?  What about Enterprise?


  2. Anthony Greg says:

    Hello Gerry,

    Older versions of intermediary career, like MCAD or MCSA, they allowed MCT to minister courses around them.

    Iā€™m a MCTS in Web, Windows and Distributed applications. Why I cannot to minister these courses? Only MCPD?

  3. Patience, patience.

    All in due time.  I will do the series in the order listed.  šŸ™‚


  4. Chris Benard says:

    MCT information would be helpful.  I’d be interesting in pursuing that as well.

  5. Did you see the post at

  6. Gerry, oh I use to be so much like you. And to a point, deep down I am. Being in the I.T. field for 14 years professionally, I have learned one very important trait: Research. Earning many of my certifications over the years required endless hours of research — 10x that amount of time hands-on experience. Being a current resident in the Microsoft certification public newsgroups, I have ran across this, and many of these questions you list. And one of the first replies I post is, "Have you researched ?" You would be surprised of the rude replies back from the original poster — as if I know all the answers and not sharing them. They also ask, "I have read Microsoft Press XYZ Training Kit. Will this give me the confidence to pass the exam?" How do you answer a question like that??? I have simplified my responses to many of these post. Do you have hands-on experience with the tested technology? Do you feel comfortable with the exam objectives as listed on the Microsoft Learning website? If so, then schedule and test away. If not, then no one here can help you.

    Below are a few article, if you will, on this very subject. Take a read and let me know what you think. Personally, nothing bothers me more than asking a newsgroup full of strangers about something that can easily be confirmed by visiting the Microsoft Learning site.

  7. Thanks Chris, I may have one of our MCT program people partner with me on the that one.


  8. Hi Anthony.

    I am researching your question and will have an answer for you shortly.


  9. Hi Michael,

    All valid points for sure.  I will give these articles a read, thank you very much for the links.

    While I do agree that our website hosts all the information on what is required for our certifications, I still feel an obligation to the people of the community to make it as accessible as possible.

    It will take me some time to write these posts and provide all the relevant information but I hope, that by doing so, I will reduce the amount of questions that get posted in the newsgroups and other forums.  And it ensures a consistent message to all.

    Your input and feedback on these posts would be most valued as well.

    I want to ensure that we place the focus on the experience aspect as well and not simply tell people that they can study a book and pass an exam.

    Thanks again.


  10. Gerry, I think Microsoft has done a very good job with providing web-based answers to a large percentage of "standard" questions, including "Where do I start?" and "How do I upgrade?"  Getting a MSFT certification is hard work; researching it is by far the easiest part.  Part of being an MCP is having the determination to learn on your own!

    I recognize there are still plenty of non-standard questions, particularly from international test-takers.

    People might try entering "Microsoft certification" in Live Search instead of Google-they’ll get better results.

    I’m working on both MCITP and MCPD certifications and I haven’t come up with a "certification process" question so far: by reading the web pages, I’ve found the answers.

  11. Your making my Hero list pretty soon, Gerry! And not just because of your polite followup! šŸ™‚

    If I can be of assistance, just let me know. Trika can vouch for me! šŸ™‚

  12. Chris Benard says:

    Thanks for the quick response, Gerry.

    I’m MCPD: Windows, Web, Enterprise and MCTS: SQL Server 2005, Windows, Web, Distributed.

    So, I’m looking forward to this series to see where to go from here, including that MCT information.

  13. Prakash kumar says:

    Hi Experts,

    I want to write exam for  SQL 2005, VBA (Excel).

    Where I can get details like leraning materials.

    I have been trying to get details about VBA, still I can’t get the details



  14. Alice says:

    Gerry wrote: "Please let me know if you want me to cover IT Pro certs as well instead of just developer and SQL Server."

    Yes, I would definitely be interested in seeing the IT Pro lines covered, as soon as you have time. šŸ™‚

    Prakash kumar wrote: "I want to write exam for  SQL 2005, VBA (Excel). Where I can get details like leraning materials. I have been trying to get details about VBA, still I can’t get the details"

    Do you mean you want to *take* exams on those topics? (‘Write’ sounds more like "create your own exams", not "take Microsoft’s certification exams".)

    Assuming that is what you meant, I think the reason you haven’t found any information about Excel/VBA exams is that there aren’t any still available (except for one end-user-oriented Excel exam, not developer-oriented).

    Here are all of the Excel/VBA exams that have ever been offered, as far as I know:

    70-039 Microsoft Excel 5.0 for Windows

    Launched: 1994 or earlier

    Discontinued: 1997-06-01

    70-052 Developing Applications with Microsoft Excel 5.0 Using Visual Basic for Applications

    Launched: 1994 or earlier

    Discontinued: 1998-11-01

    70-091 Designing and Implementing Solutions with Microsoft Office 2000 and Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications

    Launched: 1999-11-09

    Discontinued: 2003-06-30

    77-602 MCAS: Using Microsoft Office Excel 2007 [end-user-oriented]

    Launched: 2007-Mar


  15. Hi Alice,

    I hoped nobody would take me up on that offer.  šŸ™‚

    Actually, I don’t mind at all.  Somedays I struggle with finding something to write about on the blog so that will help with topics for sure.  

    NOTE: I am not the Product Planner for IT Pro certs, but I will work in conjunction with them to get the correct information posted.

    Also, thanks for that awesome research above for the answer to Prakesh’s question.  You are correct on the exam front.  We do have some MS Press books that would help learn the material, but no exam specific to VBA.



  16. James says:

    Hey Gerry,

    First off, would like to give myself a little pat on the back for actually passing the 70-272 exam as it was a bit rough. Secondly I would like to ask you exactly what sizing and file type is required for the image on the certificate because every time I go to design it through the certification mgr it comes up with the error "We were unable to find any qualified logos in your library." now I’ve already created the logo required at the momment (MCP) and downloaded it to my system and nothing is budging. So asking you is there some sort of means that I need to do to make this happen?

  17. Hi James,

    Is this the only exam that you have completed thus far?

    Once you can access the logo builder, you will be given access to the logos that you qualify for.  I’m not sure that you can actually get a logo for just an MCP as we no longer use the MCP as a certification for entry level.  You must complete an MCTS, MCITP or MCPD certification before you can actually use a logo now.

    I can’t verify that you can actually get an MCP logo now but I do have that logo available on my logo builder so if you have received your confirmation about the certification and you can access the site, you should be able to build the logo and then choose from the various download formats.


  18. AKEEL says:

    which certification i should do? 2.0 or 3.5 i dont have study material for asp.net3.5?(except dino’s book).

    Please Help!!!!!!!!!

  19. Hi Akeel,

    Too many people worry about not having the exact study guide or training kit for the exam they are getting ready for.  It doesn’t mean you can’t prepare for the exam successfully.

    I recommend ASP.NET 3.5 as it is the newest and latest version.  Dino’s books are great resources and although the one you refer to may not cover 3.5, as long as it covers 2.0, you can still use it.

    Here is my strategy.

    1) Look at the prep guide for the exam you want to take.  This will provide you with the material you need to prepare for.

    2) Locate a training kit or other resource for that exam as listed on the web site.  If there are no current resources for that exam, use the resources from a previous version.

    3) Use the MSDN documnetation to prep on the new material or material not covered in the current resources you have available.

    Best of luck


  20. Monika says:

    Guys any idea

    What is the passing % for MCTS – 070-528 Exam?

  21. Rohan says:

    I am new for microsoft technology and so i want more information about the certification exam..

    1) What are the levels of that exam?

    2) How to prepare for that?

    3) from where i got study materials?

    And if any one have usefull information about exam then please sheare with me.

  22. RAZIA says:


  23. Sanjyot says:

    Hello sir

    I wish to do certification in Dot net 3.5 (c#,ASP,VB),and SQLnew version.

    I want to do certification in maryland, new jersy or houston  and is there  centre available for training ?

    I will be highly obliged if you could provide me details which certification i need to choose.

    Thanking you


    Sanjyot Lawangare

  24. Hi Sanjyot,

    All of the information you need is in this posting and the following series.   I cannot tell you which certification you need to choose, that is your own decision based on your needs.

    Please visit for all the information you need regarding certifications options, requirements and the ability to search for related training.


  25. Nikunj says:

    I don’t have any cerificate of Microsoft.

    I want asp.net3.5(MCPD webdevloper) certificate.

    can u tell me how much fees of that?

  26. Nikunj,

    The fees are dependant on your country.

    Please visit, select the exam you want to take, choose your country and the exam cost will be displayed during the registration process.


  27. Bina says:


    I am a recent graduate with a Master’s in CS and am interested in Database works. But with little experience in the same, I thought certification would help. I came across the Exam 70-433 and others. Could you give me a brief response assisting me to decide which one I should take. I understand the decision has to be mine, but I am looking for inputs on what factors should help me decide. Like which one is good for beginners, and then which ones should be taken.

    Since I am interested in database development, I thought 70-433 is the right one for me. As I proceed will it be advisable to take the 70-432 or others.

    Thanks in advance.

  28. Hi Bina,

    My advice to you is this;

    Take a look at the prep guides for each exam and see what aspects they are testing.  Use this to determine if that is the area you want to focus on.  That will help you decide on the appropriate exam.

    Having said that, there are also aspects of administering an instance of SQL Server that you will need to understand as well.  You have to install and set up security for the database before you can actually program against it, unless someone has already done that for you.

    You don’t necessarily need to get certified on the administrative stuff, but you should at least have some training on it.

    Hope that helps a little.


  29. Smiley says:


    I am new to Microsoft Certifications. I want to go from basic level to professional level. I am interested in .NET 2.0, VS 2005, C#. Where do I have to start?

    Do I have to give first MCAD first? Please let me know the series which one to give first, level of exams I want to know. Input is highly appreciated.



  30. smiley7 says:

    Thanks Gerry.

    After going through your link. I am planning to take MCTS 70-536 certication.

    Would you please guide me, like which book to refer and how to start,any tips?

    .net framework 2.0, VS 2005, C#.

    Please guide me how to start and hit this exam.



  31. Hi Smiley,

    There are three things you need to do:

    1) Get the prep guide mentioned and look at what material will be covered on the exam.

    2) Use the MS Press training kit for this exam, or other suitable training material, and learn the content.

    3) Gain experience with the areas of knowledge listed and take the practice tests in the training kit manual.


  32. smiley7 says:

    Thanks Gerry for immediate response. I really appreciate it.

    I  didnt get the 1st point you mentioned.

    "1) Get the prep guide mentioned and look at what material will be covered on the exam." Which prep guide? Can you send me the link the one you are referring to.

    Thanks, again!


  33. Hi Smiley,

    In the post I pointed you to initially, part 1 of the series on certifications, listed all the certifications with links to their information pages.  On those pages, there are links to the exam prep guides.

    For exam 70-536 go here;


  34. Femi says:

    I hv MCTS(SQL 2005), i am confuse on which one to do again.

  35. Femi,

    What do you want to achieve?  Are you a Database Administrator of a Database Developer or are you into business intelligence?

    I assume you want to move to SQL Server 2008?  Or do you want to get an MCITP on SQL Server 2005?


  36. smiley says:

    Hi Gerry,

    I am taking this MCTS 70-536 Application Development foundation Exam. Do they give an option of language like or C#? Because in MCTS 70-528 web based exam, they clearly mentioned you choose either or c#. But I dont see in MCTS 70-536. Please tell me in which language( or c#) they will ask the questions?do we have an option? Please let me know as soon as possible.

    Thanks in advance.


  37. Hi Smiley,

    You will be given the option of choosing your language of choice.  For .NET 2.0, we have had VB, C#, and C++ although C++ is not available for all exams and is being phased out.

    You can choose between C# and VB for 536 as C++ is not available for that exam.


  38. Smiley says:

    Hi Gerry,

    Thanks for immediate response.

    Another quick question. For vb or c# it will be same questions or different questions?If i choose whatever questions I get in that, will be same in C# too?

  39. The only thing that changes is the code syntax.  The questions are exactly the same.


  40. Smiley says:

    Hi Gerry,

    Can you tell me how many total number of questions will be asked in MCTS 70-536 exam?

    Thanks in advance!

  41. Hi Smiley,

    I can’t.  Divulging information like that is against the non-disclosure agreement for the exams.

    I can tell you that you are alotted a total of 2 hours for the entire exam, including comment and review time but I cannot tell you how many questions to expect.

    I know, it sounds a little silly because you’re probably wondering, "What harm could it do?".  The fact of the matter is that the exams are not always the same each time they are given and that is for a specific reason.  So, even giving out the number of questions for an exam, could potentially tell you which version you might get.


  42. Andrew says:

    When it comes to #7 on the list, or upgrades in general, where do you go for reading materials?

    I’ve found some online classes through our Partner portal, but there’s very little reading material for upgrade certs, it seems.

  43. HI Andrew,

    I’ll let others respond with what they use but for me, I use the prep guide for the exam, and the SQL Server Books Online or MSDN documentation.


  44. Smiley says:

    Hi Gerry,

    I had Successfully passed MCTS(.NET web client development 2.0)

    I have few questions regarding MCAD. Can you tell me how to earn MCAD what exams I have to take. I am web developer, so that’s my specific area is Web designing and developing.I saw in the web site, but it has many exams related to web developer. Do I have to take all of them to earn MCAD? I am working on .net framework 2.0 and VS 2005. Please let me know.



  45. Hi Smiley,

    Congrats on passing!

    Now, as for MCAD, remove it from your mind.  It is no longer achievable as the exams required for that certification have retired.

    Focus on the MCTS and MCPD certifications instead.


  46. Smiley says:

    Hi Gerry,

    Thanks for your reply.

    Now I am preparing for MCPD.So after that what is the next exam to take?

    I thought this is the order MCTS, MCPD, MCAD and MCSD.

    Since those exams are retired its just MCTS and MCPD? No other exams beyond that?

    Thanks again.


  47. Hi Smiley,

    Once you complete your MCPD, there are no "higher" certifications that you can take.

    You can however, concentrate on the other MCPD certifications such as the Windows or Enterprise MCPD.


  48. Thabo Payi says:

    I am new to Microsoft certifications.  Where do I start?

    I’m in South Africa(Cape Town)

    List of things i would like to know :

           1. How Much is Certification Exam Fee?

           2. How to arrange for writing exam?

           3. Is there an Exam venue in Cape Town?

  49. damodharan says:


    I am appearing for 70-536 Application Development Foundation course, I am searching for exam questions and patterns.

    If anyone could provide the details it will be helpful



  50. Hi,

    What are you referring to when you ask about exam questions and patterns?


  51. siva kumar says:

    I want to learn with how can i stepin to this

  52. Hi Siva,

    For learning, you want to look at courseware and not certifications.  Once you learn enough of a specific technology, then you can look at certifications.

    Search here for courses on C# and .NET.


  53. Muralekarthick says:

    Hi Gerry,

    I plan to write MCTS 70-562, but it needs prerequisite 70-536 to be cleared, My question is should i have to pay 70-536 as well, as i am from UK, microsoft online help people said its 750 pounds + tax for each mcts. Can tell me whether i have spend 750 for mcts 70-536, if i intend to gain mcts 70-562..

  54. Muralekrthick,

    Any exam you take, unless it is in beta, must be paid for.  So yes, you have to pay for 70-536 as well as 70-562.

    Microsoft does not charge by the certification, we charge by the exam.  Each exam is $125 USD.  I can’t validate the exchange rate right now but when I compare it, I see 77 GBP for an equivalent of $125 USD.

    Remember, MCTS is a credential or certification.  You must pass 70-536 and 70-562 to get the ASP.NET MCTS credential.  70-536 and 70-562 are exams, not MCTS certifications.

    So, it should only cost you $125 plus $125 for a total $250 USD for both exams.  My sidebar gadget conversion shows me 154.125 GBP.


  55. kunal says:

    respected sir,

    i read ur blogs nice one.i cleared most of my doubts.

    i want to give 70-536 & 70-562 exams.i just want to know what is the max. time period between these two exam should available.means if i gave 70-536 on 20th then in how many days(max time) should i complete my next exam i.e. 70-562.

          expecting ur rply soon.

                                         thanks sir

  56. Hi kunal,

    You can take these exams on the same day if you want to.  There is no time restrictions between one exam and another.


  57. kunal says:

    Respected sir,

      i passed mcts. thnks.

      i have another doubt, where i would be found blogs or fourms on crystal reports.can u please suggest me some link which will provide me sufficent knowledge abt crystal reports.

     thanks once again.

  58. Congratulations Kunal,

    For Crystal Reports blogs, look here;

    Bing is your friend.


Comments are closed.

Skip to main content