Microsoft Certifications: Where Do I Start? (Part 1of 2)

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

This question comes up a lot and quite frankly, I can understand why.  Microsoft has a plethora of certifications that go way back to early versions of Visual Basic, C++ and SQL Server.  We have changed designations over the years which has added confusion.  So, the purpose of this first post in the series is to help you understand our certification story and then point out suggested paths for getting started.

Microsoft Certification Designations

Most people are likely familiar with the credentials known as Microsoft Certified Solution Solutions Developer (MCSD) and Microsoft Certified Application Developer (MCAD).   These credentials have served our certified community well over the past few years but there were, and are issues with those credentials now.

Before the .NET Framework came along, these certifications fit well with developers because they were certified as developers creating applications on Windows using either Visual Basic or Visual C++.

Enter .NET and the ability to develop in VB, C#, C++, J# etc.  Windows applications, Web applications, client-side scripting, Web Services.  It got to the point where hiring managers had no idea what qualifications a candidate had by looking at the MCSD or MCAD credential anymore.  We had to find a way to fix this.

As technologies change and get added or removed to Visual Studio and the Microsoft development world, certifications must keep up.  This is why we created the new generation of certifications listing Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS), Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD) and Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional (MCITP) as the credentials that would help to alleviate these issues.

By creating the new generation of certifications, we are now able to provide credentials that focus on technologies.  At first it was simple, MCTS Windows Developer meant you were certified to create applications for Microsoft Windows using .NET.  It didn't say you could create Web apps, nor did it say you could create distributed apps.  Now, we have more technologies, Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) and Workflow Foundation (WF).  Not a problem, the new generation of certifications is able to keep pace.

So for a software developer, what is currently available?  The following certifications are available now;

TS: .NET Framework 2.0 Windows Applications
TS: .NET Framework 2.0 Web Applications
TS: .NET Framework 2.0 Distributed Applications
MCPD: Windows Developer
MCPD: Web Developer
MCPD: Enterprise Applications Developer

And for SQL Server;

MCTS: SQL Server 2005
MCTS: SQL Server 2005 Business Intelligence
MCITP: Database Administrator
MCITP: Database Developer
MCITP: Business Intelligence Developer

I encourage you to visit these links to view the preparation guides and requirements for these certifications as to post that here would make this way too long, and you would go away before completing it.  The Visual Studio 2008 and SQL Server 2008 certifications are coming out soon so I will cover what to do about those in tomorrow's and the remaining posts.

How do I get there?

Now you know what certifications are currently available, how you go about getting one or more of them depends a great deal on you.  Have answers to these questions for tomorrow's post, and it will help you decide which path is right for you.

1) What technology do I want to concentrate on?

2) What technology is my company using now and what will we be using in the future?

3) What is your job role? (Developer, Team Lead, Lead Developer, Management etc)

4) How soon do I want to be certified.

Until tomorrow.


Comments (11)
  1. I'm new to Microsoft certifications.  Where do I start? This question comes up a lot and quite

  2. Interesting point at

  3. At the suggestion and example of many of you good people, for example, our friend Wayne , we are hosting

  4. At the suggestion and example of many of you good people, for example, our friend Wayne , we are hosting

  5. Alice says:

    Thanks for these informative posts!

    I did notice an error in here…

    "By creating the new generation of certifications, we are not able to provide credentials that focus on technologies."

    I’m guessing this was intended to say "we are now able to provide" instead?

  6. Thank you for catching that Alice.  It was a small typo but a huge mistake in the meaning it represented.  I can’t believe I missed.

    Not to mention the T and W have two while keys separating them.  🙂

    I’m glad you find these posts useful and informative.  Our certifications and options are not always clear, and when we change or add new components, it muddies the waters even more.  So I hope this series has helped to clear some things up.

    Thanks again for the sharp eyes!


  7. I’m going to type up some of the things John and J talked about in this morning’s SharePoint certification

  8. UTHRA BALAJI says:

    I am Uthra Balaji doing my Final year engineering in  chennai.I am really interested in doing a MS Certification in .Net Framework 2.0 WebApplications. The Link is not getting connected . I dont know where is the problem. If you can really help me please give the entire details like what are the requirements for doing that certifiacation like should i have to write any entry level test and other stuff. Also where to register for that certification and how much is the fee.Waiting for your response.

  9. Hi Uthra,

    What link are you referring to that is not working?

    For these exams, the prices vary from country to country but they are typically $125 USD.

    You can register for these exams by going to and creating an account with them, then stepping through the registration process.

    All of the links above including the remainder of this series answers all your questions on how to get started and where to go.  Please read through these first and if you have any issues, then let me know and I will help you get set up to take your exams.


  10. Hi Neo,

    I can’t answer that question for you because I am not famailiar with you Master Degree in Applications.

    If you can provide more context, I may be able to compare and contrast for you.


  11. Ramesh says:


    Iam ramesh from uk pursuing masters in computerscience .i completed my second semester and doing a project using .net and now i want to do certification in .net,i have gone through  different links and different blogs and not able to understand where to start and confused about different certifications from microsoft.can u pls help me in identifying my path. desparatly waiting for ur suggestionssssss

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