Why Doesn’t Microsoft Have Entry Level Developer Certifications?



I struggle some days for topics to blog about, that’s how exciting my life is.  🙂  Usually Trika comes to the rescue as she did again here.  She forwarded a question on to me the other day where somebody asked the question that is the title of this posting.   I thought it was a great question, I answered his email, but then Trika mentioned it would make a good post to my blog so, here it is.

The reason we don’t have an entry level cert for developers, ie one that certifies a person with less than 1 or 2 years of experience, is that it creates a difficult scenario to certify.  Let me explain why.

In order to certify a person for entry level, it would require certification on core programming concepts such as data structures, decisions, looping, OOP etc.  These topics are valid across multiple development languages and are not tied to VB, C#, C++, Java or most other development languages.

As a result, they are core knowledge that a person needs before they consider what to develop on for platforms and in what languages.   As a result, this becomes more of an industry certification that is vendor neutral.  That is something that Microsoft does not currently certify people on.  We leave these types of certifications to independent organizations such as CompTIA and IEEE.  They provide a better environment for testing on these concepts and it removes any interpretations around Microsoft certifying people on the “Microsoft way of doing things”.

Microsoft certifications are designed to show knowledge and skills with Microsoft products and technologies.  You apply the core concepts learned in entry level programming across these technologies such ASP.NET or Windows Forms.  As a result of this, there is a requirement that a person meets a minimum level of knowledge prior to taking these certifications.  



Comments (16)
  1. Darren Oster says:

    Interesting post.  As a current MCP/MCSE who is currently pursuing further Microsoft Certification (MCTS – just passed 70-536, first time – thanks for the webcast, Trika!), I wonder also whether an Entry Level Developer Certification has a limited useful life.  I don’t remember getting a ‘Certification’ for passing 3rd grade at school (it’s just an example – I’m not comparing entry level developers to 3rd graders…), it was just a stepping stone to fourth grade.  The first ‘certification’ that ‘really mattered’ was at the end of high school (perhaps equiv. to MCP), then at the end of University (MCTS?).  Maybe one day I’ll head on to a post-grad degree (MCPD)?

  2. Beginner Microsoft Developer Certifications Do Not Exist

  3. Perhaps I know the answer to this already, but does this mean that the passing of a MCTS exam certifies you on the Microsoft product you’re being tested on AND that you previously had an entry level understanding of core programming concepts?

  4. int19h says:

    Hm, I’ve always considered MCTS to be entry-level developer cert, to be honest. But then again, I’m MCSD/MCPD, so perhaps I’m biased 🙂

  5. Hi Rafael,

    Our exams certify that you have an understanding of the concepts that are presented on prep guide.  We only assume, whether it is true or not, that you already have the requisite knowledge but the exam doesn’t test those concepts directly.


  6. I agree with int19h, I also considered MCTS to be entry level and MCPD to be medium level certs :). So the question is – why don’t we have advanced level certifications? Like the new Certified Master, but for developers. I already asked in the MCT newsgroups if there are plans for a developer certified master, but I did not get any answers there.

  7. Hi Mathias,

    The short is, maybe.

    Yes, I would like to create a Masters for developers.  What will it look like and when will it be available?  

    I honestly don’t know at this stage.


  8. Alfred Myers says:

    I agree with both int19h and Mathias and would very much like to see a "Master" certification for developers.

    Knowing well the operating system, Active Directory, Windows authentication and authorization, Networking, performance, debugging, troubleshooting would be among the things I would expect from a "Master" developer.

  9. Hi Alfred,

    Patience will pay off.

    In the meantime, it sounds like you’re on board for getting some certifications on the IT infrastructure.  Glad to hear that.  🙂


  10. int19h says:

    We’re yet to see MCPD for .NET 3.x, so I wouldn’t expect to see any further developments anytime soon 🙂

  11. Gerry: good to hear that you at least think about offering something for devs. I would not be able to afford the master for the next 2 years anyways (I just found out how much it will cost – no way I could pay that much 🙁 ).


  12. laurasaur says:

    I totally agree with int19h.. I think the lifespan of a entry level developer certification would be very short lived and not really bring a whole heap to the table.

    Employers have a hard enough time getting their head around the whole MCP/MCTS/MCPD .NET 2.0/.NET 3.0 situation at the moment.

    Master certification would be cool though.


  13. Your Cousin Vinny says:

    Okay, I’ve been a desktop support geek for about 10 years, certified back in 1999 as an NT 4.0 MCP/MCSE. I like working in this area okay enough but I’m starting to experience a little burn out and notice that developers really seem to fair alot better as far as career. I’ll admit I have looked @ Java as a sort of jumping off point but I’m starting to think I started with Microsoft and there’s no sense in changing now and I want to stay on the cutting edge if I can. Any suggestions would be most sincerely appreciated. Email is vince.harris@gmail.com

  14. Hi Vinny,

    A change in focus is certainly a good thing when your start to lose a passion for your current direction.  Before I got into IT fulltime, I was an HVAC/R Technician.  I got into computer programming partly through that field by programming PLCs, direct digital controls systems and other computer based control systems for HVAC and refrigerations systems.

    Before you step into either Java or the Microsoft platform of development, you need to understand some fundamentals and basics around programming.  You can learn control structures such as repetition and decision making while you are still working in the desktop support field.  Start looking into scripting technologies such as VBScript and JScript to manipulate Active Directory or other OS components.  There are tons of free tutorials on the Web and lots of good books.

    Once you have those concepts down, and decide you like this field, look for training on basic object oriented programming concepts.  You will need this understanding before taking any training or certification on Java or Microsoft .NET.  They use OOP principles throughout everything you do.

    Once you have a good grasp on the above prerequisites, you can then consider the .NET certifications if you choose to do so.

    Hope that helps in some way.


  15. Paul F says:

    I realize I am posting in the wrong place, but I could not find the blog that I was looking at earlier. Any way, my comment is still relevant to the discussion.

    Why is it that MS (or MS Press) has not released any information about the release of the Training Kit for 70-562?

    You mentioned that it will be months before its release. Do you know more about that?

    The "new and upcoming" page in MS Learning shows the release line up through June of 2009 and there is no mention of this book. Does that mean that it will come out after June of 2009?

  16. Hi Paul,

    I am getting the release information on those books and will create a new post containing that information.

    Look for it in the next couple of days.


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