How to Become a Microsoft Certified Application Developer

Find out how to become a Microsoft Certified Application Developer. Research the training requirements and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in Microsoft application development.

Should I Become a Microsoft Certified Application Developer?

The Microsoft Certified Application Developer (MCAD) program was designed for individuals who develop Web-based and client-based applications. However, Microsoft has retired the MCAD certification. Candidates may instead be interested in the Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD) credential. MCPD certification shows that an individual has proficiency with Windows Developer, ASP.NET Developer, Azure Developer, Web Developer, or Enterprise Application Developer using either the 2008 or 2010 Visual Studio platform. Microsoft also offers MCPD certifications for Windows phone, Silverlight, and SharePoint 2010, as well as other development programs and platforms.

Software developers, including application developers, work in a range of industries; as technology advances, the prevalence of applications, especially mobile applications, has become a requirement of success for businesses in all fields. The majority of such application developers work full-time in an office setting, though some may be able to telecommute. Much of their work may be completed independently, but collaboration is required on almost all projects.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Certification Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD)
Prerequisites Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) exams
Experience 2-3 years' experience with Microsoft development products
Key Skills Strong problem solving and communication skills, .NET Framework, Visual Studio and other software development programs
Salary (2014) $95,510 per year (Median salary for applications software developers)

Sources:, job postings from August 2012, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2014).

Step 1: Research Certifications and Choose a Certification Path

The MCPD certification is intended for those with at least 2-3 years' experience in the creation, use and maintenance of Microsoft applications. MCPDs analyze and implement technical and business requirements by building and deploying solution architectures. Applicants must decide which product they want to become certified in and choose from different MCPD modules. Some are designed for those working with Web-based applications, others are for Web-based client development and still others are for application development.

Success Tip:

  • Become familiar with Microsoft products. Microsoft recommends that MCPD candidates have 2-3 years' experience working with the product in which they seek certification. Individuals may benefit by becoming familiar with various Microsoft technologies and choosing the product that they want to focus on early in the process.

Step 2: Complete a Training Program

Some schools offer MCPD training or certificate programs, with courses designed to prepare students for the MCTS and MCPD exams. MCPD training programs are often designed for programmers, developers and other IT professionals who want to enhance their credibility and keep up with the latest technologies. These programs typically take from several months to one year to complete, and they focus on various Microsoft development programs, application development, and programming languages.

Step 3: Complete the MCTS and MCPD Exams

To qualify for MCPD certification, all candidates must complete prerequisite MCTS exams. These exams typically cover SharePoint and Visual Studio technologies, such as .NET Framework application development, data access and foundation development, depending on the candidate's area of expertise. After completing the required MCTS exams for a specific MCPD path, individuals must complete an MCPD exam in their area of expertise. Each exam focuses on a specific Microsoft product, such as Visual Studio 2008 and 2010, SharePoint 2010, Silverlight 4 or Windows Phone.

Step 4: Seek Advancement Opportunities

Qualified MCPDs may look for opportunities to become information technology (IT) project managers. IT managers oversee the work of other software developers.

Related to How to Become a Microsoft Certified Application Developer

Search Degrees, Careers, or Schools