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.

Do I Want to Be 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 office settings, though some may be able to telecommute. Much of their work may be completed independently, but collaboration is required on almost all projects.

Job Requirements

Candidates must gain experience working with specific Microsoft development products and pass a certification exam to become certified. They must also pass prerequisite exams, including Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) exams, to obtain the MCPD certification. Many candidates take advantage of MCPD training programs offered by educational institutions to prepare them for the certification exam(s). The following table lists the most important skills and requirements for MCPD candidates.

Common Requirements
Certification Title Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD)*
Certification Options Microsoft Visual Studio 2010, Microsoft Visual Studio 2008, Windows Phone, Microsoft Sharepoint 2010 and Microsoft Silverlight 4*
Prerequisites Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) exams*
Experience 2-3 years' experience with Microsoft development products*
Key Skills Strong problem solving and communication skills**
Computer Skills .NET Framework, Visual Studio, other development programs relevant to intended certification*

Sources: *, ** job postings from August 2012.

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.

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