Once you’ve decided that a .NET developer certification deserves a closer look, the next step is getting your head around the requirements for the .NET Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) and Microsoft Certified Application Developer (MCAD) certifications. Let's take a look at the requirements for each certification and examine why Microsoft made such a radical shift in its certification scheme.
Requirements for an MCSD
Obtaining an MCSD requires that you pass four tests: two in your language path—either VB.NET or C# .NET—plus the 70-300 architecture test and one elective. Figure A lists the testing requirements in detail.
One aspect of the elective requirement needs some clarification. For your elective exam, you can, should you desire, take the optional exam from your language path or from the other language path. For example, assuming you take the C# .NET Web (70-315) and XML Web Services (70-320) exams, you could satisfy your elective requirement by taking the Windows exam from either the VB.NET (70-306) or C# .NET (70-316) path.
What if I already have an MCSD?
The bad news is that if you’re already an MCSD, it’s not likely that many of your previous tests will count toward .NET certification. Microsoft has changed the flavor of its premium certification to totally reflect the new VB.NET and C# .NET world. That means that you’ll probably have to retake a few tests; the only ones that will count towards the new certification are three elective exams:
- Exam 70-229: Designing and Implementing Databases with Microsoft SQL Server 2000, Enterprise Edition
- Exam 70-230: Designing and Implementing Solutions with Microsoft BizTalk Server 2000, Enterprise Edition
- Exam 70-234: Designing and Implementing Solutions with Microsoft Commerce Server 2000
The good news is that because the core exams follow one of two language paths, you can at least continue in the next version of the language with which you are already most comfortable: VB.NET for VB6 or C# .NET for C++. This, of course, doesn’t mean that you won’t have to work to learn these new variations, but at least you’ll have a good starting point and some context in which to view the changes Microsoft has made with the .NET development environment.
What about the MCAD?
The MCAD certification is Microsoft’s entry-level developer certification, and as such, its testing requirements are a little less stringent. To earn an MCAD, you’ll be required to pass a total of three tests: Two in your chosen language path (either VB .NET or C#) and one elective. Interestingly, you’ll have to pass these same tests to obtain an MCSD, meaning that your MCAD exams count towards the MCSD exam requirements should you later decide to pursue the premium certification. Figure B shows the full testing requirements for an MCAD.
What’s Microsoft thinking?
If these new certification schemes make it seem like Microsoft is purposefully trying to push developers into a new world, it’s because it is. Cushing Anderson, program director for Learning Service Research with IDC, says that Microsoft is eliminating brand competition between its own certifications and making .NET the only specialty available. Since developers tend to use the technology with which they are the most familiar, Microsoft hopes that .NET will be what developers will reach for when it comes time to pick a development platform for their projects.
“What Microsoft is doing is making this the only direction they’re going,” Anderson says. “It sounds to me as if they’ve thought about this enough and that they don’t want competing certs and competing specializations.” In other words, if you want a Microsoft developer certification, there’s no way around the new requirements.