Microsoft Certifications - What why and how

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Many a times Microsoft(R) certifications related questions are asked in the Discussion Forums. In this post I am trying to clarify some doubts about it. My effort here is to provide a clear initial guidance (in simple words) to the readers to understand what are the benefits of Microsoft certifications, why to go for this and how to go for it.
Read How to start your software career? before this article.
NOTE/UPDATE (28-Sep-2015): Most of the content of this article is still valid, however as the time changes few programs have been discontinued. Do read the comment section for the update. I have tried to update the article to the best of my knowledge.

If you want, you can participate in .NET Certification Discussion Forums

Most of the information written here are based on the Microsoft(R) certifications website. I am not expert in this so if any of the information written here are outdated or wrong, kindly let me know and I shall promptly correct it.

First of all what is Microsoft Certification?

Microsoft certification is a course or exam conducted by Microsoft(R) through a vendor called Prometric. The certification exam is taken on computer system on a software that basically a windows based application (not sure if this has changed now) that gives you multiple choice options for a question and you have to select one answer out of them.

There is no ranking system here, either your pass or fail however you are given percentage (how much percentage you have got in this exam). Naturally the more percentage you got the better it is for you :)

Why to do Microsoft certifications?

It is not mandatory to get certified from Microsoft in order to work in the Microsoft Technologies neither it is mandatory to get certified to get a good job in the software company. However it gives you a + anywhere you go when you are a Microsoft certified. Now you may ask question why it gives a +, below are few reason
  1. Personal benefit: All certifications courses are based on the real time scenario problem solutions. Naturally when you get the certificate you must have studied for it. Studying gives you enough knowledge to solve any kind of the problem that you might face in your day to day life as a software professional. It saves a lot of time of yours and makes you more productive. As a result you become very confident and valuable.
  2. Professional benefit: 
    • When there is a crowd of candidates for the job, a resume with Microsoft certification logos gives more weight and as a result there is more chance of your resume getting shortlisted.
    • When the interviewer or employer sees your resume with Microsoft certifications logo, in the first instance itself they get a good feeling about you and hopefully you will be treated in much better way.
    • You get a MCP community website credentials where you will have opportunity to interact with many professionals like you that gives you a lot of exposure and naturally opportunity too.
    • You get respect from your fellow members too :)
Always remember that all these comes only when you have knowledge, only a piece of paper can give you a temporary respect, money etc. but it doesn't exists for long time so believe more on learning than getting certifications some how.

How does this certification benefit the software company?

When client offers a project to the company naturally they expect the best engineers to work for them. It is not like engineers who are not Microsoft(R) certified are not good, there are many engineers out there who are awesome without any certifications or degree. Do you know Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft and Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple are school/college drop outs?. However all are not Bill Gates and clients do understand it. So when they offer a project to the software company and company tells that their engineers are Microsoft Certified, the client gets a good feeling about it and get confidence about good delivery of the project (not sure if company gets good billing rates as well ;) ). 

How to start and what are steps to proceed for the certifications?

Very frequently asked question ! 

First start reading about Microsoft(R) technology. There is no lack of resources to learn from, if you are willing to learn. DotNetFunda.Com website is one of many resources online from where you can start learning. For, start with tutorials.

These certifications are designed for beginners as well as for expert professionals. Lets go through all different certifications step by step. 

Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA)
If you are a student and planning to start your career in software development and also want to get certified, this certification is for you. If you are already working and you have basic knowledge of software development, you can skip this.

To know more about MTA, click here.

Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS)
As the name suggest, this is to become specialist in a particular technology. If you are working (more than one year) and have a interest in a specific technology, want to go in-depth into that technology to become a specialist this certification is for you.

This certification is offered in different different technologies, to name a few
  • Visual Studio (Windows or Web development)
  • Sql Server
  • Sharepoint
  • Windows Mobile 
  • etc.
To get MCTS in Microsoft .NET Framework 4, Web Applications, you need to pass Exam 70-515.

It is not mandatory to first clear the MTA before appearing into the MCTS exams. To know more about MCTS, click here.

Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD - OUTDATED NOW )
This certifications are for those who are already MCTS and want to get certified for demonstrating their comprehensive knowledge on developing, designing specific type of applications. This is platform specific and at the time of this writing it is available with Visual Studio 2010.

Pre-requisite: 2-3 years of experience
Ideal:  MCTS certified, however you may directly opt for this and clear the pre-requisite exams of MCTS along with this exam

To get the MCPD in Designing & Developing Web applications using Microsoft.NET Framework 4.0, you will need to pass following exams
  1. MCTS prerequisite: TS: Web Applications Development with Microsoft .NET Framework 4 - Exam 70-515
  2. MCTS prerequisite: TS: Windows Communication Foundation Development with Microsoft .NET Framework 4 - Exam 70-513
  3. MCTS prerequisite: TS: Accessing Data with Microsoft .NET Framework 4 - Exam 70-516
  4. MCPD requirement (Now this is outdated, instead do MCSD): PRO: Designing and Developing Web Applications Using Microsoft .NET Framework 4 - Exam 70-519
Similarly, there are many other MCPD as well eg. MCPD in Windows Developer, MCPD on Windows Phone, SharePoint etc. To know more about MCPD, click here.

In case you are looking for assistance/training on .NET technologies to expedite the learning process, click here.

Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP)
As the MCTS, this certification is also specific to a particular technology and for a particular job role (eg. Database administrator, windows server administrator etc.). It might be possible to get more than one MCTS when you get MCITP.

To get MCITP in Database Administrator 2008, you need to pass following exams

  1. TS: Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Implementation and Maintenance - Exam 70-432
  2. PRO: Designing, Optimizing and Maintaining a Database Administrative Solution Using Microsoft SQL Server 2008 - Exam 70-450
Similarly, MCITP: Database Developer 2008 is also available. To know more about MCITP, click here.

Microsoft Certified Master (MCM)
This program is for highly experienced and qualified professionals who want to get certifications from Microsoft in designing and implementing solutions to the complex business requirements. This certifications are offered in various server technologies eg. SharePoint, SQL Server etc. For most of these certifications, you are required to pass at least one of the MCITP subject.

For more information about MCM, click here.

Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA) - Outdated now
This program is very advance certification program and top on the rank and available to only those who have already worked as architect for many years and want to get Microsoft certifications. MCM is the pre-requisite for this certification.

To know more about MCA, click here.

Hope after going through this article, you should have enough information about Microsoft(R) certifications to start with. Thanks for reading. Do not forget to subscribe for the RSS feed to get new articles alert directly into your inbox.

Do let me know your comments or suggestions. 

Disclaimer: This post is written for the benefit of those who are looking for initial guidelines for the Microsoft(R) certifications. As the time passes, this information may get outdated. For latest information on Microsoft(R) Certifications, visit the Microsoft Certifications website.

Read How to become a successful software professional after this article.
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About the Author

Full Name: Sheo Narayan
Member Level: HonoraryPlatinum
Member Status: Administrator
Member Since: 7/8/2008 6:32:14 PM
Country: India
Regards, Sheo Narayan

Ex-Microsoft MVP, Author, Writer, Mentor & architecting applications since year 2001. Connect me on | |

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Comments or Responses

Posted by: Naimishforu on: 7/13/2011 | Points: 25

I thought of writing the same, but thanks to you Sheo, it's pretty much self explainable.

Posted by: Samarmir on: 7/13/2011 | Points: 25
Very nice article.
Posted by: Akiii on: 7/13/2011 | Points: 25
Excellent information for those who are planning to go forward for certifications Sir...

Thanks and Regards
Posted by: Jpchoudhari on: 7/14/2011 | Points: 25
nice post!!!! :-)

Thanks and Regards,
Jaydeep Choudhari
Posted by: Ugain on: 7/14/2011 | Points: 25
Simple and precise - very useful information.
Posted by: SheoNarayan on: 7/14/2011 | Points: 25
Thanks everyone!!!

Finally I received a response from a gem on the earth, uGain (guess who)?

Please share this to all your friends and colleagues!!!

Posted by: Sankettt on: 10/9/2011 | Points: 25
hey can u tell me about the 70-536 exams.?
im giving this exam soon
Posted by: Sankettt on: 10/9/2011 | Points: 25
im a fresher as well.
so please help me

Posted by: Itechsasi on: 10/25/2012 | Points: 25
Hi SheoNarayan ,

It is very useful and gives basic idea about Microsoft Certificate.I am going to do 70-515.

Posted by: Sangeetha Mani on: 4/11/2013 | Points: 25
Hi Sheo,

hi saw your article, actually am 1 year experience in dotnet, i was searched about MCTS in other website also , there they mentioned .NET Certification start with .Net frame work 2.0.... but in ur article u mentioned , To get MCTS in Microsoft .NET Framework 4, Web Applications, you need to pass Exam 70-515...

actually my doubt is which exam wil start first either .Net frame work 2.0...or .NET Framework 4, ?

or else before start with .Net framework 4 , i have to finish the .net frame work 2.0?

or else directly i wil start exam with .Net framework 4 ?

if i start with .net framework 4.0, which exam i wil take first from the below mentioned exam based on my one year experience in Dot net?
MCTS prerequisite: TS: Web Applications Development with Microsoft .NET Framework 4 - Exam 70-515
MCTS prerequisite: TS: Windows Communication Foundation Development with Microsoft .NET Framework 4 - Exam 70-513
MCTS prerequisite: TS: Accessing Data with Microsoft .NET Framework 4 - Exam 70-516
MCPD requirement: PRO: Designing and Developing Web Applications Using Microsoft .NET Framework 4 - Exam 70-519

Posted by: Unit 2013 on: 8/6/2013 | Points: 25
Hello SheoNarayan,

i really impressed by reading this article and How to start your software career? article ...first time anyone describe all this things in a very simple and easy manner...this all show that u r really a experienced person..who know all this things clearly..

actually m also looking for certification in Microsoft...i have 3 year experience 1.5 year in IT and 2 year in lecturer u mentioned 3 option by which we can get job in IT...i got 3rd option ..and my plan was same but in between i have to come US with my husband ...m on h4 visa could u please help me what should i do so that i can work again in india after come back form US.

i really thought u can guide me ..

waiting for reply ..
Posted by: Rajnilari2015 on: 9/27/2015 | Points: 25
@Sheo, this post is very informative but over the period of time it has become old (:
Now it is of MCSD ( ).
Many certifications like Microsoft Certified Master (MCM),Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD),Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA) are outdated now.
MCPD has been replaced by MCSD.
I have recently(29th Aug 2015) completed my MCSD Web Applications ( ) .
In a q/a forum ( ) of DNF, I have shared my experience about the same.
Also there is MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect program ( ) which is very nice.
Requesting you to update the article so that the others will be benefited from the latest offer of MS certification.
Thanks and Regards
Niladri Biswas
Posted by: Sheonarayan on: 9/28/2015 | Points: 25
Thanks for the update Rajnilari, I have tried to update the article to the best of my knowledge.

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