“ Microsoft Certified Solution Developer (MCSD) for Microsoft .NET candidates are required to pass four core exams and one elective exam. The core exams provide a valid and reliable measure of technical proficiency and expertise in developing and maintaining enterprise applications that are based on Microsoft development tools, technologies, and platforms. The elective exam provides proof of expertise with a specific Microsoft server product. „
I had selected a degree in Eng & Psy at university which I followed up with a MBA. A few years later the IT industry really started to take off here in Belfast, N. Ireland and I felt that it would be a good time to move into it. For those of us, who do not already have qualifications or experience in IT (specifically software development), gaining some qualifications to get that all important first start is vital. Of the many options that I considered, the MCSD track seemed to suit me best - unlike a degree course, which would prove expensive and time consuming, studying for MCP exams can be quite reasonable cost-wise in comparison to degree courses and can also allow flexible studying as well as setting suitable exam dates. Initially with the MCSD track, you tend to select one particular computer language e.g. Visual Basic, and that can limit your options when finding a job - another negative thing is that the exams are retired frequently. It has been my experience that a vast majority of software houses have clients in the USA, and holding a qualification that is widely recognised and understood in the USA can only make you more attractive to companies at home, as your qualification becomes a selling point. From my own personal experience, I have found that I could gain my MCSD quicker that a degree or other conversion course and that many companies saw it as a suitable alternative to one, and it has allowed me to enter the fast-moving software industry despite having no background. I would advise anyone in a similar position to consider a similar strategy, as an MCSD, or even a couple of MCP exams, with no other IT qualifications or experience, can lead to an entry level/graduate level position.
I'm a software developer, working at a site that uses several technologies, Oracle, Microsoft and also legacy systems - COBOL, VME, UNIX, etc... I became an MCSD when Windows Architecture I & II were still current, to update I needed to pass Analysis Requirments & Defining Solution Architecture.. and also the core Visual Basic exams... At the same time Microsoft were reducing the benefits, when I passed the MCSD last time I got MCSD and Tech Net Plus FREE.. no such luck this time... So would you put the work in to get less benefits..? Not only that but Microsoft were retiring exams that are still current.. Visual Basic 5, Windows NT 4.0, SQL Server 6.5... Most developer jobs I went for more or less said what do you want MCSD for, MCSE they could understand but MCSD no way... Developers turn there nose up at the certification... They more or less said that MCSD didn't prove anything... they wanted proven experience.. not a bit of paper... If you got the experience and what the paper then fine... your showing someone you have the skills to use the technology... but do go chasing the paper without the experience.... Microsoft are re-looking at the MCSD as we speek, to include Visual Studio .NET and C#, does this mean they'll drop the Visual Basic 6.0 exams and make us all C# developers..... Study the exams of intrest to you, don't go for the whole track if you don't use the products... 'If you don't use it you'll lose it!'
I achieved this certification over a year ago and there were a number of reasons why I started working towards it. One was to gain the knowledge - which is no bad thing. I certainly learnt a lot about my chosen specialist subjects. You are required to know your subjects in a lot of detail in order to pass these exams. But this in depth knowledge comes with plenty of good experience and not so much from text books. One of the other reasons I went for this certification was to make it easier to find another job. Well in the five years I have been contracting I have never had a day off between contracts. The market is so strong that this requirement has not been needed yet, but it is a nice safety net to have in case I need it. One other reason was the hope of increased money. In reality the money you earn comes from the experience you have and the certifications that you have make very little difference. I was hoping that having these exams under my belt would mean no more technical tests at inteview. No such luck, people still need to check that you can use the knowledge that you have and in this respect we are back to experience again. So when I set out all of the reasons I had initially when I started the certification work have been invalidated by experience. So what am I left with - nothing to show for the work but a bit of paper and a nice lapel pin, a card with my qualification on it, a free subscription to the MSDN and a free magazine, oh and don't forget the nice engraved glass block because I was one of the first 1000 in the world to get this certification. I have much more than all that - I have a qualification that will give me the edge against my colleagues and I have pride in achieving it when so many are still trying. I have the detailed knowledge that I may still not have got in some areas. So I am a happy man with this worthwhile certification.