Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD): Certificate & Online Course Info

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What will you learn in a Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD) program? Read about requirements, the pros and cons of a certificate and potential careers.
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Studying MCPD: Programs at a Glance

Information technology (IT) professionals interested in demonstrating their ability in applications development can benefit from Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD) certification. The certification exam requires 2-3 years of work experience in applications design using Visual Studio, Microsoft .NET framework and related Microsoft programs.

Depending on the development application that you use, you can specialize in Visual Studio 2005, 2008 or 2010, Windows Phone, Microsoft SharePoint 2010 or Silverlight 4, according to Microsoft's website. Within each Visual Studio category, there are certifications, such as Windows Azure Developer, ASP.NET Developer 3.5 and Web Developer 4. Certification holders can work as computer programmers, software analysts, web developers and software developers.

Who is this degree for? Experienced information technology professionals seeking to demonstrate their applications development expertise
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Computer programmer ($76,000)*
- Software applications developer ($92,000)*
- Computer systems analyst ($82,000)*
- Web developer ($82,000)*
Time to Completion Less than or equal to 1 year full-time
Common Graduation Requirements None beyond the certificate's required coursework
Prerequisites 2-3 years of hands-on experience using products
Online Availability Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Certificate in MCPD

MCPD training can be completed through self-study or via community colleges, technical schools or official Microsoft IT Academies; however, exam registration occurs through Microsoft and the certification exam is administered through an approved testing center. Certificate programs are for experienced IT professionals who use Microsoft products to develop, design and implement various applications for both Intranet and Internet. The MCPD certificate program prepares you for certification by teaching courses in programming, Windows and Web-based client development, Visual Studio and application development.

Pros and Cons


  • Upon completion, you'll have an official Microsoft certification that validates your skills to employers
  • MCPDs are privy to exclusive Microsoft resources and benefits
  • You can voluntarily upgrade to a new certification as new releases of software are announced
  • Certification exams are available at testing centers throughout the country


  • This certification is only for experienced applications developers, so entry-level applicants would need to wait until they gain experience
  • Certifications such as the MCPD are likely to expire as new technologies emerge
  • The certificate programs can be costly and may not include books, materials or exam fees

Courses and Requirements

The curriculum of MCPD certificate programs typically depends upon your area of interest. In general, an understanding of programming and computer operating systems is required. There are MCPD certificate programs that contain a broad education in applications development, but other prep programs focus on specific areas like Visual Studio or Windows phone. You'll expand upon your development knowledge using technologies such as ADO.NET and Microsoft SQL server database. Certificate programs vary in content, but some of the classes you could take include:

  • Web development
  • ASP.NET architecture
  • Security principles
  • Visual C# application development

Online Degree Options

Microsoft offers distance-learning training for the MCPD certification exam at various sites globally. Online training programs are managed by Microsoft Certified Trainers. You can also prepare for the MCPD exam through self-study. College and university libraries have self-paced training kits for the MCPD exams. Many postsecondary schools become Microsoft IT Academy sites, which provide free online learning for Microsoft products for the school's students, staff and faculty.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Given the complexity of the content and the required years of experience, it's important that you take practice exams to understand the types of questions that are going to be asked on the certification exam and to ensure that you understand the content. Microsoft's website, as well as college libraries may provide MCPD exam preparation guides. You can also look to blogs, online articles and Microsoft webcasts for additional help with understanding the technologies that you'll be tested on.

After obtaining MCPD certification, you can choose to upgrade to the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist certification by completing an exam demonstrating proficiency in one of the various .NET Framework 4 specializations, including Windows applications, data access or service communication applications.

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