Microsoft Certified Application Developer Careers: Job Description & Salary

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What are the pros and cons of a Microsoft Certified Application Developer career? Get real salary information, job duties and career prospects to see if this career is right for you!
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Pros and Cons of a Microsoft Certified Developer Career

A Microsoft certified application developer is a programmer, analyst or software developer who has completed a Microsoft certification program in this area. Read on to explore more about the pros and cons of this career to see if it's the right one for you.

PROS of a Microsoft Certified Developer Career
High average salary of $102,880 per year median annual wage in 2014*
Much faster-than-average-growth field (13% growth between 2014-2024)*
Most jobs are full-time*
Some developers are allowed to telecommute*

CONS of a Microsoft Certified Developer Career
Must keep learning changing technology, languages and tools*
Some jobs are being outsourced due to lower wages paid in foreign countries*
Companies may require a bachelor's or master's degree to enter field*
Working long hours is often required*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Info

Job Description

The Microsoft Certified Application Developer (MCAD) certification is no longer offered; however, Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD) is now available in several different specializations. A MCPD career entails everything from needs analysis to development or modification of systems related to Microsoft programs. This career entails working across many areas to develop a product for a client. Microsoft has several different certifications. Depending on the level of experience an employer requires, you may need knowledge in areas like Visual Studio, XAML, Dynamics NAV or Windows Phone. MCPDs then use these tools to design, develop, test and evaluate the software and systems that organizations use to conduct their business.

Salary Information

In May 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the mean annual wage was approximately $106,050 for the occupational classification of software developers, system software ( At that time, there were about 382,400 employed nationally in the same classification, and the state of California had the highest employment level at around 82,450.

What Are the Requirements?

According to the BLS, employers typically look for software developers with a bachelor's degree in software engineering or computer science. A bachelor's degree in a related field, such as mathematics, is generally sufficient as well.

Certification is required through Microsoft to become an MCPD. Some of the certifications available are in versions of Visual Studio, SharePoint, Silverlight, Windows Phone, Dynamics NAV, Database Developer and Business Intelligence Developer. You may also need experience before becoming certified. Some of the other skills based on job postings from April 2012 on include:

  • Skills in analysis and design of systems or programs in adherence with scheduling
  • Program coding, testing, debugging and problem resolution skills
  • User flow, wireframe creation and process scenario development knowledge
  • Web service and database design skills

Job Postings from Real Employers

Some specific employer requirements for employment as an MCPD include skills like Microsoft Net 2008 or 2010, SharePoint 2007 and 2010, Visual Studio, SQL Server and Dynamics AX. Below are some examples of job openings posted on in April 2012:

  • A data systems company in New York City, NY, is hiring Microsoft Dynamics AX Retail Developers for full-time employment. This position entails designing, enhancing and maintaining the company's retail platform. Applicants need at least three years of Dynamics AX retail experience and solid development skills. The beginning salary range is between $60 and $120 per hour depending on experience.
  • A manufacturing company in Miamisburg, OH, is hiring a Microsoft .Net developer to implement a new system in its Microsoft environment. To be considered for employment requires at least two years of experience. This position offers long-term growth potential.
  • A company in Los Angeles, CA, seeks a senior-level Microsoft .Net developer and information architect with experience in E-commerce, PSA, ERP, CRM and NetSuite application suites. The employee will analyze, develop and design systems and maintain all project deadlines. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree or higher in information technology or computer science. The salary range for this position is between $40,000 and $80,000 per year.

How to Stand Out in the Field

Microsoft offers many certifications as a Certified Professional Developer. One way to stand out to potential employers is to achieve certification in a variety of the applications available. Each credential adds to your expertise areas and is recognized in the industry as a way to distinguish yourself. Microsoft also offers networking opportunities with other professionals who become certified. The certifications show employers a commitment to staying up to date on current technology and practices in the industry.

Additionally, industry-related knowledge may give you an advantage when seeking a job. For instance, if you're interested in working in the medical industry, you should have knowledge of the computing needs of hospitals and clinics.

Other Career Paths

Video Game Designer

Perhaps you're interested in computers and programming, but would like to pursue something creative. In that case, you might consider a job as a video game designer. As a designer, you'll collaborate with other designers, programmers and artists to brainstorm game concepts and bring life to your ideas. According to the BLS, there are no specific educational requirements to be a game designer. However, a degree in computer science or game development may prove beneficial. Additionally, designers typically require some knowledge of scripting languages, such as Lua and Python. The BLS does not compile salary statistics for video game designers. However, reported that as of April 2012, the majority of video game designers earned between $33,000 and $93,000.

Computer Programmer

You might be looking for a more generalized occupation in the computer field, such as that of a computer programmer. This job entails taking the programs designed by software developers and translating them into a set of directions in a language the computer can understand. This is called writing code, and there are a number of computer languages in which programmers write code, a couple of which are Java and C++. Most programmers have a bachelor's degree in computer science, although you may be able to find entry-level work with an associate's degree. The BLS reported the mean annual wage for computer programmers was about $76,000 in May 2011. The occupation was expected to experience employment growth of about 12% in the 2010-2020 decade, which translates into an addition of around 43,700 jobs.

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