This week Microsoft announced a new top tier credential, the Microsoft Certified Architect. The program aims at those people who have significant experience at designing solutions that implement Microsoft technologies at an enterprise level. The MCA credential will have three paths, Infrastructure, Solutions and Messaging. At present around 70 people have qualified for the credential, most of who have around 25 years work of experience with 10-15 in an architect type role.
In other words, this credential is aimed at people who are working at a very high level in large companies, not people who manage a few backoffice servers for SMBs.
To apply to enter the program you must pay a non-refundable fee of $250. If you aren’t accepted, you don’t get it back, although you can apply again when you feel that you have reached the standard for acceptance. Once accepted into the program there will be a further $10,000 fee. This sounds steep unless you consider that you’ll be assigned a mentor who has achieved the credential already for a six month period and that getting a group of MCAs together for a board is not a trivial exercise.
To gain acceptance into the program your years and type of experience, knowledge of architectural issues and your ability to provide complex technical solutions to significant enterprise level problems will be assessed. Once you have demonstrated those competencies, an MCA will interview you to determine how suitable you are for the program. Whereas people might be able to fool a test engine into thinking that they are an expert, it is less likely that they will be able to fool someone who has achieved the MCA credential.
Once accepted into the MCA program, you will work with mentors to prepare for a review board interview. At the review board, you will have to produce an architecture that solves a particular set of business problems by employing Microsoft products. The time between a successful application and the review board interview will be approximately six months. During this time, you will work with your mentor to prepare for the board interview.
The credential certainly is not for everyone, and Microsoft expects that only a couple of hundred people will attain the credential annually.
You can find more information at Microsoft’s Certified Architect Program website.