Microsoft has announced the release of several beta Visual Studio 2010 certification exams. Microsoft has released certifications in a few different categories: Microsoft Certified Technical Specialist (MCTS) exams, which are the introductory exams to a given technology; Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD) exams, which are the second-level technology-focused exams; and upgrade exams to transfer your existing MCPD certification to the latest versions.
However, since Visual Studio 2010 is just releasing this April 12, the exams through April will be beta exams. Below are some frequently asked questions.
Q: When will the beta exams be offered?
A: The beta exams are offered from April 5 through April 30.
Q: When will the exam be available (not in beta)?
A: The official exams are expected in July 2010.
Q: How does taking a beta certification differ from the real thing? (answer is a direct quote from a Microsoft representative)
A: The beta exam is usually longer in terms of amount of questions and attendees are given more time to provide item level feedback. The goal is to get performance metrics on questions and feedback. Therefore, when you complete a beta exam you do not get an immediate pass fail. Pass/fail score and question weight is determined from beta question performance. When the rate is determined the exams will be scored and the beta attendees will receive the full credential. Individuals who achieve a certification within 6 months of exam live get a charter member credential on their certificate (so beta attendees who pass get this distinction too). Post beta exam items will be scrubbed against RTM bits, poor performing items removed, and then are published.
Q: Do I really need to get a certification?
I suppose there are two different arguments for the value of certifications: perception and practicality. On the perception side, having a certification in a certain technology is a far more quantitative way of showing an employer (your current employer or a prospective employer) that you are proficient in the technology--this argument is going to apply whether you already have the skills or not. On the practical side, the training required to get a certification will force you to learn the critical skills to succeed in that sector or technology and be a way to affirm you know your stuff. Even if you feel like you already have the technical competencies in a given technology, it's likely that you'll learn plenty of new tricks and skills in studying for the exams.
Q: What's the best way to get a certification?
One of the toughest decisions is deciding how to go about getting a certification. You can go through a process as in-depth and focused as a boot camp or as fluid and basic as self study. I sum up some of the pros and cons of each path in the article "What Certification Training is Right for You?" on www.windowsitpro.com.
On the next page, we'll review what new certifications Microsoft is offering.
The Microsoft Certified Technical Specialist exams are a part of Microsoft's most recent certification track (as of a few years), and they focus far more heavily on specific technologies than previous certification tracks. The exams are excellent for focusing your skills on a very specific technology, or for simply building up a foundation of solid exams to move into higher-level certification.
- Exam 70-511: Windows Applications Development with Microsoft .NET Framework 4. Covers developing applications using Windows Presentation Foundation and Windows Forms.
- Exam 70-515: Web Applications Development with Microsoft .NET Framework 4. Covers Microsoft’s ASP.NET technologies (ASP.NET, MVC2, and AJAX) for developing web-based applications.
- Exam 70-513: Windows Communication Foundation Development with Microsoft .NET Framework 4. Covers integrating WCF into your applications.
- Exam 70-516: Accessing Data with Microsoft .NET Framework 4. Covers ADO.NET, LINQ, and Entity Framework.
The Microsoft Certified Professional Developer exams are designed for experienced developers and focus on lesser-known and more advanced features of Microsoft technologies. These certifications are ideal for individuals are ideal for any developer looking to expand his or her skills, or for an individual moving into a consultant role.
- Exam 70-518: Designing and Developing Windows Applications Using Microsoft .NET Framework 4. Covers more advanced features in the technologies highlighted in Exam 70-511 (Windows Presentation Foundation and Windows Forms).
- Exam 70-519: Designing and Developing Web Applications Using Microsoft .NET Framework 4. Covers more advanced features in the technologies highlighted in Exam 70-515 (ASP.NET, MVC2, and AJAX).
MCPD Upgrade Exams
These are the upgrade exams to modernize your existing certifications to the latest versions.
- Exam 70-521. Transition Your MCPD Windows Developer 3.5 or Enterprise Application Developer 3.5 to MCPD Windows Developer 4.
- Exam 70-523. Transition Your MCPD ASP.NET Developer 3.5 or Enterprise Application Developer 3.5 to MCPD Web Developer 4.
To explore each of these certifications in more depth, visit the Microsoft Learning Visual Studio page.