For years, Microsoft Certified Applications Developers ruled the Windows custom software business. MCADs worked in one of three broad roles throughout the IT industry. As an in-house developer, an MCAD would write custom software to help his or her employer innovate in customer service, compliance, security and other crucial systems. As freelance coders, MCADs would drop in to client companies and overhaul desktop and Web-based applications. Working in third-party development companies, some MCADs used their knowledge of the original .NET framework to help launch the first wave of interactive Web services.
The software giant launched the Microsoft Certified Applications Developer program as a platform to speed adoption of the original .NET framework specifications. After achieving MCAD status, developers could focus on earning the Microsoft Certified Solution Developer (MCSD) designation.
After Microsoft launched version 2.0 of .NET, the company's education team advised developers to pursue the newer Microsoft Certified Professional Developer and Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist certifications. Redmond stopped accepting applications for new MCAD exams in late 2010. However, some employers that require support for legacy systems developed using platforms covered by MCAD still use the certification guidelines as a basis for evaluating job candidates.
Top employers for Microsoft Certified Applications Developers
Even as a deprecated certification, MCAD remains popular among major employers with heavy investments in custom Windows and Web applications. A salary survey conducted by IT industry analysts at Global Knowledge found dozens of large companies still employing and recruiting professionals with MCAD certifications. Likewise, Foote Partners named .NET development one of the highest-paying non-certified IT specialties.
Research conducted by staffing specialists at Kavaliro reveals that coders with .NET framework experience remain rare. Recruiters express demand for Microsoft applications developers who can bring existing systems into compliance with the latest security and networking protocols. IT departments reward coders who can understand the differences between all four versions of the .NET framework, especially the versions in use during the era when Microsoft actively maintained the MCAD certification.
Substitutes for the MCAD exam
Even though Microsoft no longer offers the MCAD certification, third-party testing companies still offer tests that measure candidates' proficiencies in the subject areas the exam previously covered. In addition, Microsoft now covers many of the same tools and skills measured by the MCAD exam in its MCPD and MCTS certification programs. You can prepare for job interviews and for prospective promotions by reviewing many of the sample exams and braindump documents posted online by past test-takers and tutors.
Next steps for Microsoft Certified Applications Developers
If you already have an MCAD, Microsoft suggests you invest some time pursuing its MCTS or MCPD certifications to ensure that you maintain the most current skill sets. Likewise, if you already develop custom Web applications using .NET or if you write desktop apps for Windows users, reviewing MCAD exam questions can help you formalize your coding knowledge. Formal IT degree programs and training courses can help you learn the basic skills necessary to qualify for entry-level Microsoft development jobs, so you can start building the kind of professional code portfolio that leads to some of the most lucrative tech careers in the country.