Developing for Microsoft doesn't just mean writing code for Windows anymore. In fact, after a few relatively quiet years for Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD) credential holders, the job market is heating up. While many jobs for professionals with MCPD training involve maintaining custom software, many Microsoft developers now work on projects designed to move data from legacy systems into more flexible online applications.
MCPD certification includes desktop, Web, and cloud
For years, earning an MCPD certification required dedication to the Wintel platform and the drive to develop custom code for employers and clients. The Internet continues to reshape the job market for coders, especially for developers who write desktop tools that must now interface with remote databases and online APIs. Microsoft certified programmers who use the latest versions of its Visual Studio development suite and its SharePoint collaboration server:
- Windows Developer 4. Programmers writing software for use on Windows desktops, utilizing the latest .NET framework.
- Web Developer 4. Specialists who rely on Microsoft's ASP.NET server tools to drive interactive Web-based applications.
- Windows Azure Developer. Coders who want to migrate application development and data storage to Microsoft's cloud computing platform.
- SharePoint Developer 2010. Programmers using Microsoft's collaboration server to help teams distribute and discuss crucial documents.
In addition, Microsoft maintains support for MCPD certifications related to every platform the company currently supports. At this writing, Microsoft still validates professionals working in Visual Studio 2008 and Visual Studio 2005. Since many large companies migrate their systems slowly, employers often prefer to hire developers with experience supporting multiple generations of Redmond's operating systems and development suites.
Job outlook for graduates of MCPD training programs
Microsoft certified professional developer training qualifies software developers for roles in many large companies that rely on Windows and SharePoint. Banks, law firms, and health care companies top the lists of employers tracked by Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine and other industry observers. Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a booming job market for generalist computer programmers, MCPD training can help candidates qualify for competitive positions that pay 10 to 20 percent higher than the median salary for all developers.
According to the editors of MCP Magazine, MCPDs often quietly support the work of project managers in medium and large organizations. Although project managers usually get the bulk of the credit for successful projects, many MCPDs earn salaries close to those of their non-developer managers. In fact, the magazine's most recent salary survey shows that some professionals with Microsoft Certified Professional Developer certifications actually earn a few thousand dollars more than their supervisors. Both types of IT professional, however, earn close to six-figure salaries.
On the other hand, analysts at Foote Partners note a divergence between employers who require MCPD certification for new hires and those who will settle for IT professionals with demonstrated coding skills. Although the pay gap between the two types of workers continues to narrow, hiring managers still look for evidence that candidates have completed at least some MCPD training programs. Many more employers offer fee and tuition reimbursement for MCPD certification exams as a professional development perk. Either way, hiring managers demand demonstrated experience and a portfolio of work product that reflects exposure to MCPD training.