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MCSD Value?

Hello, I was wondering if I could get some advice or opinions?  I am looking to break into the programming field with out a four year college degree.  I have been self teaching myself, but there's little to show on paper other than the books I have read.  However lately I have been looking at a local tech school who has a computer programming course with the expressed purpose of "preparing students to seek the Microsoft Certified Solution Developer certification (MCSD)".

My question is, what does this certification mean in the real world?  Obviously it such a certification would look better than nothing, but how much better?  The course would probably cost around (or over) 10k and I need to gather any information I can before pursue enrollment.


Tuesday, January 29, 2002

1. The MCSD has some value in the real world; I have on occasion been asked to show certification when bidding on a job. But that's rare. In reality, experience is more important than certifications.

2. $10K is *far* too much to pay for an MCSD course of study. If you're motivated enough to succeed in development, you're motivated enough to study from some of the many certification books and CD-ROM courses available, which will cost you far less than that.

3. Given that Microsoft will very likely introduce a new version of the MCSD about two weeks from now, it's very unlikely that any existing course will prepare you properly.

4. Full disclosure: I'm Product Editor for MCP Magazine ( ) which colors my notions on certification. You'll find plenty more certification info over there.

Mike Gunderloy
Tuesday, January 29, 2002

I believe there is some value in the MCSD.  I've used it as a criteria to hire new developers that had no previous experience before.  It was obvious that they had a good understanding of software development concepts, and understood programming techniques.  Since they had no practical experience to speak of, I challenged them to puruse an MCSD within a 4 week period.  Two people accepted that challenge and accomplished the task.

As for the 10K, there is no way I would pay that much.  In fact, I'd strongly suggest that you not take any formal courses at all.  I think $500 worth of books along with some serious study time should be plenty to get you there.

Wednesday, January 30, 2002

Background: I was one of the first 1000 MCSDs using the 'new' track (4 tests,with a required architecture test). I'm no longer an MCSD because MS retired one of the tests I took (but I'm still an MCP).

The only time I see having an MCSD as useful is if you're planning on working for a consulting firm. That's so they can show their clients that you know something. This is why I got my MCSD - the firm I was with wanted me to get it.

Getting my MCSD took about 2 months, mainly because I took 2 weeks between exams to study for the next one. I took the 2 Visual Basic tests (because the C++ ones wern't out yet) with only having very minimal exposure prior to my studying - I nearly aced both of them.

I was laid off from the job that wanted the MCSD about a month after passing the last test (no work in sight). *None* of the jobs I interviewed for expressed any interest in my MCSD - I even had to explain what it was to a couple of them (and they were MS-Windows shops).

I am now happy developing application in C++ on Solaris and will probably never take the test I need to regain my MCSD.

The company I was with paid the $100 for each test, but I spent about $100 total on books (a couple of VB books).

Jeff Pleimling
Wednesday, January 30, 2002

also check out .

they have the best exams for MCSD.

Prakash S
Wednesday, January 30, 2002

In a way, Transender is part of the problem with MCSD certification (and all of the other certs, too).  Their 'sample' tests are *too* good - they're practically the real questions with the correct answers.

Back when I did my MCSD, I checked out the samples on their site (didn't have the $$$ to pay for the full product). I saw almost exactly the same questions on the test.

Just knowing that there are people who 'learned the test' rather then learning the real material is detrimental to having the certifications being taken seriously.

Jeff Pleimling
Wednesday, January 30, 2002

Actually it's .

Mike Gunderloy
Wednesday, January 30, 2002

I got my MCSD (since expired) way back in 1996. At the time, I had absolutely no *professional* programming experience. My major in college was English, but I'd grown up with computers in my house, dating back to a swank dual-floppy CP/M machine in the mid-eighties, thanks to my programmer dad. I'd been working for a software training company for a few years when I decided I really wanted to move into development.

As part of a requirement for teaching advanced classes with my training company, I took and passed the Access (2.0, I think) certification. I think I also had a Windows certification, too.

In any event, when I was interviewing with consulting companies, my lack of programming experience stood out like a sore thumb. So did my lack of a pertinent college degree. The fact that I was (then) halfway to getting my MCSD was probably the factor the tipped the scales in my favor.

Since then, I don't think it's ever even come up. So in your case, I would definitely see the value for getting your foot in the door someplace.

As with the other posts, $10,000 is way too much. Buy some books. Get a copy of VB or C++. Experiment. Build something, read some more, then build again. Get the sample tests from Transcender, and take 'em until you get every question right.

Also understand that the tests are pass/fail, and it doesn't matter how many times you fail it as long as you eventually pass. Each test is gonna cost you money, but you could invest $2,000 on training materials, and STILL take each test 20 times until you passed. Yikes.

Robert K. Brown
Wednesday, January 30, 2002


One thing to note is that some of the posts above refer to the old-style MCSD. The current track (and probably future tracks) requires more Systems Analysis and Design skills than the old track (I am a current track and previous track MCSD). Thus the current track is HARDER to bluff your way through - meaning it is harder to pass if you don't actually know your stuff. At the very least you need to get a good SA text and work through it - at uni I used Introduction to Systems Analysis and Design by Igor Hawryszkiewycz.

Hope that helps

Matthew Wills
Wednesday, January 30, 2002

I must admit I've always regarded the Microsoft certification, and the fact that the qualifications are forever becoming out of date, as yet another scheme to make Bill Gates even richer. I'd be interested to know if any employers out there would actually base a hiring decision for a permanent staff member (as opposed to a short term contractor) on whether a candidate had an MCSD - I certainly wouldn't.

There's an entertaining look at certification on:

Andrew Simmons
Wednesday, January 30, 2002

From my limited perspective (i have almost NO programming experience) I would say that ten grand for an MCSD is high. Actually the local 'tech' school that I checked into quoted me a lovely bid of FIFTEEN thousand dollars. I thought... that's a sizable chunk of my first year's salary as a newbie. Provided of course I could actually find work. I estimate that this kind of certification would generate about as much income as my coveted BFA degree in Fine Arts (which, by the way, I am selling for $15,000).


Thursday, January 31, 2002

I am also looking into MCSD.  I am currently a ASP developer in Vancouver, Canada.  Learning Crappy salaries.. but is a good start.  The reason I want to take this is because the company I am working for only support asp 2.0.. that's so old in the industry.  Also, I want to really learn .net and may be find a better job. Like you, I did not graudate from computer science in University.  I did took a intensive computer course so that I can get my first step into the IT industry.  I must say, it was very difficult for me to find a IT job without any kind of diploma or certification.  I think if you do need something of certification to get a 1st job.

if you need a studying partner..
email me @

Wednesday, May 7, 2003

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