Microsoft Certified Application Developer: Salary and Career Facts

Most of Microsoft's mid-level certifications, such as the Microsoft Certified Application Developer, have been retired, though several upgrade paths do exist. Read on to learn more about current certification options and salaries for certified specialists. Schools offering Computer Programming degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Microsoft Certified Application Developer?

A Microsoft Certified Application Developer is an applications software developer who has earned a Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD) or Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certification. Professionals in this career design and test programs used in Microsoft applications to ensure they function effectively. They often start by assessing the needs of a software program then design and assemble pieces of software to functionally meet these needs. Once they develop a software, they test it to ensure it functions as expected; if it does not, they identify the problem and attempt to fix it. This job involves quite a bit of documentation and collaboration with other programmers. In the table below, you can learn some details about this career:

Degree Required Certificate
Key Responsibilities Design and test programs to make sure they function correctly in Microsoft applications
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 19% (All application software developers)
Salary (2017)** $45,958 - $103,636 (for MCAD software developers)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **

What Are My Microsoft Certification Options as an Application Programmer?

Microsoft certifications designed to highlight your skills as a programmer or application developer are offered at the advanced level, requiring you to have at least two years of experience working with specific Microsoft technologies. The software vendor highly recommends you receive training by a Microsoft Certified Trainer through a Microsoft-authorized training center. As a programmer, you can earn several credentials, the most relevant being the Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD) or the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS).

What's the Difference Between These Certifications?

Both the MCPD and MCTS certifications test your abilities in troubleshooting Microsoft products and Microsoft-compatible applications. If your primary job function or interest lies in application development, the MCPD can showcase your ability to create software solutions using Microsoft's Visual Studio and .NET framework for Windows-based local and distributed systems or Internet-based applications. Depending on your area of focus, you'll need to pass 2-6 examinations that challenge your knowledge of application design, communication methods and SharePoint data hosting.

You can choose among a variety of avenues to become a certified technology specialist. The MCTS designation covers Windows operating systems, applications, server and Office components, e-mail hosting and several miscellaneous technologies, such as BizTalk, product licensing or virtual server management. Most credentials require that you pass a single test in a designated technology. As a programmer, you might be interested in obtaining MCTS certifications in mobile, embedded or server applications. The designation also offers application development options for client, server, Web and enterprise-level programming.

What If I Already Am a Microsoft Certified Application Developer?

If you've previously earned the Microsoft Certified Application Developer (MCAD) credential, your certification is still valid, and you can display the credential on your resume, business card and other promotional materials. However, Microsoft offers you several upgrade options that allow you to become certified in current technologies. You usually only need to take a single test to acquire an MCTS credential in operating system or Web application development. For the MCTS credential for enterprise computing and distributed systems, four tests are required. For MCPD certification, you'll need to pass 1-4 exams, depending on your area of expertise.

What Kind of Salary Could Microsoft Certification Demand?

According to March 2017 income data provided by, software developers with the MCAD certification earned an average salary between $45,958 and $103,636 per year. At that same time, senior software engineers with an MCTS certification reported salaries as high as $132,609.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Systems software developers design software, like applications software developers, but rather than engineering applications software, they design the software operating systems require to run. They create the components of the software, assemble them and test them to ensure they function. These developers require the same level of education as applications software developers. Computer hardware engineers design the physical hardware that make up a computer system, including processors, circuit boards and memory devices. To get into this profession, individuals generally need a bachelor's degree in computer engineering, electrical engineering or computer science.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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