Can I have fries with that .NET upgrade?

December 1, 2008 at 9:35 am | Posted in Certification Paths, Microsoft | Leave a comment
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Editor’s note: In honor of the real Turkey Day, here’s the follow-up to Josh’s previous post detailing trends in Microsoft’s .NET certification paths.

If there’s one thing in which to have faith in this downward-spiraling economy, it’s two basic drives of the human soul: the entrepreneurial spirit, and the love of fast food. Ray Kroc would be a good example of such a spirit. Starting as a small-time franchisee of the little-known McDonald’s restaurant in 1953, Mr. Kroc would later take over the restaurant chain from brothers Dick and Mac McDonald and build a multi-billion dollar empire based on busy people’s need for cheap, highly fat-saturated food, served right to the window of your car while idling on precious gas fumes. Okay, uh, let’s drive through that example…

With more cars stalled on the economic highway, IT certification has become more valuable.* As fewer lanes are opening up, the need to merge into existing traffic has become even more treacherous. How do you stretch your certification bucks, with times being what they are? After seeing the banquet of .NET certification options spread out on the table (see previous post), overflowing with casseroles of TS (Technology Specialist) and PD (Professional Developer) certifications, you’re probably wondering if there’s a something akin to a certification drive-thru: quick, cheap, and highly saturated.

If you have the know-how (and a good practice test like Transcender) but not the stomach for a buffet, .NET upgrade exams just may be the answer. Since breaking down the MCAD and MCSD certification into the smaller TS and PD dishes, Microsoft has also been steadily building upgrade exams to ease the transition. The 550 series exams are value meals that provide instant certification gratification for those with the appetite. These upgrade exams are also cheaper than the full-length TS and PD exams, being only $75 apiece (that’s 40% off the original price).

(Click the diagram for a larger image.)

Microsoft .NET 2.0 Upgrade Paths

Microsoft .NET 2.0 Upgrade Paths

As you’ll notice, some of these exams are meatier than others. The upgrade from your existing MCSD to the MCPD: Visual Studio 2005 Enterprise Application Developer is so chock full of content, it has been sliced into two exams: 070-553 and 070-554. That upgrade path is not for those with weak stomachs!

It’s important to note that unlike past Microsoft upgrade exams, these upgrade exams have prerequisites other than those labeled. For example, although you can take the 70-551 and 70-552 exams with a MCAD credential, the fail rates have been higher than even Microsoft predicted. Microsoft Learning now recommends that developers with an MCAD take the 70-558 and 70-559 exams, and then take the MCPD exam after passing the previous two, rather than jumping straight into the 70-551 and 70-552. You can still drive up and placing an order for one upgrade certification to go, even if you don’t meet the certification prerequisites, but having the equivalent technical knowledge is highly recommended.

The only warning is that these are BIG meals. Each of these exams can take three to four hours to complete, and will cover a wide range of objectives. Without some serious preparation, you may find yourself with a serious stomach ache (and perhaps a mild fever). So you might want to find some good study material (like Transcender) to keep the acid reflux and head buzz to a minimum.

Oh. Sorry, no fries with that.

Drive-thru Menu of Exam Options:

  • Overview of upgrade paths from MCAD or MCSD .NET to Visual Studio 2005 Certifications
  • UPGRADE: MCAD Skills to MCPD Web Developer by Using the Microsoft .NET Framework (MCTS not required) – Exam 70-551
  • UPGRADE: MCAD Skills to MCPD Windows Developer by Using the Microsoft .NET Framework (MCTS not required) – Exam 70-552
  • Upgrade: MCAD Skills to MCTS Windows Applications by Using the Microsoft .NET Framework – Exam 70-558
  • Upgrade: MCAD Skills to MCTS Web Applications by Using the Microsoft .NET Framework – 70-559
  • UPGRADE: MCSD Microsoft .NET Skills to MCPD Enterprise Application Developer by Using the Microsoft .NET Framework: Part 1 – 70-553
  • UPGRADE: MCSD Microsoft .NET Skills to MCPD Enterprise Application Developer by Using the Microsoft .NET Framework: Part 2 – 70-554

*From the BlogMistress: Industry predictions on the technology front are mixed: some recent reports claim that IT jobs are relatively safe right now, even when they overlap with weak sectors like finance. But other news, like Cisco’s recent hiring freeze (click here for the report in Network World), has definitely started some fingernail-biting among the tech professionals I know.

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