Exactly five months after I passed my first Microsoft certification test, I passed my fifth test, achieving my 2003 continuing education goal to achieve Microsoft Certified Solution Developer for Microsoft .NET status. As of August 11, 2003, there were 2,160 people in the world with this certification. That makes me approximately the 2500th person in the world to achieve the MCSD.NET certification. In addition, since I achieved the certification before September 30, 2003, I am distinguished as an “Early Achiever,” which reflects a commitment to rapidly learning and adopting new enterprise software development technologies.

The fifth test was indeed the hardest. Without getting too into the details and risking violating Microsoft’s Non-Disclosure Agreement, the test consisted of three case studies, each with about 10 questions. The materials covered topics including solution development methodologies, system architecture, database design, requirement synthesis, and the full suite of Microsoft’s enterprise software offerings.

My quest to become Microsoft-certified began in February 2003, when I purchased a few books to become acclimated with Visual Basic .NET. I passed my first three tests in March, April, and May. With my third test, I achieved the interim milestone of being one of the first 5,000 people in the world to achieve Microsoft Certified Application Developer status, making me a “Charter Member.” I did my elective test in July, focusing on database design using Microsoft SQL Server. I then spent approximately three weeks studying for the fifth test.