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Discussion in 'New Members Introduction' started by MickeyT, May 9, 2009.

  1. MickeyT

    MickeyT New Member

    Hi - I'm toying with doing MCPD qualification and I'm looking for some guidance on its content. Thanks in advance for all the help!
  2. MickeyT

    MickeyT New Member

    The reason I joined this forum is to try and help me decide whether to part with thousands of pounds to do the MCPD course. I have spoken to the course tutor and know a little about what the different exams contain but I'm nervous that I'll pay the money and then find its too difficult.

    I've done one degree and one professional qualification (I'm a chartered accountant) so I'm not daft, but I've never done programming properly. I have done some programming in Excel visual basic for a couple of years and have built various models to help in my work. I've started reading a beginners book on Visual C#.Net and have found it similar to VB up to now in terms of how it flows (although object orientated programming is fairly new to me).

    However, I know from speaking to the course tutor that databases, SQL, XML, ASP.Net, ADO.Net etc etc are covered, and I'm concerned that you have to be a genius to get it all. I don't want to spend thousands and find I can't do it.

    So can anyone put the level of difficulty into context? Can anyone from any background do it (provided they study and persevere of course), or do you have to be at a certain level of intelligence to be able to grasp it?

    Any guidance will be much appreciated as I'm driving myself mad wondering what's best to do.

  3. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

    C# and VB .Net are not the most technical languages out there, they are general purpose languages designed for mere mortals to be productive. You do not have to be a genius to learn them, average intellect is fine, if you can understand UK tax law I'm sure you can learn to program !

    However just because I know a few chords doesn't make me Jeff Beck, and being able to do an oil change on my car doesn't make me a master mechanic.

    Could I learn to become a Charterd Accountant and work for Merrill Lynch in a senior position after forking out £8k for a part time course for a year?

    MCPD is designed for senior developers and architects with many, many years of experience.

    Learning to MCPD level is something that takes years, simply because there is so much to grasp. It will generally take many years of experience to grasp the design concepts, and get exposed to all the different technologies.

    It is therefore quite irresponsible for distance learning providers to sell MCPD courses. I would not pay for such a course nor reccomend people without experience to take one.

    Going for an MCTS qualification would be more realistic, but you are probably still 2+ years short in training and experience for such a qualification.

    I'd reccomend a HNC/HND, or foundation degree.

    Learn Object Orientation, analysis, design, procedural programming, functional programming, algorithms, datastructures, concurrency, security/encryption, IO, remoting, persistence, databases, file formats, parsers, regular expressions/FSM, graphics/GDI/GUI. After that you can start to think about programming certs.

    Best of luck ! :D
  4. wagnerk
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    wagnerk aka kitkatninja Moderator

    I agree :)

    Certifications: CITP, PGDip, BSc, HNC, LCGI, PTLLS, MCT, MCITP, MCTS, MCSE, MCSA:M, MCSA, MCDST, MCP, MTA, MCAS, MOS (Master), A+, N+, S+, ACA, VCA, etc... & 2nd Degree Black Belt
    WIP: MSc in Tech Management
  5. MickeyT

    MickeyT New Member

    Thanks for the reply.

    I really wanted to believe that you could get to MCPD in 12 to 14 months - that is what I was told. I've come so far down the accountancy route and have a lifestyle which that progress supports that I'm unable to go back to square one and get a trainee-type job as that wouldn't pay the bills. Although, it has to be said that I have no right to expect to get a job any higher up the chain than that as I currently know next to nothing.

    However, I was told that I could expect to complete exams 70-536 and 70-505 in 9 months, and then within another 5 months complete exams 70-562, #70-561, #70-503, 70-563 and 70-564 and I'd be done. That would make me qualified at the Professional level and then I could decide whether I wanted to go for Master after that.

    I take it that the above is unrealistic based on what you have said? I've just had a look at the Open University website to judge the duration of a foundation degree and it looks like it would probably take a heck of a long time to complete - one 30 point module lasts 9 months and requires 7-8 hours a week of study.

    A foundation degree is 240 points, so that's 6 years! My job probably wouldn't give me the time to do two modules at the same time as I don't think I could fit in working late sometimes and doing 14-16 hours a week, so I'd most likely have to do only one module at a time.

    Even so, what would you think would be the likely path to certification? Say I did a foundation degree - would I be knowledgeable enough to then tackle the MCTS stuff or would I still need to beef up my knowledge even further, i.e. convert to a full degree?

    Thanks again for the advice - you might have just saved me from biting off more than I can chew and making a seriously costly mistake.
  6. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

    Its all relative, If you took a bright individual and hot housed them for 1-2 years you could probably get them through the tests. However they still would have a very narrow focus.

    The training providers do not provide such a service, their support is very limited, few people could afford such a service in time or money even if it were available. Thats why people go to university, self study or do apprenticeships.

    Look closely at the sylabus for the 70-536, the training kit is 1100 pages and it does not cover the whole sylabus ! You could easilly spend over a year studying for this one exam if you have no experience. With the wrong approach you may never pass, you have to lay the foundations before you build the house. Its probably going to take you 6 months+ to learn C#, maybe less for VB.Net depending on your level and then you must learn the framework and various other concepts.

    Yes part time courses do take a lot longer to complete, but you mention you want to maintain your income. People with MCPD's doing senior jobs are going to have tens of thousands of hours experience and training. Doing a foundation degree or HNC is still very much the 'lite' option.

    You could just decide to teach yourself C# or VB .Net from books, but like I said it is a lot of material, you are looking at several 500+ page books just to pass the 70-536. You'll need a beginners programming book, an more advanced programming book, maybe a design book, a .Net framework book and finally the training kit and you'd still probably be lucky to pass.

    I read a few ACA books about 15 years ago, they used to train basic IT and systems concepts, have you had any IT training so far ? If you are very skilled at VBA then you may be able to transition to VB .Net in a relatively short timescale. Probably still 1-2 years part time untill you are ready for 70-536. It covers pretty much the whole .NET framework which is pretty vast, much of which you would not have come across in VBA.

    Have you thought about moving sideways ? Maybe getting into a different department and doing functional consulting with SAP/Sage/Dynamics ? Also some places just will want people who can build models in VBA in excell, you could use this as way into more general development.

    What interests you in the MCPD ? Why did you become an accountant if your interest is programming ?

    From what limited stuff I've heard first hand the training providers have little incentive to ensure you either learn properly or pass. Some use underhand methods simply to get any of their students to pass. The chances of someone with little experience getting an MCPD legitamately with a training provider in under two years is virtually zero.

    Well everyones different, it took me about a month full time to study for and just pass the 70-536 and I've been developing profesionally for 15 years and have a degree in computer science. The other exams took similar effort. I would say a good developer could indeed pass these two in 9 months part time study, but it is a fairly aggressive timescale, it's possible some people may need multiple attempts at each exam. If you are studying part time and not developing much you may not be getting enough regular practice to pass at all.

    I'd say an exam a month for some of microsofts hardest exams, for someone with limited experience, studying part time, its totally unrealistic. The only people that would manage it would be either seasoned pros or braindumpers.

    No it would make you paper qualified, in reality you'd know just enough to be dangerous. Most companies would immediately assume you were a braindumper and bin your CV.
  7. MickeyT

    MickeyT New Member

    The whole reason I started to think about all this was because I taught myself how to use Visual Basic in Excel. I had zero knowledge two years ago. In fact, I was pretty poor with spreadsheets looking back. I started working for a bank and saw what my predecessor had done with a reporting spreadsheet that used Essbase to suck data out of Oracle. There was no Visual Basic in it, but it was like a light came on and I started to create things that became more and more complex.

    Then I moved to another company and, on being shown the things I'd be responsible for, was shocked at how long it was going to take me to do all the manual and long winded processing that I had to do; CSV files containing journals had to be created out of thousands of lines of information, with the information being arranged by company, cost centre, and then assembled into something that represented a debit/credit journal that could be loaded into SAP. Then there was the month and year end reporting and budgeting. All of it was manual, with adjustments just typed into cells and manual data entry being repeated numerous times.

    Two years down the line and teaching myself visual basic in Excel (I wouldn't say I can write visual basic full stop as I don't know how to use it outside of Excel), I had written models that consolidated the results of several companies (proper consolidation - not just aggregating the numbers), forecasting models, spreadsheets for creating journals in seconds, a cashflow model that sucked in the data from files submitted from other people and created a report of it all etc. And I also wrote it all in a way that someone else could pick up and use - message boxes to notify the user if there was an error, menu bars to run the code, userforms for inputting the data and so on.

    Although, I have now realised that it was all written quite poorly after having read about how to utilise classes, objects and methods in my C# book - it still worked though!

    So I'm sitting looking at what I've done well in the last two years (five years if you include the ACA training period) and I've only ever felt really good about the stuff I've done with the limited programming experience I have. I just felt that maybe this was a sign that programming might have been something I wasn't too bad at and that I should pursue it and learn how to do it properly.

    Perhaps, though, it's a bit too late to be working this out now after everything I've already done.:(

    In answer to your second question - what does functional consulting entail?
  8. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

    SAP calls them functional consultants, basically they are business analysts. The role can vary depending on the company, you could maybe turn it into Analyst/Developer. Sometimes they do some basic architecture stuff.

    A lot of banks like people with data cleansing or Excell skills and VBA. Not sure how good this sector is these days.

    It sounds like you have some excellent experience which you should be rightly proud of. You are still however probably at the level of a junior developer.

    I suspect that it is not too late, however I'd look at trying to move sideways and change your job. Firstly I'd try to put in 20+ hours a week retraining, either with your own sylabus if you are confident enough or by doing a formal qualification. At the same time I'd start to look for ways of getting to where you want to be, other departments in your current company, expanding your role, moving jobs if need be.

    Microsoft used to run the MCAD which would have been more suitable for your situation, unfortunately I think this track is now dead. The newer tracks are more hard core and most require the 70-536.

    If you manage to land a more development focused role and gain some experience you will be in a far better position to embark on the MCTS and eventually get MCPD.

    Good Luck ! :D
  9. MickeyT

    MickeyT New Member

    Thanks again for your help - you've really helped a great deal and I think I'm going to avoid the MCTS and MCPD as clearly they are not for someone of my level.

    I think I may go back to the Open University idea and do something one module at a time. That way there will only ever be £400 on the table at any one time rather than £4,000. I don't think I could fully commit to 20+ hours retraining in case I started having to work longer hours at work for some reason - the demands come in peaks and troughs.

    It may take me a very long time to get anywhere, but the pace and level of the modules I've just had a look at on the Open University website sound much more realistic: data, computing and information, OOP with Java, VB application design, Java software development, relational databases, interactional design etc. Doing MCTS in a year sounds like an idea born in cloud cuckoo land now.

    Meanwhile I'll have to try and manouvre myself in the directions you mentioned at work and maybe, one day, it will all come together.

    It sounds like the only way to get there much more quickly is to go back and start again at Uni, and I can't do that now. I don't live with my parents anymore for a start!

    Thanks once again - if I could buy you a drink over this I would! Cheers for your help.
  10. Notes_Bloke

    Notes_Bloke Terabyte Poster

    Hi & welcome to CF:D

    Certifications: 70-210, 70-215, A+,N+, Security+
  11. MrNerdy

    MrNerdy Megabyte Poster

    Hello & Welcome to the Forum.
    Certifications: ECDL, CiscoIT1 & A+
    WIP: Girlfriend & Network+

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