Counting MCPs one more time

Every now and then, I like to check in on the number of Microsoft certified professionals (MCPs) tracked on the Microsoft Web site and make some observations about what I see. The chart below shows the number of IT professionals who have qualified for ten certification credentials from April 2003 through February 2005. Microsoft hasn't been updating these numbers as frequently as it once did; in the past year, updated numbers were posted only in May and September, and again this year on Valentine's Day.

Overall, the numbers show that growth rates for Microsoft certified professionals continue to be slower than they were at their peak in 1999 and 2000. But I'm seeing more evidence of interesting monthly growth rates across the board in the past 13 months than in the two years before that.

Though I've read claims in many publications that IT certification has been on a turnaround course in the past six to 12 months, the numbers from Microsoft in the table below are the first set of hard numbers I've come across that appear to lend some credibility to such claims.

I have observed that Microsoft is no longer reporting a hard count for MCPs who hold no other Microsoft credential other than certified professional. Now the company reports the total number of people who have earned MCP or better, which explains the near-doubling in the MCP column from December of 2003 to February 2005. My best guess is that if the previous method of reporting were used instead, it would

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be in the range of 1.1 million to 1.2 million instead.

April 7, 2003 June 1, 2003 Dec 18, 2003 Feb 14, 2005
MCP* 877,310 882,049 967,549 1,600,000+
MCSE 2000 200,890 205,152 231,286 270,445
MCSE 2003 N/A N/A 1,349 22,110
MCSD 2000 42,458 42,347 44,499 N/A
MCSD .NET 373 597 5,170 12,892
MCDBA 107,631 109,000 117,924 192,864
MCSA 2000 62,416 66,521 92,673 147,029
MCSA 2003 N/A N/A 3,127 38,924
MCAD 3,466 4,229 11,473 27,560
MCDST N/A N/A N/A 4,051~

+ No breakout on difference between those who hold only MCP and those who also hold additional credentials available.
~ MCDST launched in February 2004; about 1,500 certificate holders were reported as of Sept. 9, 2004.

MCP*Microsoft Certified Professional
MCSEMicrosoft Certified Systems Engineer
MCDBAMicrosoft Certified Database Administrator
MCSAMicrosoft Certified Systems Administrator
MCADMicrosoft Certified Application Developer
MCSDMicrosoft Certified Solution Developer
MCDSTMicrosoft Certified Desktop Support Technician

Here are some other observations based on my analysis of the numbers:

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