The new qualification will allow architects with 10 to 15 years' experience to have their skills assessed and recognised by their peers. The Microsoft certified architect (MCA), as the qualification will be known, is expected to attract about 3,000 candidates worldwide, including up to 200 from the UK.
"Our aim is to provide a further career path for engineers and developers who want to distinguish themselves from their peer group," said Ram Dhaliwal, training and certification manager at Microsoft.
The qualification, which is currently going through pilot programmes in the US, will come in two forms: one focusing on infrastructure skills, and one focusing on software.
The MCA is designed to test an individual's understanding of technology, systems design and business skills, said Microsoft. It will assess management skills, including the ability to communicate with the rest of the business, and the ability to influence an organisation.
Candidates will be given a mentor to guide them during their assessment, and will be expected to submit a thesis, which will be assessed by a panel of their peers.
Microsoft is also developing an associate qualification for less senior staff, as a stepping stone to the full qualification. Candidates will need to sit exams and document their work experience.
This was first published in July 2005