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Posted Thursday, July 5, 2007 9:32 AM


Keeper of the Duck

Keeper of the Duck

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Having a certification, if nothing else, shows a willingness to:

a) Either learn the material on the job or study to learn the material.
b) Be measured by a "standard," regardless of how you feel about the standard.

When I have participated in interviewing personnel, I always keep those two things in mind. You're right that having a cert isn't a guarantee that a candidate really knows his/her stuff. That's what a tech interview should reveal. But there is some credit in my book if the candidate has at least gotten some level of certification.

Loner, I get what you're saying, because as far as Microsoft is concerned, I have an MCP, MCSE but those were from the SQL Server 7.0 and Windows NT 4.0 days. I don't have an MCDBA, focusing in recent years on security related certs (Security+, GSEC, and hopefully soon, CISA). However, I would hope that my lack of an MCDBA would not disqualify me from a position. With that said, if it does, I do have the capability to do something about it: go complete it.


K. Brian Kelley, CISA, MCSE, Security+, MVP - SQL Server
Regular Columnist (Security), SQLServerCentral.com
Author of Introduction to SQL Server: Basic Skills for Any SQL Server User
| Professional Development blog | Technical Blog | LinkedIn | Twitter
Post #379285
Posted Thursday, July 5, 2007 9:34 AM


Keeper of the Duck

Keeper of the Duck

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One of the resources I like to follow to see what recruiters (at least the ones at Microsoft) are thinking about with respect to candidates:

Technical Careers @ Microsoft blog


K. Brian Kelley, CISA, MCSE, Security+, MVP - SQL Server
Regular Columnist (Security), SQLServerCentral.com
Author of Introduction to SQL Server: Basic Skills for Any SQL Server User
| Professional Development blog | Technical Blog | LinkedIn | Twitter
Post #379286
Posted Thursday, July 5, 2007 9:37 AM


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I got my cert for two reasons: to prove to myself that I really did know the stuff, and to validate my credentials to prospective customers.

It's really the same thing as having a BS, MS, or PhD - you might not necessarily be any smarter, but it does show that you have the motivation to attempt & complete a particular course of study.

Slightly off-topic, when I was at Illinois Institute of Technology in the 70's the bookstore sold a bumper sticker: "Sicks munce ago I couldnt even spel 'engineer' and now I are one" it was quite popular

 

Post #379287
Posted Thursday, July 5, 2007 9:59 AM


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I got my cert because I worked on 3 of the books (441, 443, 444).

To me the cert does prove you have some knowledge IF you have experience as well. It shows you spent time to prove your knowledge and likely learned a few things in preparation. It's kind of like a college degree in that it proves you can learn, you can take a test under some pressure, and you are willing to work on your career.

I think you need a book for the 731 exam. If for nothing else than to focus you on a number of tasks and give you exercises to work through. DEFINITELY spend time in SSMS working through tasks, even simple ones like adding or deleting a login. The exam (731) will require some of those skills with a subset of SSMS.

The others are more "read and decipher the requirements v questions". I didn't think any of the others were that difficult.







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Post #379294
Posted Thursday, July 5, 2007 10:11 AM
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I totally agree with Brian.  Certifications are no guarantee of a quality employee.  However, in my opinion, a person who took the time to get a certification has gone on and beyond the call of duty. 

 

Earning certifications gives me a goal to shoot for and forces me to learn new features and other ways of working with the product.   I spend months studying and performing practices, so that I have a good working knowledge before I go into the test.  I am currently working towards my MCITP.


Also, I have found that certifications open doors to promotions, new technology fields, bonuses, and other rewards.  Additionally, at your annual review it is a notable accomplishment to point out.  Even if your current employer doesn’t reward you for a certification, I have always found that earning them always pays off somewhere down the line.

 

Bill Richards, MCSE, MCDBA

Senior Database Analyst

Post #379297
Posted Thursday, July 5, 2007 2:27 PM


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I think as far as companies go, having a certification keeps the HR droids and other management happy - it gives them a quick indication of who might be suitable for the job (tech-wise). For outsourcers, it also means they can boast to their [potential] customers that they have x number of MS certified people, so the systems are in good hands.

Of course, _we_ all know that a cert doesn't necessarily mean a thing and that the only way to really tell is to ask a few questions when interviewing prospective job seekers.

Case in point - at a previous job, one of our helpdesk drones got his MCSE so he could move up in the IT world. But he did it purely through book reading. Not long after that, he rang up my team leader one day to ask him how to take the cover off a Compaq small form factor PC (one of those ones with a clip at the front, both sides, that you pressed in then lifted the cover). He had motivation at least, just not much experience or the inquisitive mindset that is needed for troubleshooting (even at its most basic). Don't know what became of him, but hopefully he has the experience to back up the qualification now.

Experience counts for more than a bit of paper, and I think MS are going along with that in revising their exam content, basing it more on using the product rather than what's in the book.





Scott Duncan

MARCUS. Why dost thou laugh? It fits not with this hour.
TITUS. Why, I have not another tear to shed;
--Titus Andronicus, William Shakespeare
Post #379369
Posted Thursday, July 5, 2007 2:59 PM
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I always recommend half.com as a source for used books. I've gotten some great deals from them. They're generally comparable to Amazon's used sellers. I've only been burned once by a vendor who confirmed the order but then never shipped and never replied to email. I did get my money back, but it certainly screwed me up at the start of the semester.

I would also recommend doing a mental health self-eval the day before the test. If something bad has happened, don't be afraid to call the testing center and reschedule the exam. I was scheduled for my CCNA exam and two days before it a friend of mine died unexpectedly. As he was younger than me and pretty close, this really rattled me. I failed the test by 3 points IIRC, it could have been as little as one question. I sailed through it on the retest, but don't be afraid to push it back if you have something nasty happen just before the test.


I think that overall a degree in an IT field is more useful than a cert, but having the cert plus the degree is definitely good. It's all a matter of getting through HR's filters. I had to do a technical eval on a PC because I didn't have the degree, and I got the job, so I guess I did OK. THE FOOLS! I'LL SHOW THEM ALL! BWAHAHAHAHAHA!
Post #379376
Posted Thursday, July 5, 2007 3:30 PM


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Mr. Gates dropped out of college & never got the degree either. Look where he wound up
Post #379379
Posted Thursday, July 5, 2007 4:06 PM
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If there's one person whom I wouldn't want as a role model, it would be Bill Gates! I don't know of any computer industry tycoons that I'd like to pattern myself after. I'd probably go for Chris Date or EF Codd if I could make such a choice.

Undeniably Bill has done good for himself and he's given pretty much everyone on this site a good living with some cool toys. But how much of that is business acumen vs geek skill? I'd say more of the former than the latter. Bill Vaughn ("Hitchhiker's Guide to SQL Server" books) would also be another one. I've had a bit of correspondence with him, he seems like a pretty cool dude with a good sense of humor.

I do have a degree now and I'm working towards improving it. I don't know if I'll ever bother with the PhD level, though I'm sure my wife would love having two in the family. She calls me the smartest uneducated man that she knows.
Post #379384
Posted Thursday, July 5, 2007 5:45 PM


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Certs are really an "eye of the beholder" thing. Some people will swear by them, and others will consider them nothing more than a money making gimmick.

Recently my company interviewed a whole swag of candidates. About half had a cert of some sort, though the worse result on our standard test was an MCDBA: 2 out of 24.

At a previous company, a manager had told me that having a degree is useless skills-wise, it's only purpose is to open doors. Certs are perhaps the same.

For myself, I'll probably get one one day simply because every second person already has one, and if you get that interviewer who *requires* that piece of paper above all else....

S.
Post #379395
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