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70-433 Or Bust: Working toward MCTS Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Database Development

The 70-433 will be my first Microsoft certification test. There are two main reasons why I've decided to take on this quest.

The first reason is to "fill in the cracks." Even on fundamental topics I've found myself saying "oh - I didn't know that" while taking a training class or studying a technical book. Having reviewed the material covered for the 70-433 Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Database Development test, I fully expect to learn some things and get clear on others.

The second reason has to do with the economics of information: There are information costs to get accurate information about someone. I think having a certification lowers the information costs for future employers and business partners. Employers face some of the same dilemmas that a single person does while dating. A candidate wants to highlight strengths whether real or imaginary and diminish weaknesses. The information that's most readily available about a candidate isn't necessarily accurate. More information is needed to verify and clarify the reality. So what if one has 10 years of experience? Perhaps some of that time was merely wasted? In my view, I want to make it as easy as possible for others to do business with me - so I'll take on the costs of time, effort and funds to get certified - and I think that's worth something.

Joel Spolsky openly admits that he lifted the addage "smart and gets things done" on what to look for in a job candidate from Microsoft. However, he also added "not a jerk." So put that together and you get "smart, pleasant and gets things done." Notice that "certified" isn't on the list. However in Spolsky's book "Joel on Software" suggests that "smart" can be verified to some extent by looking for some kind of selective entrance - like an ivy-league school or elite military group. Certifications follow the same logic. So, no - the certification won't prove that I'm pleasant or that I get things done, but it does show that I'm smart enough to pass a pretty challenging test and that I'm versed in the knowledge covered by the test.

Joel on Software: And on Diverse and Occasionally Related Matters That Will Prove of Interest to Software Developers, Designers, and Managers, and to Those Who, Whether by Good Fortune or Ill Luck, Work with Them in Some Capacity

So I went out and got the official Microsoft Training Kit and am now plodding through with SQL Server 2008 installed on my laptop. Unfortunately, we're not on 2008 at work yet - but plan to soon.

MCTS Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-433): Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008 Database Development

More posts will follow as I work my way to the completion of this challenging quest. Wish me luck.


Bill Nicolich

A big fan of SQLServerCentral, I hope to add good posts for the general enjoyment of other readers at SQLServer Central. Also check my personal blog for additional comments, recommendations and such at SQLFave.blogspot.com.


Posted by Godfrey Chapeshamano on 31 July 2009

...one of the best reasons for certification I have come across.

Posted by mike.mcquillan on 31 July 2009

I echo your sentiments; I passed 70-433 in June and I've written a guide to the exams which may help you (hoping SQL Server Central will be publishing it some time soon). I've also subsequently passed 70-451.

You do learn a lot taking the exams - I knew nothing of DML triggers previously, for example. If you would like any advice please feel free to contact me.

Posted by Andeavour on 31 July 2009

I agree... I just passed 70-432 and am now looking at both 70-450 and 70-433. Got the book for 70-433, but gutted that there seems to be no technical kit for 70-450 (or presumably 451 either).

Eventually aiming for these 4, plus the BI certifications as well. I reckon I should get there just in time to start again for SQL 2010.

Posted by David Gorrod on 31 July 2009

Totally agree. Certification seems to polarise opinion, but im very happy to have invested time and money taking mine. I think its the negative comments tend to come from those who havent certified - maybe they feel threatened? At the end of the day, it will never do you any harm in doing them

Posted by jswong05 on 31 July 2009

I found out you can be as good without a certificate. This is not a "feeld threadened" statement. A person can learn how to answer exam questions correctly without the ability to solve the real world problem. A person who does exam well can do well in real world, but exam certificate is not the only way to prove a person can be exceptional DBA. Try GRE-engineering test on the MIT professors? I bet half will fail below average. Why? you know and I know.

Posted by Rylin Slotterbeck on 31 July 2009

It doesn't hurt to have.  I have recently passed 70-433 and it's a nice foundation of information to have but I feel the real challenge and bigger return on studying and real world solutions would be to get the IT Professional certification, which I will persue next.  Good luck on your test.

Posted by Rick Sline on 31 July 2009

A relevant certification never hurts, there's a question of whether it's worth the time & effort.  I've always learned a bunch while studying specifically for an exam - having taken about a dozen of the Microsoft exams.  Much of the material is minutiae that you'll seldom if ever use and can easily lookup when you need it.  When I was doing the hiring I'd actually have people write a little code.

The last round of SQL Server exams I took were for the '05 version as part of my .NET certs; exams were fairly easy compared to .NET or VB6 before that.  I'm not sure whether I'll take the VS2008 or VS2010 exams and might take a few SQL exams time permitting. I have 25 years experience developing apps.

To some employers a cert in lieu of experience is a red flag.  Despite .NET certs and solid work history, I've gotten tripped up in interviews when employers are looking for specific words - "disconnected recordset" - I mentioned 20 other more complex issues thinking that disconnected recordset was understood; didn't get the job.

On hswong05's comments MIT professors - they're not that sharp - they gave me an engineeering degree :)

Posted by satishchandra on 31 July 2009

what is the difference between Exam 70-451 and Exam 70-433.

Both are related to

"Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Database Development" but under different certification streams.

Exam 70-451 is under MCITP and Exam 70-433 under MCTS.

Planning to write my first MS certification. Not sure which one to opt in these two. Any suggestions welcome.

Posted by harriskam on 1 August 2009

am hoping to start my certifications soon because i belive its not waste of time and resources though i  need somebody to advice me on which is the best.

Posted by dejeanja on 1 August 2009

very interesting article! I recently passed MCTS:SQL Server 2005, and am working towards MCITP:Database Developer (SQL Server 2005).  As many have said, one learns a lot in preparing for the exams; however, the opportunity to use the knowledge may not always present itself in the work environment.  Still, there is much satisfaction in accomplishing a goal!

Posted by mike.mcquillan on 2 August 2009

In response to satishchandra - you cannot take exam 70-451 without having already passed 70-433. Passing 70-433 denotes you have a good understanding of general SQL08 development, including T-SQL and basic SQLCLR.

70-451 is more in-depth and expects you to know about things like SQLCLR triggers and aggregates, for example.

If you pass 70-433 a few weeks extra revision should see you through 70-451.

Posted by japa62 on 3 August 2009

Personally having certificates has been benificial. Having gained MOSx4 certificates, MCAS Excel 2007 and 70-431 certs has increased my pay by just over A$20k over the last 2 years. I'm up for another review early next year so when I have my 70-433 and BOXI certs finished late this year, I am assured of another couple A$k. Of course, it is not just the certs that assure this for me. Increased productivity and customer satisfaction is a major part as well, which is mostly coming from the study for the exams. But a small % increase is guaranteed for each cert gained so planning for 3-4 a year.

And ta all the SQLServerCentral team for excellent articals. Looking forward to your guide, Mike.

Posted by Bill Nicolich on 5 August 2009

QuickCert posts a salary chart showing base salary by certification: www.quickcert.com/res_salarychart.cfm. The chart might help one justify the pursuit of a certification.

Posted by jakeshivers on 25 August 2009

I am prepping for 70-433.  Could anyone give me some advice, pointers or tips?

JakeShivers [at] gmail.com

Posted by add2700 on 31 August 2009


How goes it studying for this exam? My just requested the 433 book and transcender.

Any caveat's, tips, etc?

Posted by Bill Nicolich on 31 August 2009

add2700: Study goes well. I'll tell you my plan.

There are seven overall objectives covered by the test, listed at the front of the 70-433 training kit. I'm using this list to track my progress. Next to each objective like "Create and Alter Tables" I'll mark with a symbol like circle, square, triangle, etc. to denote the following statuses: reviewed, practice test, mastered, need more help.

My chosen pace is to take two weeks per main objective for review and practice tests. I plan to tack on a few more weeks to get solid on any areas needed and to do a final review. I've taken a couple of weeks off to get three w3schools certifications. I'm done with two and should be done with the third by the end of the week. Then I'll get back to the 70-433.

I'm following the book on my laptop with SQL Server 2008 open. I've downloaded the sample code. After I've finished reviewing all the lessons under a main objective, I'm taking a custom practice test using the test software from the kit. If that goes well, then I'll mark the lessons as reviwed, practice test and mastered. If it didn't go well, then I'll mark reviwed, practice test, need more help.

One caveat I've come across is that the practice tests have gone into a good bit more detail occasionally than the book material. The book mentions the TSQL built-in scalar functions, and mentions that one should spend some time reviweing and trying them. One of the test questions asked for the data type of one of the parameters for one of the functions. Who'se going to memorize that? Me - if I plan to do well on the test. So, I'm planning to set up a series of flash cards to help me with the memorization of details about the functions. I'm familiar with them and have used them, but I'm accustomed to using references for some of the details. The test is pushing me to memorize more details.

Good luck. If anyone has got advice they want to share, please do.

Posted by Anthony Johnson on 5 August 2011

I do believe that certification helps in any situation.  It always increases your chances.  It may not trump experience but the certification with the experience wins over all.

Posted by chitticks on 23 November 2012

Well how did your studying go? Did you get certified in the end up?

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