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Degree Seeker Week at SQL University, Lesson 2

Degree Seeker Week at SQL University, Lesson 2

Welcome once again eager learners to Lesson 2 of Degree Seeker Week at SQL University. I’m your guest professor for this course. I'm a little late getting to class today as I spent a large part of today fighting failing hard drives and allergies, but let's get class started. Today's lesson will investigate the Specialist and Professional series of certifications for SQL Server. We'll delve into the various tests required for each certification track and what resources are available for preparing for the exams.

There are three certification tracks that I am going to talk about today. The tracks are as follows:

  • Database Administrator
  • Database Developer
  • Business Intelligence Developer

Hopefully you have read Lesson 1. If not, I recommend doing so now.

SQL Server Certification Tracks

In the following section, I'm going to show you some details about what information is available for specific tracks on the Microsoft Learning Site. I'm not going to go into the details for all tracks. The key point I want you to take away from this is that the Microsoft Learning Site is a wealth of information and a great place to start preparing for a certification exam. It will give you a breakdown on what topics may be covered by the exam and points you to preparatory resources to help you get ready. I will go over the facts from this site for the Database Administrator track. From that point, I think you will be able to navigate your way through the resource pages for any certification exam.

Another take-away from this discussion will be the point that the Microsoft Learning Site isn't going to cover everything. You'll see that as the level of certification gets higher, the preparatory resources available gets fewer. Once you feel that you are this level of certification, you will need to branch out and start creating your own training exercises to prepare.

Database Administrator Track

The Database Administrator track is segmented into two categories. The Specialist series is geared towards professionals who perform basic administrative tasks such as installing, configuring, and maintaining SQL Server, The Professional series is targeted to individuals who design, implement, optimize, and maintain SQL Server infrastructures.

The MCTS is the certification available for the Specialist series. For this particular track, the actual certification is MCTS: Implementation and Maintenance. This certification is attained by successfully completing test # 70-432. This test is intended for professionals with 1 to 3 years experience working in an administrative capacity with SQL Server.

Here are some quick facts about this test from the Microsoft Learning Site:

    Skills being measured:
  • Installing and Configuring SQL Server 2008 (10 percent)
  • Maintaining SQL Server Instances (13 percent)
  • Managing SQL Server Security (15 percent)
  • Maintaining a SQL Server Database (16 percent)
  • Performing Data Management Tasks (14 percent)
  • Monitoring and Troubleshooting SQL Server (13 percent)
  • Optimizing SQL Server Performance (10 percent)
  • Implementing High Availability (9 percent)

The certification tests are designed to measure your level of knowledge and experience. It is advisable for even seasoned professionals to do a certain amount of studying. One popular way to prepare for the certification tests are to start off with a practice test to measure your current abilities and identify the areas you need to concentrate on for training. A number of resources are available via the Microsoft Learning Site:

    Preparation Materials
  • Classroom Training
    • 6231A: Maintaining a Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Database (5 Days)
    • 2778A: Writing Queries Using Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Transact-SQL (3 Days)
  • Microsoft E-Learning
    • 6369AE: Implementing and Maintaining Microsoft SQL Server 2008 (16 Hours)
    • 2778CE: Writing Queries Using Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Transact-SQL (18 Hours)
  • Microsoft Press Books
    • MCTS Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-432): Microsoft SQL Server 2008 - Implementation and Maintenance
  • Practice Tests
    • MeasureUp (Measureup.com)
    • Self Test Software (Selftestsoftware.com)
  • And More ...

The MCITP certification is the next step in the Database Administrator track. in order to attain this certification, you must achieve the MCTS certification as well. Now there is no hard rule that you must first do the MCTS exam, but you won't get the MCITP certification until both exams have been passed. the exam for this certification is test # 70-450. Here are some quick facts about this exam from the Microsoft Learning Site.

    Skills Measured
  • Designing a SQL Server Instance and a Database Solution (14 percent)
  • Designing a Database Server Security Solution (15 percent)
  • Designing a Database Solution for High Availability (15 percent)
  • Designing a Backup and Recovery Solution (20 percent)
  • Designing a Monitoring Strategy (13 percent)
  • Designing a Strategy to Maintain and Manage Databases (14 percent)
  • Designing a Strategy for Data Distribution (9 percent)
    Preparation Materials
  • Classroom Training: There is no classroom training currently available.
  • Microsoft E-Learning: There is no Microsoft E-Learning training currently available.
  • Microsoft Press Books: There are no Microsoft Press books currently available.
  • Practice Tests
    • MeasureUp (Measureup.com)
    • Self Test Software (Selftestsoftware.com)
  • And More ...

Database Developer and BI Developer Tracks

Like the Database Administrator track, the developer tracks are each segmented into two parts, an exam for the MCTS certification and an exam for the MCITP certification. Below is some basic information for each of these exams:

Database Developer Track

MCTS: Database Development
70-433: Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Database Development
MCITP Database Developer
70-451: Designing Database Solutions and Data Access Using Microsoft SQL Server 2008

BI Developer Track

MCTS: Business Intelligence Development and Maintenance
70-448: Business Intelligence Development and Maintenance
MCITP: BI Developer
70-452: Designing a Business Intelligence Infrastructure Using Microsoft SQL Server 2008

Best Practices for Preparing for Certification Exams

  1. Get experience: First and foremost certifications are a measurement of your knowledge and experience. Before you take an exam, get some experience in the field even if you have to create it yourself in a lab.
  2. Take a self-test: A self-test will help you gauge where you are at and what areas of knowledge you need to develop.
  3. Study: Take classes, read books, or do whatever works best for you when you learn.
  4. Practice: Don't just read about writing code or configuring and installing SQL Server. Do it!! Go through the steps several times until you are comfortable doing it.

Summation

When you first look at getting certified, it may appear to be a daunting task.With experience and a good amount of preparation under your belt, it can be a relatively stress free activity. I remember well the stress and worry I felt the first time I took a certification test (for SQL Server 2000). I studied for weeks; I practiced the self-tests until I could get the answer right 100% of the time, and I practiced installing and configuring SQL Server over and over again. When I actually took the test, I discovered that I knew the material inside and out. It turned out that I really had nothing to worry about, because I had prepared so diligently. Fast forward to my MCITP certifications for SQL Server 2008, and I was so confident, that I walked in without any preparation and aced both tests to upgrade my SQL Server 2005 MCITP certifications to SQL Server 2008.

The morale of that story is that with proper preparation, you don't need to worry about the exams. If you are ready, you will not have a problem with the exams. To those of you going after your MCTS or MCITP certification, best wishes to you!!

Comments

Posted by Jason Brimhall on 8 July 2010

My first SQL Cert test was SQL 6.5.  That was extremely stress filled - but well worth it.  Now the whole process is definitely a lot less daunting.

Posted by Robert L Davis on 8 July 2010

Yep, those were the good old days.

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