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Rangers to Masters

The new Certified Master program sounds suspiciously like the Microsoft Certified Architect program, which appears to have been revamped to be a step above this one as it's now a requirement. When that was announced a year or so ago it required weeks of time and $25,000.

Tim Mitchell had some interesting comments on this, and for the most part I agree with him. This isn't a certification for most people. It's like something that's a PhD-equivalent, something that I'm not sure many of us would invest in, especially given the pace of change to the products.

In fact, with new versions being scheduled about 30 months apart, and now a major refresh scheduled for the first half of 2010 for SQL Server 2008 (18 months after RTM), it's almost silly to spent US$20k becoming an expert on a product when that certification will be dated by the time you get it. Imagine that you need 6 months post-RTM to be sure you know the product well, then you go for the 6 weeks and pass. That means that you've got to pay back (likely) your $40k investment (don't forget 6 weeks off of work) inside of 5 years or so before your certification would be out of date. And you've have another version to learn in the meantime.

This certification serves a purpose, perhaps something that some high end trainers and consultants (Microsoft Consulting Services people perhaps), especially PSS Support people, should go through. I have a few friends at Microsoft go through Ranger training, which appears to be the precursor to this program. It's a good program and you come out of there knowing a lot about SQL Server, but is it worth it for most people?


We need some type of certification that conveys value, that demonstrates you know how to use a version of the product. I'd love for this to be some type of certification you can point to, similar to an MD, that you must continue to work on as versions change, but shows that you've done some investment in your skills, in those core skills (SQL, database design, etc.) and then continued to work on it through various versions. Sort of like MDs do with continuing education.

There were rumors that IEEE was working on something, but I haven't seen much lately.

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Steve Jones is the editor of SQLServerCentral.com and visits a wide variety of data related topics in his daily editorial. Steve has spent years working as a DBA and general purpose Windows administrator, primarily working with SQL Server since it was ported from Sybase in 1990. You can follow Steve on Twitter at twitter.com/way0utwest


Posted by Brent Ozar on 2 December 2008

I'd disagree that a certification will be dated by the time you get it.  I've got customers that are just now doing SQL Server 2005 projects for the first time because they're migrating off SQL Server 2000 - and those SQL Server 2000 boxes are still around.

You're totally right that it's not worth it for most people - but that's the point, just like the PhD degree isn't worth it for most people.  The MCSE was "worth it for most people" - and look how that turned out...

Posted by Steve Jones on 2 December 2008

Perhaps, things definitely stick around a lot, but if you're trading on that certification, you're somewhat on a treadmill. You don't want to get a 2005 cert and not upgrade it to 2008, which means you're looking for 2008 work to get those skills sharp.

I do agree that most people don't want/need a PhD. It's a limited cert, and in that sense there is some value. However a  PhD is usually in a field that has some longevity to it, not 5-10 years.

We need a cert that's more of a BA level, something beyond a MCSE, which is like taking the SATs.

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