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The Voice of the DBA

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

I'm Certified, Now What?

I saw an article from Certification Magazine recently (via Trainsignal on twitter) with that title. It compared the completion of certification to that of a marathon runner. You've completed a marathon, after all the training, and now what?

I'm not sure that's a great comparison, but it does beg the question of what to do when you've completed your MCITPro, MCSE, or any other certification.

Surprisingly, I found quite a few other articles with that same title, and I thought this one from the MD Dept of Transportation was great. It talks about what companies that get certified to do business with the state should do, and it really lets you know that certification is the first step, not the last one.

Their advice?

  • aggressively market
  • identify possible employers
  • contact them
  • keep inquiring about new opportunities
  • research opportunities
  • network
  • use resources

Is it any different for individual workers? I'd argue that it's not, and you should view a certification as the base step for moving your career forward. Whether you are coming out of college, or a twenty year veteran in your industry, the certification can add to your credentials, but it's just an addition, it isn't the ultimate goal or measure of your value.

I think certifications can help. They force you to learn something, and they help you to focus in certain areas. I'm sure there are plenty of people that just try to memorize topics and answers, but that should still help them. Whether they'll be able to apply those skills in the real world is a separate question, but they still have improved skills.

And that's what you also need to do. In addition to just marketing yourself, and showing off your certification, you also want to show that you've learned a few things. Blog and relate your studying back to your job, or to something in that area. I'd argue you should have been doing this all along, but it's never too late.

Pick up a project of some sort, even if you just duplicate some work of someone else. Show that you have picked up skills and can start to apply them. Make a point of communicating that you can apply your skills.

And if you can't do that, perhaps that's the next step for you. Learn to apply those skills and don't assume that certification will carry you along.

Comments

Posted by Dugi on 27 July 2009

Different situation in different locations!!!

Somewhere if you do not have certifications you cannot get nice salary even if you have much experience and you are totally suitable to work in your present job place. Somewhere others could see you as over qualified person if you have many certifications and they don't talk to you even if you are the expert for them. Somewhere you are in very nice job place like me, but too pure organization and management skills, with no projects at all to move on with new technologies, etc etc. So, I think after certifications, you will search for the nice job even if  you are employed (why not, if you can, you are specialized for that), you will continue to learn more and more, and sure choose to work with nice salary because you deserve it with your learning & practicing during certifications.

Finally I can be wrong what I say here, but I talk from my point of where I'm living and working! - Hope to be better than we are...

Posted by Anonymous on 27 July 2009

Kudos for a great Sql Server article - Trackback from SqlServerKudos

Posted by matt on 30 July 2009

I am starting down the path of re-certifying, in part just to solidify my knowledge. After getting an MCSE and watching it become the joke certification of the industry, I pretty much lost interest in MS certifications until the recent more specialized certification paths. I am not certain which path I will take (sadly DBA isn't my main source of revenue), most likely I will get two MCITPs.

I must say that the MCITP is not a well recognized certification in the business world, ie if you go to most HR departments they will wrinkle their brow when they look at it. Likewise, if I put it on my business cards a lot of companys don't recognize it. For that reason, I think that MS needs to do a better job in marketing their new certifications to the non-IT world.

Posted by TimothyAWiseman on 30 July 2009

Matt has an excellent point.  One of the values of certifications is to show that you have certain minimal skills to people who are not technically minded.  (The technically minded will figure it out quickly by talking to you.)  Those people are often the most important to convince as they frequently include management and HR.  Microsoft would do very well to more highly publicize the MCITP to those kinds of people.

Posted by Sadequl Hussain on 30 July 2009

One benefit of certification is that it can make the examinee concentrate on the topic in a structured, regular fashion. When you are studying for a certification, and practicing, you are forced to take a structured approach and you are also dedicating a certain amount of time every day or week for knowing the technology (Windows, SQL or Exchange or Linux or whatever). Spending time to learn a technology often becomes quite difficult with work and family commitments. When you have a certification goal, you at least know you are workintg for something and the goal can motivate you to keep learning more.

Posted by Anonymous on 30 July 2009

Pingback from  SQL Server Central | www.certifications.drfouly.net

Posted by Anonymous on 30 July 2009

Pingback from  SQL Server Central | www.certifications.drfouly.net

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