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What to do about certification

After my editorial “The Missing Certification” I was amazed at the debate that took place. As of the time I’m writing this, this thread has over 7,000 views and 600 replies!

It’s incredible to see people debating certification, but what’s evolved is kind of a working thread that looks at creating a new certification that’s in between the MCITP and the MCM. I think those certifications are too easy, and too hard, respectively, for the average person.

In my mind, we ought to have a stepping stone for certification that includes some harder tests along with a narrower focus that can better assess if an individual has a skill. So far the debate has been a general focus, but I hope that they work towards a narrow focus that creates tests in specific areas.

As an example, in my mind, I’d like to have a series of T-SQL tests that examine how well someone can solve common problems, and implement well performing solutions. I’d think there would be 2-3 tests here, and that some level of scoring for each one that could be presented as a part of your resume, but also would show that you understand how to use the language. I’d anticipate tests that covered:

  • Basic ANSI SQL
  • T-SQL Enhancements (from 2005/2008)
  • High performing T-SQL – Covering improvements that avoid RBAR type solutions and write code that performs extremely well.

We’ll see what happens, and while I know certification is no guarantee, I think that we can get a better process that has a good chance of actually assessing a person’s skills.

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


Posted by Jason Brimhall on 12 April 2010

Thanks Steve for this post.  I like those suggestions covering T-SQL.

Posted by Seth Phelabaum on 12 April 2010

That's a lot of comments... lots of good feedback for Microsoft there.

I'd love to take some T-SQL Tests =).

Posted by Glenn Berry on 12 April 2010

I wonder how many of the people who dismiss MCITP-Developer and MCITP-Database Administrator as being too easy actually have either one of those certifications for SQL Server 2005 or SQL Server 2008?

I would be willing to guess that quite a few of the naysayers have not even taken one of the current exams, but rather have just heard second hand that the exams are too easy. That makes it a little easier to justify not taking an exam after all...

I too am interested in something above MCITP and below MCM, but I think that people are grossly underestimating the resources required to develop, maintain and administer a certification system. Even for the Microsoft/Prometric computerized exams, developing an exam is very expensive. There are a limited number of questions in the testbank for each exam, and even writing and editing them is expensive and takes months of work.

If you wanted T-SQL based exams, it would probably require manual grading. Who is going to do that, and how much would it cost? How would you maintain security on the exam questions?

I just don't think PASS has the resources to do all of this.

Posted by Steve Jones on 12 April 2010

I've taken the exams for 2005, one for 2008. Way, way too easy for me.

In terms of the T-SQL ones, I think you could automate the examination of result sets and determine if the proper data were being returned.

Glenn, you are correct about resources. I do simple, Question of the Day things and it's a lot of effort to do those, much less build a large pool of questions, test them, make sure they are written well, etc.

Posted by Jason Brimhall on 12 April 2010

To add a little to what Glenn  said about resources, it takes a lot of resources to even come to a consensus on how such a certification should be conducted.  Proctoring exams and writing questions will take a considerable amount of resources beyond determining requirements etc.

I think an important consideration is to find out if there is adequate support in the community.  If most don't care and those speaking out is too few or far between - then it is hard to mount a good argument that the system needs to be changed.

Posted by Anonymous on 20 April 2010

Pingback from  Stepping Stone Cert II | SQL RNNR

Posted by Anonymous on 20 April 2010

Pingback from  Stepping Stone Cert II (ssp) | SQL RNNR

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