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The SQL Server MCM Training Has Changed

follow the leaderOne thing that stuck out for me at the PASS Summit was the changes announced for the SQL Server Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) Program.  The MCM program is Microsoft’s upper tier database administration certification.  It is aimed at providing a validation of skills and knowledge for those with 5 or more years experience with SQL Server.

Old Ways

When the MCM program was originally created it included a three weeks of training out at Microsoft in Redmond.  During this training, which was more like 21-days versus 3-weeks, participants were locked in a room for some hardcore training on SQL Server. 

At the end of each week, the participant would take an exam that tested the participant on the subjects covered throughout the week.  Then at the end of three weeks the participants take a lab exam that covers a scenario that needs to be solved.

For more information about this process, check out Brent Ozar’s journey through the MCM.

Shore Leave - 3 by baldhereticEver since the program was announced, I have been gearing up for it and trying to figure out how I could attend.  Of course, two things got in the way with this goal.  The first was the cost – it was $18,500 for course and testing followed by the three weeks required for the course itself.

Over coming both of these wasn’t a matter of knowledge.  They were more about bringing together the appropriate resources.  As for myself, I have been trying to coordinate when I could take three weeks off for one of rotations.  Some of the more recent conversations for this was pushing this out to 2012.  In the end, aligning this had nothing to do with what I knew only the flexibility of my schedule (and some cash).

In this case, as GI Joe used to say, “Knowing is half the battle.”

The Golden Path

In comes the PASS Summit and the announcement from Microsoft Learning.  The training requirement for the SQL Server MCM certification has been removed from the MCM program.  As a result, the MCM requirements now require two exams:

  • Exam 88-970: SQL Server 2008 Microsoft Certified Master: Knowledge Exam
  • Exam 88-971: SQL Server 2008 Microsoft Certified Master: Lab Exam

If you are a classroom learner, you can still take training from SQL Skills to get yourself up to the point where you are ready for the MCM certification tests.  But if you are like me, classroom learning is not my strong suit.  I would rather sit down with a book and SQL Server Management Studio and dig into it all on my own.

To start getting prepared, take a look at the links below.  One of which is a reading list.  The other is a number of videos put together by SQLSkills.

For more information on the changes to the MCM program, check out the following posts.

Now GI Joe can say, “Knowing is the whole battle.”

Related posts:

  1. MCM Reading List – A New Years Resolution
  2. Passed Exam 70-452
  3. Free SQL Server Training


Posted by Glenn Berry on 17 November 2010

I am also happy they made these changes. I am studying to get ready for the knowledge exam in December, and then we will see what happens after that.

Posted by StrateSQL on 18 November 2010

I am trying to get through the MCM videos for the examn next Monday.  Where did the last 4 weeks go?!  Hopefully, I'll be ready to go.

Posted by RichardB on 19 November 2010

Cool, that does look easier and certainly more accessible, but somehow less impressive!

Shame the only testing sites in the UK are all in the west country... Cardiff, Bristol and Plymouth and Belfast.  

All centers of known DBA sightings in the wild... We never seem to see DBAs in London or Reading or the wider South East!

Posted by Jason Brimhall on 15 December 2010

I wish I had seen this post sooner.  Nice set of resources.

Posted by Anonymous on 16 December 2010

Pingback from  Powershell, Me and the MCM | SQL RNNR

Posted by Ellon Peterkin on 7 January 2011

WOW... This has changed significantly. I think it will actually be harder. Before there were 4 exams: 3 written and 1 lab. Now it is 1 written and 1 lab. It seems that they bundled all of the prior 3 written exams into 1. So instead of being able to focus on fewer areas for each of 3 exams you now have to be ready in every area for 1 exam. Thats a lot of content and I expect, a more difficult exam!!

Posted by Leon Orlov on 20 June 2011

Thanks for putting it all together.  This is a good starting point for MCM.  Just passed my MCITP and thinking about MCM.

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