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Microsoft SQL Server certification

A few weeks ago I was engaged in a useful discussion about the merits of getting certified on Microsoft SQL Server.  A number of people I've talked with about the MCDBA certification share my opinion that these tests were too easy and therefore held limited value to one's career.  After all, what does it matter if you have a mess of alphabet soup beside your title if everyone else in the field has the same thing?

For that reason, I have been hoping for a tougher set of certifications - and at first glance it appears that I won't be disappointed.  The talk among those who have taken the various SQL Server cert exams is that the exams are passable but are tough as nails.  In fact, I have been working with SQL Server 2005 since its final CTP, and I failed the first few online assessments I took on the Microsoft training site.  Even though it gave me a little sense of defeat to read "You Failed!", I am encouraged that the exams actually test the level of knowledge and experience with the product rather than testing one's ability to memorize a lot of facts.  Even the guys at Microsoft say that the new SQL Server exams are some of the toughest that they've taken.

In addition to the difficulty of the exams, Microsoft has dictated that this new family of certifications will expire three years after issue.  This is a marked difference in the "once certified, always certified" model that Microsoft has used in the past. While I don't enjoy the thought of having to spend time and money to recertify every three years, this requirement can only drive up the market value of being certified.

Microsoft can't set the market value for their certifications - only the marketplace can do that.  However, by implementing more difficult exams and expiring certifications, they have given us as SQL Server professionals a higher standard of excellence.  As I pursue my MCTS and later the MCITP, I will be interested to see how these new certs are regarded by prospective employers and clients.

Tim Mitchell

Tim Mitchell is a business intelligence consultant, author, trainer, and Microsoft Data Platform MVP with over thirteen years of data management experience. He is the founder and principal of Tyleris Data Solutions.

Tim has spoken at international and local events including the SQL PASS Summit, SQLBits, SQL Connections, along with dozens of tech fests, code camps, and SQL Saturday events. He is coauthor of the book SSIS Design Patterns, and is a contributing author on MVP Deep Dives 2.

You can visit his website and blog at TimMitchell.net or follow him on Twitter at @Tim_Mitchell.


Posted by brian on 21 February 2007
Does the "expiring cert" style also effect network certs or does this just effect DB cers?
Posted by Markus Bohse on 26 February 2007
Not so sure what to think about the expiring certification thing. I don't really think it's necessary, because a certification is linked to a certain product version(SQL 2000, 2005) and on average there's a new version every 3-4 years anyway.
About the new exams, I'm surprised to hear that people seem to find them so difficult. Ok, it's a new style of exams having case studies and as always you can argue quite a lot of the answers, but even without any specific exam preparation I passed the MCTS and the MCITP for DBA and Developers. Especially the 70-444 exam I found very easy. Anyhow as long as there are things around like TestKing or Transcender, it will always be difficult to judge the real value of certifications.
Posted by qiang on 27 February 2007
hi there, just want to tell you that the dark backgroud color with text in white on your site really hurts readers' eyes... well, at leat mine. After read through this page, some constant flashing stripes stayed in my vision at least 30 seconds...
Posted by SAL on 28 February 2007
As someone(Beginner) who is looking to study SQL Server, what would you suggest as a starting point?

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