20 years of Certification: practicing what I preach


Thanks to so much content on Microsoft Learning, and after repetitive abuse of the laboratory for Azure's many online learning modules, a couple of weeks back, I managed to pass the DP 200 exam. I shall continue with DP 201 next to ensure that the transformation from MCDBA to Data platform engineer, and ultimately associate, is achieved.

As mentioned in the title, it has been 20 years, with an average of 1 exam every two years, that I have kept up with our profession as a DBA. Needless to say, I thoroughly recommend certification.  It has certainly given me an edge with respect to several mandates over the past two decades, and even at the least, a decent boost of confidence with respect to being able to quickly process through complex database infrastructure problems within the highly evolved/ing cloud platform, whether AWS or Azure.

Just having a University degree is not enough to be competitive in the job market, you have to get loads of experience as well as keep up post–graduate studies in what my father likes to describe as 'waves'. Reading up on new methods to maintain the fast pace of change, especially in the database world, is great, but putting yourself under pressure to pass an exam takes the integration of that knowledge to the next step.  You'd be surprised how much one can accomplish.

Resembling many contributors to SSC, best practices are a sought after by the never stop studying types or those who espouse Kaizen, to name a few Ideologies, and this is nothing novel.  Over a thousand years back, Charlemagne became very successful at uniting Western Europe by not only the sword, but due to his constant desire to study and improve how his domain was governed. As a Holy Roman Emperor, notice where that got him, hence why we should too. There’s an audience of a millions of DBAs/developers here on SSC, let’s continue to study and support each other – who knows, like Sir Isaac Newton said, all he did was stand on the shoulders of giants (such a humble professional and genius at the same time). There are plenty of good minds contributing to SSC, thus we are collectively we’re doing the best we can to share with the data platform community. I’m still very happy just to take part in this space, as I was a decade ago when starting.

Sir Frederick Denison Maurice, Founder of the Working Men's College

I'd like to diverge to draw a centuries old parallel here: One of the main points of a school founded in the middle of the nineteenth century, the Working Men's College (of London, founded by Frederick Denison Maurice, pictured above) - was to encourage education for life. In fact the college has been serving local people and employers for over 160 years.  Therefore, for the enrichment of the community with respect to professional development, certification is important since these are individuals who are seeking to obtain skills and qualifications that enhance their career prospects.

Many of those who study and obtain certification are consultants that pay out of their own companies' money for classes, since reinvesting in your resources should not be ignored; the government of Quebec here actually encourages 1% global budget for education, with respect to organisation with revenues over one million dollars. Others who take courses receive direct support from a sponsoring employer who sees that one of the best ways to improve their firm’s productivity and customer satisfaction, is by having better skilled, qualified and motivated employees. Therefore, continuing education in this way, is a win-win for both sides, and means not dropping the ball on re-investing in yourself and career.

The many reasons for certification are much the same as that of the Working Men's College (near Camden market) since they are:
-Relevant to the skills needed by local employers
-Reduces the risk to the corporation, since certification baseline, in most cases, ensures a higher quality, or standard, of service
-Easy to access, so that learning can take place at the employer’s premises or at the college’s classroom.
-Flexible, so that learning can fit around the needs and schedules of business. An individual can simply take the exams or courses when things are quiet; quite often different from semester system schedule.
-Effective in producing, in the shortest possible time, skilled and qualified staff.

The trend over the past years, with our current Political Losership, is to treat those multiple certifications, as if they are a Liability (!?), thus I write this post also to denounce this ignoble and baseless tendency. As discussed with Brent O. and Grant F. last week at SQLIntersection in Vegas, all DBAs who have survived more than 4-5 years in this industry, can easily see the repetitive failed attempts by poor management to block us from executing industry and compliance norms. Their approach is bound to fail eventually, but sometimes these false prophets, due to their political level within their respective organisation (claiming to be Chief Technology Officers), attempt to ram/keep NOLOCK hints in production all over the place, claiming it is 'our saviour.' Or in another case, a flunkie CTO+CEO within FinTech will attempt to justify the complete lack of identity and access management. I rest my case against those who question the importance of certification, or 'doing the right thing.'