If you'd like to keep up with your profession as a SQL DBA, I thoroughly recommend certification. It has certainly given me an edge with respect to several mandates over the past seven years, and even at the least, a decent boost of confidence with respect to being able to quickly process through complex database infrastructure problems.
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. This year, with some fatigue of course, I have taken the equivalent of five certification exams (due to a retake of the MCDBA upgrade exam) and wow; there are so many things I've picked up by studying for them. It will take me months to go through and apply what I've learned while preparing for the tests. I'm the kind of DBA who keeps perhaps too many notes, as a consequence of all this studying; although now, with blogging, these notes seem to be helping make sense of all the information I wish to share by individual postings.
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 below) - was to encourage education for life. In fact the college has been serving local people and employers for over 150 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 dolars. 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.
Many reasons for certification are the same as that of the Working Men's College 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 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.
On that note, for 2009, I wish all my newly found readers a Happy New Year.
P.S. Keep up those practice tests (if you are on your way to certification), since once you're cool with the material, repetitive test preparation is your best way to feel relaxed on the big day of your exam.
P.P.S. Master SQL/SSC Blogger Steve Jones, mentions how there is no excuse for not keeping up with your profession, and certification is not the only way to do so, but an obvious way to prove to clients or potential employers that you're not dropping the ball on reinvesting in yourself.