Certification Rumors and Tips

  • Comments posted here are about the content posted at http://www.sqlservercentral.com/columnists/btarvin/3052.asp

    Brandie Tarvin, MCITP Database AdministratorLiveJournal Blog: http://brandietarvin.livejournal.com/[/url]On LinkedIn!, Google+, and Twitter.Freelance Writer: ShadowrunLatchkeys: Nevermore, Latchkeys: The Bootleg War, and Latchkeys: Roscoes in the Night are now available on Nook and Kindle.

  • Hi Brandie,

    Nice article and thanks a lot to clarify the rumors.

    I have a question. I am MCP. Cleared one exam(70-228) from MCDBA sylabus. Can I upgrade to MCITP? I mean will I get any benefit of my old certification in terms of number of exam I will have to appear in new module of sql 2005 exams?



  • Sachin,

    If you had finished the MCDBA course you would be eligible for one upgrade exam. But as it is, you will probably have to sit for all the exams in the MCITP: Database administrator.


    and just to second what has been said in the article, practise, practise and more practise please. And also to mention that the exam fees varies depending on the region you will be sitting the exam. e.g. in UK its £89 (i think), in Africa its £56, but the good news is its still the same exam

    Everything you can imagine is real.

  • My big exam tip is to just try it. The exams are designed to test what you know as part of your job, not what you can learn in books. If you go in there to find out where your weak areas are, you might surprise yourself and pass without study! In fact, the best (IMO) SQL exam there is is 70-431 (I should know, I wrote many of the simulation questions). These questions are hard to study for, brain dumps are far less useful for them, and they really seem to test whether or not you use the product.

    Since I blogged about my experience in writing the simulation questions, I have been pestered by cheats. They use brain dumps and still fail. My kind of exam. People who use the product say that it's too easy. Again... my kind of exam.

    There's a big discussion going on at Howard Dierking's blog about the source of community questions. I've blogged about it too, so you should be able to find the discussion and jump in.

    Rob Farley
    LobsterPot Solutions & Adelaide SQL Server User Group
    Company: http://www.lobsterpot.com.au
    Blog: http://blogs.lobsterpot.com.au

  • the Exam insurance is no longer availiable as of the end of June. Im told there will be similar programs availiable by september, but at present , you only have one chance at the exam ( In Ireland anyway).

  • I agree that you don't have to buy a book, but I think its absolutely worth buying at least one book per exam. Most of the people I've seen that fail badly do so because they look at the exam title and prepare based on that, rather than looking at the requirements that MS has assigned to the exam. The book goes one level deeper by trying to teach you only what you need to know to meet those objectives. $40 for a book is not a huge investment, and you can probably make back $10 selling it used. The books usually contain sample questions which while probably not as good as the Transcender ones, arent bad either.

  • True... books can be good. But I see lots of people stress out totally about doing exams. They should just try them and see how they go. Most people who know their stuff will pass. If not, they'll get a really good feel for what they can study next.

    And yes, it's worth trying to take advantage of insurance or retake offers.

    Rob Farley
    LobsterPot Solutions & Adelaide SQL Server User Group
    Company: http://www.lobsterpot.com.au
    Blog: http://blogs.lobsterpot.com.au

  • I have to agree...back in 99 when I got my MCSE I didn't buy any books or anything.  The way I looked at it, I'd been doing the job for a LONG time and if I didn't know enough to pass, then there was a major problem.  Went in and passed all but one of the exams with 940+.  The one that I failed was the IIS exam (didn't do a lot with extending IIS so I missed a few there).  I boned up on the parts I was weak on and went back 2 weeks later and passed with flying colors.

  • Great article. I agree that some books can be a valuable reference, long after the exam. I bought the original SQL Server 7.0 Exam Cram (70-029) and it's still on my desk, I have yet to find a more concise reference for the basics.

    OTOH the newer Exam Cram books (now pub. by Que) don't go deep enough - the one for MCTS (70-431) is very superficial and doesn't cover all the exam objectives. Instead, I'm trying to get through the Sybex MCTS book which covers the basics, plus all the new 2005 features which are certain to be on the exam. I just hope I get around to sitting for the exam before Katmai 🙂

    In my experience, MS certification exams are written to be difficult and tricky, making the cert worth more IMHO. I've passed the MCSD series for VB6, and the .NET solution architectures (70-300) but with each exam they became more difficult as MS tries to separate the brain-dump-memorizers from those who really know their stuff. As others have said, there is no substitute for hands-on experience.

  • Sometimes I wonder what is the purpose of getting the cert.  There are companies out there would not hire a DBA without microsoft cert. Do they think those people are smarter than the one without a cert or a cert a kind of an insurance to the company that the person definitely knows SQL Server?

    In my previous job, all the field engineers required to pass the MCSE exam.  They just read the book and all of them passed because they needed to keep their job.  The most ironic thing was 9 out of 10 did not even know how to spell 'COMPUTER'.(a joke)  Even the supervisors knew the exam did not help and even the supervisors joked about how useless the exam was  but it was company's policy and you could not argue.

  • Having a certification, if nothing else, shows a willingness to:

    a) Either learn the material on the job or study to learn the material.

    b) Be measured by a "standard," regardless of how you feel about the standard.

    When I have participated in interviewing personnel, I always keep those two things in mind. You're right that having a cert isn't a guarantee that a candidate really knows his/her stuff. That's what a tech interview should reveal. But there is some credit in my book if the candidate has at least gotten some level of certification.

    Loner, I get what you're saying, because as far as Microsoft is concerned, I have an MCP, MCSE but those were from the SQL Server 7.0 and Windows NT 4.0 days. I don't have an MCDBA, focusing in recent years on security related certs (Security+, GSEC, and hopefully soon, CISA). However, I would hope that my lack of an MCDBA would not disqualify me from a position. With that said, if it does, I do have the capability to do something about it: go complete it.

    K. Brian Kelley

  • One of the resources I like to follow to see what recruiters (at least the ones at Microsoft) are thinking about with respect to candidates:

    Technical Careers @ Microsoft blog

    K. Brian Kelley

  • I got my cert for two reasons: to prove to myself that I really did know the stuff, and to validate my credentials to prospective customers.

    It's really the same thing as having a BS, MS, or PhD - you might not necessarily be any smarter, but it does show that you have the motivation to attempt & complete a particular course of study.

    Slightly off-topic, when I was at Illinois Institute of Technology in the 70's the bookstore sold a bumper sticker: "Sicks munce ago I couldnt even spel 'engineer' and now I are one" it was quite popular 🙂


  • I got my cert because I worked on 3 of the books (441, 443, 444).

    To me the cert does prove you have some knowledge IF you have experience as well. It shows you spent time to prove your knowledge and likely learned a few things in preparation. It's kind of like a college degree in that it proves you can learn, you can take a test under some pressure, and you are willing to work on your career.

    I think you need a book for the 731 exam. If for nothing else than to focus you on a number of tasks and give you exercises to work through. DEFINITELY spend time in SSMS working through tasks, even simple ones like adding or deleting a login. The exam (731) will require some of those skills with a subset of SSMS.

    The others are more "read and decipher the requirements v questions". I didn't think any of the others were that difficult.

  • I totally agree with Brian.  Certifications are no guarantee of a quality employee.  However, in my opinion, a person who took the time to get a certification has gone on and beyond the call of duty. 


    Earning certifications gives me a goal to shoot for and forces me to learn new features and other ways of working with the product.   I spend months studying and performing practices, so that I have a good working knowledge before I go into the test.  I am currently working towards my MCITP.

    Also, I have found that certifications open doors to promotions, new technology fields, bonuses, and other rewards.  Additionally, at your annual review it is a notable accomplishment to point out.  Even if your current employer doesn’t reward you for a certification, I have always found that earning them always pays off somewhere down the line.


    Bill Richards, MCSE, MCDBA

    Senior Database Analyst

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