Certification...Yes or No?

  • I know there has been a lot of debate on this topic, but I'd like to get some of your opinions on SQL Server certifications, and whether or not you think it's worth my time for pursue them. Let me give you a little bit of background about myself:

    I started off as a Junior DBA 3 years ago, fresh out of college. I was taught the ropes by 2 Senior DBAs who really knew their stuff. About a year ago, a personal sitaution arose and I have relocated and took a new job as the primary DBA for an organization. Although I only have 3 years expierence and am considered 'young' for a DBA I suppose, I consider myself pretty knowledgeable in the world of SQL Server. However I know how vast of a world SQL Server is and I'm constantly trying to learn more. I read books on my spare time (just started SQL Server 2008 Internals by Kalen Delaney - great book!), but I have been considering pursuing the MCTS and MCITP in SQL Server 2008. Personally, I view certifications as something that will expose me to other things I may not necessairly come across at my job and consider it another opportunity to learn. My organization isn't one that makes you get a certification or necessarily cares if you have one, but they will pay for me to take the exam, upon passing. However, I know that certifcations can sometimes carry a stigma with them in the IT world

    Considering my age and expierence, do you think a certification would enhance my resume? I tend to think it can't hurt, but would like opinions from anyone out there who has the time and would like to respond.

    Thanks in advance,

    Adam

  • As you said, there's lots of debate on whether or not a certificate is "worth" anything. But if you're confident you can pass and your company is paying.... "it couldn't hurt". I say go for it!

    I'm one of those that will determine if someone is qualified for a position based on what they actually know, not what their resume claims they know.

    p.s. don't ask for brain dumps... it's a big no-no and people will yell at you!

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  • Yes the courses should give you insight into things that you do not work with on a daily basis, however if you do not continue to use these new skills and further them, you will lose them.

    If your company is paying, I would say go for it 😉

  • Right, I would never ask for a brain dump. To me the benefit of getting a certification would be the preparation that goes into it and learning that comes along with it. Appreciate the responses!

  • When there is an exam, we need to dig through little more to cover them. Obviously that will improve your skills as you know things are much deeply. Go for it :), It is worth.

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  • I'm studying right now for the 70-432 exam and I've learned tons, especially about encryption and high availability. Those aren't features that we currently use at work, but if the question ever comes up, I now have some answers. There are also some things that I was woefully out of date on. On the downside, I've also found that there is a lot of memorization that is just for the test, because I really don't see the point in memorizing the parameter values for sp_add_operator. IRL, I'd use BOL or the GUI interface to set up which days someone is on call. This is info that will go into my brain and right out after the exam.

    However, I do see a value in having a certification. It makes a difference to recruiters, HR types and hiring managers. If I end up having to look for a new job, I'd like to have every advantage on my side. We may all agree that companies that only hire based on certificates are not good companies to work for - but in reality we sometimes have to take jobs that aren't the best - my family likes to live indoors and eat food!

    MWise

  • As a rule, I give no weight, positive or negative, to certifications when I look at a resume.

  • I think that it is good if somebody finishes something they start. Thus if you start college and you get a degree - good. If you start down the certification path and complete the certification - then good. Beyond that, it depends on the situation.

    Jason...AKA CirqueDeSQLeil
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  • I am frankly just a but nervous of certifications when I see them on a resume. Sorry, but there it is.

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  • I would say go for it, at worst it will cost a couple 100 ££ and a bit of time.. at best it will help you learn things you never knew existed.

  • Grant

    I am frankly just a but nervous of certifications when I see them on a resume

    Especially if I don't see real experience with it.

    I have had both work for me in the past. I have even found truth to the saying those that can't, teach. Other than the personal satisfaction of completing and receiving the paper with the knowledge gained, without the experience it is a piece of paper. I don't think it makes that big a deal in job hiring.

    Just my opinion.

    Steve Jimmo
    Sr DBA
    “If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a Nation gone under." - Ronald Reagan

  • Thanks to everyone for all the input. I'm looking for a way to enhance my resume and to prove that I spend time outside of work learning about SQL Server and since I'm not going to put down a list of books that I've read on my resume, I thought maybe having a certification under 'additional accomplishments' might be worth pursuring. I would never have it be the focal point of a resume, that should obviously be all about your on the job expierence. I just didn't want to make of mistake of turning people away from my resume because they just assume that I'm 'one of those certification guys'.

  • I'm wary of them. My experience of hiring DBAs & Database Developers is that it's simply not any kind of yardstick for ability/suitability. I've had brilliant candidates with no certifications and abysmal ones with all of them (they literally have no ability in the subject matter that's covered in the exams).

    My thoughts are that it may help if you're applying for jobs and the hiring manager doesn't have any SQL knowledge, so is literally relying on experience and qualifications written in the CV (resume to you!), but if it's a DBA/Architect that's doing the hiring they'd give a practical/written exam of their own rather than trust in certifications.

    There are too many of them where it's possible to be coached/memorise the answers that it dilutes the trust in the people who really learn the subject matter.

    I certainly would never exclude a candidate purely for having no certifications or hire one based on them having them.

  • If you don't have experience and you have a cert, it makes me think that you are motivated to get a job, but won't necessarily have any talent. If you have some experience, I'll ask questions to see what you know.

    I am suspicious of people looking to get a certification to short cut experience, but I also know lots of people that work hard to improve themselves and they are using the cert to advance. I will say that my take on the exams is that they don't prove a lot, and if you use Transcender exams or other quiz items and brain dumps to pass the exam, you are wasting your time, devaluing the ceritifcation, and to a large extent, annoying people.

    If you study, if you work through a book or guides on the Internet, ultimately you'll learn a lot. A lot more than the exam will test you on and while you might not have skills in many of those areas, you will have likely absorbed lots of information and improved your knowledge. I vote trying, but studying hard for the exam.

  • I agree totally with Howard, except that if I have a candidate who has proven experience and one with a certification and can't prove their experience I would take the one with the experience. I don't necessarily give a written test, but a verbal one where I can see how comfortable they are when answering. Guaranteed, the questions aren't necessarily on the test. This also gives me opportunities to explore where something in stone doesn't.

    Harder for them to be able to rely on their book learning that way.

    As for having the experience and doing everything and going for the cert - go for it. It can't hurt.

    Steve Jimmo
    Sr DBA
    “If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a Nation gone under." - Ronald Reagan

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