In "SQL Server Education and Training," I touched on the importance of continued education and training. I pointed out that continued education and training is beneficial for both employers and employees. For employers, training enables your employees to stay up to date with the current technologies, which helps align the implementation of the best technologies with your organization's businesses goals. For employees, continued training ensures that your skill set is current and that you have can keep up with the latest developments and industry trends.

More SQL Server Education and Training Options

A couple of attentive readers pointed out that I missed a few notable education and training options. One of the best training resources that I neglected to mention is classes and seminars by Kalen Delaney. Delaney is a long-time SQL Server Pro contributing editor and author of several editions of Microsoft's SQL Server Internals. Delaney teaches advanced and in-depth private and public SQL Server courses.

Another training opportunity that's a bit different, but certainly interesting, is the SQL Cruise courses, advertised as "training with a twist." Like the name implies, SQL Cruise is training that takes place on a cruise ship. SQL Cruise offers two one-week cruises per year—one from Miami and the other from Seattle.

SQL Server Community Opportunities

One key component in continued education and training is becoming part of the broad SQL Server community. Professional community events give you a chance to network with your peers while also gaining in-depth training from industry experts. The biggest community builder in the SQL Server market might be the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) organization. PASS is best known for the yearly SQL Server conference, PASS Summit. The PASS Summit is a four-day event with over 190 technical sessions that cover just about all aspects of SQL Server. Last year's PASS Summit in Seattle had over 5,600 total registrations. This year's PASS Summit will be held in Charlotte, N.C., during October. PASS has also kicked off a new Business Analytics (BA) Conference. The inaugural PASS BA Conference was held in early April in Chicago and drew 900 attendees.

The PASS organization does more than host yearly conferences. PASS has over 127,000 members attending numerous PASS events including SQLSaturday, 24 Hours of PASS, and SQLRally. PASS also hosts more than 250 local and virtual chapters.

SQLSaturday is a free, one-day training event held on Saturdays in various cities around the globe. 24 Hours of PASS is a daylong, online event where 12 one-hour sessions are presented and then replayed. SQLRally is a two-day regional event that fills in the gap between SQLSaturday and the PASS Summit. There are currently no SQLRally events planned for the United States in 2013.

The other major SQL Server community organizations are SQL Server Worldwide User Group (SSWUG) and SQLServerCentral.com. SSWUG is a virtual user group. The SSWUG online site has a paid membership and it provides a wide array of online content including articles, classes, webcasts, and SSWUGtv. Notably, the SSWUG site covers Oracle and DB2, in addition to SQL Server. The SQLServerCentral.com site has a free membership and it also features lots of technical articles, videos, and forums for discussing technical issues with other SQL Server professionals. Microsoft also provides SQL Server forums for community support. And of course, here at SQL Server Pro, we're continuing to offer the highest quality SQL Server content and our own IT/Dev Connections conference is scheduled for this fall. 

Education, training, and community involvement all work together to facilitate your professional development. Hopefully, my last couple of articles will help guide you to some of the different SQL Server training and community options available.