To become a SQL Server Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) is no small task. Fewer than 1 percent of certified professionals hold a Master certification, and for good reason: In addition to having difficult minimum competencies (5 years SQL Server experience and deep knowledge in all aspects of SQL Server), training for a SQL Server MCM has always come at a significant cost. In fact, that cost has been about $18,500, when you add up the required three week training and four exams.

Well, at PASS this week, Microsoft announced all of that is changing. According to the company, the changes are in response to requests from experienced SQL Server professionals who want to earn MCM's but (go figure) don't have $18,500 lying around.

Fortunately, Microsoft has made some significant changes to the program, including:

  • The 3-week in-person training is no longer required. So, if you feel like you have what it takes, you can march right up and take the certification exams. You only pay the cost of the exams, which is about $2,500.
  • There are now only two exams instead of four—88-970 (Knowledge Exam) and 88-971 (Lab Exam).
  • To help SQL Server professionals prepare for the exams at a lower cost, Microsoft now offers some free MCM videos

Are these changes enough to make you consider a SQL Server MCM? Chime in on the comments below or ping me on Twitter

To read the full story and check out a video on the subject, visit the Microsoft News Center.

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