In a blog post on www.windowsitpro.com titled "What Certification Training is Right for You?", I outlined the three avenues of achieving certification: in-person training (courses and boot camps), hosted solutions (virtual professor), and self study. I suppose you could add "winging it" as number four.

In a tough economy comes the dichotomous dilemma: we want and need more training to stay relevant and competitive, but your organization doesn't want to pay for it and you can't afford it! Keeping a pulse on the industry and reading industry publications are good ways to keep informed for little or no money, but it's also nice to get training where there's visible proof on a resume. That is one of the compelling reasons for certification.

For most database administrators, the most important area for certification is SQL Server 2008. Syngress is offering two prep kits on SQL Server 2008: one on Database Implementation and Maintenance (Exam 70-432) and one on Database Design (Exam 70-433). Both prep kits are $59.95 and includes lecture, a test engine, podcasts, and PowerPoint for exam-day review.

Both of the exams mentioned are MCTS (Microsoft Certified Technical Specialist) exams, which are the first level exams in Microsoft's new certification hierarchy. If you've been certified under a previous version of SQL Server under the old hierarchy, you may not need to pass these exams in order to take the second level, MCITP (Microsoft Certified IT Professional) exams. The whole thing is confusing to say the least, so you'll probably want to contact the Microsoft certification experts to find out about what is required given your specific situation. (Note: many thanks to a reader for setting me straight on this one.)

If you're interested in checking out the Syngress SQL Server 2008 prep kits, visit www.elsevierdirect.com. The kits you are looking for are The Real MCTS SQL Server 2008 Exam 70-432 Prep Kit by Mark Horninger and The Real MCTS SQL Server 2008 Exam 70-433 Prep Kit: Database Design, also by Mark Horninger. Or, go here to find out more about Microsoft's new certification hierarchy.

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