It’s been ages since I last talked about Microsoft certification programs, but a recent email message from the MCDBA program reminding me of the upgrade path available to me got my creative juices flowing. I thought that if I’ve been too busy to worry about upgrading my certification to SQL Server 2005, it’s likely that many other SQL Server 2000 MCDBA professionals have also been too busy. So this week, we’ll briefly explore the new certifications for SQL Server 2005 and some of the upgrade options that exist if you’re currently a SQL Server 2000 MCDBA.

 

But first, let’s examine the value of Microsoft certification in general. I’m somewhat laissez-faire on the topic. I’ve run across “certified professionals” who I’d barely trust to swap out the power cord on a server, whereas some of the most talented IT pros I’ve met couldn’t care less about certification. So debating the relative value of Microsoft certification is something I decided to stop worrying about several years ago. But I typically recommend that you get it. I sense that certification tends to be most beneficial to novice and intermediary professionals because some companies are hesitant to hire junior or mid-level people who don’t have a certification. So an MCDBA can certainly help land a mid-level job.

 

Likewise, even though I’m sure that true SQL Server experts will never be short of work simply because they aren’t certified if you’re an expert, you shouldn’t have a hard time passing the exam. So you might as well do it. Me? I’ll upgrade. Not because I need the certification, but because I know that my colleagues who are certified will tease me if I don’t bother (which is perhaps the most compelling reason of all to become certified).

 

So once you’ve decided to take the plunge to avoid name-calling by your SQL buddies, where do you start? Microsoft offers a wider range of certifications options for SQL Server 2005 than it did for earlier releases. Instead of a single SQL Server MCDBA certification, SQL Server 2005 certifications include entry-level certifications:

 

Technology Specialist: SQL Server 2005 Technology Specialist: SQL Server 2005 Business Intelligence

 

and the slightly more advanced Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) certifications:

 

Microsoft Certified IT Professional: Database Developer Microsoft Certified IT Professional: Database Administrator Microsoft Certified IT Professional: Business Intelligence

 

Microsoft’s multiple-track approach for SQL Server 2005 certification is certainly the correct approach. The single MCDBA track for SQL Server 2000 was a bit simplistic. I’d probably become a bigger fan of the certification process if Microsoft could ever create a certification that’s a true reflection of world-class expertise instead of the mass-market certification mill that still exists today. But, I suppose Rome wasn’t built in day.

 

Not surprisingly, Microsoft offers a lot of information to help you understand the certifications that exist and prepare for them. The following site hosts a condensed, useful summary of the Technology Specialist and MCITP options:

 

http://www.microsoft.com/learning/mcp/mcitp/default.mspx

 

I also suggest a visit to the following site, which offers a summary of upgrade options that are available to you based on existing certifications that you already hold:

 

http://www.microsoft.com/learning/mcp/mcdba/upgrade/default.mspx

 

Both sites offer links to wealth of study and preparation information supporting the certification process. My favorite might be the SQL Server 2005 Learning Portal at

 

http://www.microsoft.com/learning/2005/sql/default.mspx

 

Visiting these sites will help you start down the certification road, regardless of whether you’re nobly pursuing knowledge and self-betterment or you simply want to avoid having your SQL Server expert friends tease you because you didn’t bother to get certified.