The Value of the MCDBA and MCITP DBA Certification
At a recent Northern Virginia SQL Server user group meeting, a debate was held about the Microsoft Certified Database Administrator\Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional : Database Administrator being a 'must-have' for all SQL Server DBAs. As such, let's explore some key questions. Is it worth studying for the MCDBA\MCITP:DBA exams or not? Is this time well spent? How time consuming will the studying be to pass the tests? Is the MCDBA\MCITP:DBA just about studying for and passing tests? Will the MCDBA\MCITP:DBA help DBAs get a job or a raise?
In an earlier tip (SQL Server 2000 and 2005 Certification Resources), we outlined the steps needed to earn the premier SQL Server certification. During the debate at the recent user group meeting, what really surfaced is that the Microsoft Certified Database Administrator\Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional : Database Administrator has a different meaning for each person, at a high level, but the bottom line is that the certification is not a single indicator of a DBAs performance on the job. In reality the premier SQL Server certifications are just one of many factors to land a SQL Server DBA position, but the feedback from the user group could be categorized in the following manner:
- With the MCDBA\MCITP:DBA this is one indicator that can open the window of opportunity at particular organizations.
- At some organizations, particularly government organizations, the MCDBA\MCITP:DBA certification is a requirement for particular types or levels of positions.
- From an employers perspective, the certification is an indicator that the individual has the aptitude to study and pass a test.
- For some organizations the MCDBA\MCITP:DBA certification is considered a viable assessment for a DBAs skills. Since the tests are written and administered via a third party, they can be assured that the testing body has the base set of knowledge that the organization does not have internally to make a technical assessment.
- If the certification is used as an opportunity to learn, it can serve as time well spent learning about SQL Server.
- No single certification can measure technical, problem solving, etc. skills to serve as a definitive assessment for successfully building and managing SQL Server applications. This is especially the case if the questions and answers are just memorized, and the true opportunity to learn SQL Server is not leveraged.
- Just because someone passes the certification tests does not necessarily mean they will fit into the team and make positive contributions to the organization.
- The tests only take into consideration native Microsoft options, not third party solutions that may be a better solution.
- The MCDBA\MCITP:DBA certification is only one of many indicators that should be taken into consideration when hiring or promoting a DBA.
- Many highly skilled and qualified DBAs do not have certifications, but are more than knowledgeable and capable of building and supporting SQL Server applications in the enterprise.
The bottom line is that the MCDBA\MCITP:DBA certification means many different things to many different people. However, in our opinions, if it is used as a mechanism to learn about SQL Server to genuinely expand your knowledge then it should be considered a positive experience. When it is balanced with experience and many intangible skills, then the certification is one of many litmus tests. If you are new to SQL Server, either switching database platforms or trying to get your start in the industry, then the certification is a means to open that window of opportunity. So go for it!
From an organizational perspective, keep in mind that the MCDBA\MCITP:DBA certification does not necessarily equal success from either a team perspective or organizational contribution. This means that the certification is only one of many factors that should be included during the interview process, not a single definitive indicator to a DBAs success.
- As a DBA, figure out where you stand on this debate and think about how the MCDBA\MCITP:DBA certification can help you in your current position and in your overall career.
- As a Database, Operational or Development Manager, pull together your thoughts on the value of the MCDBA\MCITP:DBA certification then determine how it should impact your current team members when it comes time for training and raises as well as a factor for hiring your future team members.
- As an organization, the bigger picture question here is the investment in your employees from an educational, certification and continuing education perspective independent of the department. See where this priority fits into the overall organizational list.
- Check out the Professional Development tips on MSSQLTips.com.
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