Do You Want to be a Microsoft Certified SQL Server DBA Expert

By:   |   Comments (17)   |   Related: 1 | 2 | More > Professional Development Certifications


Do you want to distinguish yourself at classic DBA duties with SQL Server 2008? Consider passing the 70-432 exam. The Microsoft Learning site recommends the exam for those performing SQL Server DBA tasks, such as installing, configuring, and maintaining SQL Server instances as well as managing databases on those instances. Upon passing the exam, you will be awarded a Microsoft Certified Technical Specialist certification for Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Implementation and Maintenance.


There are two steps to becoming a certified SQL Server DBA expert. First, get a good grasp of the right content - namely, that covered in the 70-432 exam. Second, access the proper resources to take the test. As much as possible, get a good understanding of the types of questions you will be asked.

Overview of Topics Covered in the Exam

The exam assesses skills in eight areas:

  • Installing and configuring SQL Server 2008
  • Maintaining SQL Server instances
  • Managing SQL Server security
  • Maintaining a SQL Server database
  • Performing data management tasks
  • Monitoring and troubleshooting SQL Server
  • Optimizing SQL Server performance
  • Implementing high availability

The exam emphasizes SQL Server administration features introduced with SQL Server 2008 as well as features that are different or enhanced from earlier versions. You'll also need to know the solutions to typical issues for upgrading from SQL Server 2005, 2000 or 7 to SQL Server 2008. You will benefit from a firm understanding of how to upgrade a base SQL Server 2008 installation (the database engine and client components) with other specialized components (Analysis Services and/or Integration Services).

Hands-on experience using the DBA feature set in SQL Server 2008 is critical to passing the exam. If you are primarily a SQL Server database developer, this is especially true. For example, you need to know how to use SQL Server Agent, SQL Profiler, and Database Engine Tuning Advisor. In addition, you'll want to make sure that you understand how System Monitor, formerly called Performance Monitor, complements built-in SQL Server tools for diagnosing performance issues.

Before taking the exam, arm yourself with an in-depth grasp of how to implement database backups and restores in a variety of different contexts. Know what's special about each of the recovery models and when to use each one. Understand the complementary roles of full, filegroup, and file backups as well as the contrasting roles of differential and log backups. Learn about backups and restores not only from the perspective of recovering from hardware failures but also from the perspectives of configuring servers supporting high availability options and migrating a database from an older SQL Server version to SQL Server 2008. Don't forget to master database snapshots as another technique for recovering from data failures.

Resources to Help Pass the Exam

The exam is mostly a series of multiple choice questions. Another question type allows you to pick and order the steps in a process, such as how to do a database restore or apply a patch to servers participating in a mirroring session. The exam questions probe you about conceptual issues, T-SQL syntax /semantics, and other topics viewed as critical by the test designers.

You need a voucher to take the exam. PROMETRIC is the provider of vouchers for Microsoft technical specialist exams. I recommend you buy a voucher with a retake option. While there are plenty of learning aids to help you ready yourself for the exam, one of the best preparations is to actually take the exam.

Microsoft Press sells a SQL Server 2008 Implementation and Maintenance Training Kit. The kit includes a book of 500+ pages and a CD with sample test questions and other resources. The test questions are administered by a version of the MeasureUp testing software. However, the actual questions were not provided by MeasureUp - just the testing software. On my first exam attempt, I focused extensively on the book and questions provided in the training kit - after all, they were from Microsoft. I also supplemented this preparation with hands-on use of SQL Server 2008 and reviews of supplementary material from the MSDN web site and the TechNet web site.

I needed to retake the exam after my first attempt. If you fail to pass initially, Microsoft gets back to you with encouragement and recommendations for retaking the exam. As I was preparing to retake the exam, I obtained sample questions directly from MeasureUp. This gave me two sets of test questions to review for the exam (the one from Microsoft Press and the other from MeasureUp).

Getting all or nearly all questions correct for either or both sets of prep questions does not assure a passing exam score. In my opinion, the actual exam questions were more than infrequently very different from either the MeasureUp or Microsoft Press questions. However, the actual test questions did come from the eight areas denoted at the beginning of the Overview of Topics Covered in the Exam section. As a consequence, my SQL Server 2008 hands-on experience along with careful study of selected content from the MSDN and TechNet web sites proved invaluable in helping me to pass the exam.

Everyone is likely to have a different background as they prepare for the exam. I authored several books on database development with SQL Server versions 7, 2000, and 2005. However, because of an opportunity in Canada with unusual requirements, I stopped working with SQL Server from April 2007 through September 2010. Also, I never passed any prior SQL Server certification exams although I did pass prior Microsoft certification exams for VB.NET and Microsoft Access. If you regularly administer SQL Server 2008 and you previously passed a certification exam for an earlier version of SQL Server, you will likely have an easier time preparing for the exam than I did. On the other hand, if you are new at SQL Server, more of a developer than an administrator, or you have not previously passed any Microsoft certification exams, you might reasonably anticipate the need for extensive preparation supplemented by lots of focussed hands-on practice for the exam topics.

After finally passing the exam, you get authorized to access the Microsoft's MCP site. From that location, you can download your certificate. Here's what it looks like.

a Microsoft Certified Technical Specialist certification for Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Implementation and Maintenance.

Next Steps

sql server categories

sql server webinars

subscribe to mssqltips

sql server tutorials

sql server white papers

next tip

About the author
MSSQLTips author Rick Dobson Rick Dobson is an author and an individual trader. He is also a SQL Server professional with decades of T-SQL experience that includes authoring books, running a national seminar practice, working for businesses on finance and healthcare development projects, and serving as a regular contributor to He has been growing his Python skills for more than the past half decade -- especially for data visualization and ETL tasks with JSON and CSV files. His most recent professional passions include financial time series data and analyses, AI models, and statistics. He believes the proper application of these skills can help traders and investors to make more profitable decisions.

This author pledges the content of this article is based on professional experience and not AI generated.

View all my tips

Comments For This Article

Sunday, July 19, 2015 - 2:45:21 PM - Jim C Back To Top (38250)

I am preparing for the certificate . and i love microsoft virtualacademy and resources on it but i also am taking classes and courses on , Rick is the lead instructor and his teaching style is great.

Where can i download more Exams and tests for multiple choice .

This is a great article.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012 - 10:59:52 AM - Tony Back To Top (19147)

I used this page for deciding on the SQL Server 2012 exams



Monday, June 11, 2012 - 9:29:53 AM - Rick Dobson Back To Top (17927)

Hi Rama,

If you are going to be certified as a SQL Server DBA, then you will need to pass one or more Microsoft exams.  When I wrote the article you commented about, SQL Server 2012 was not available for certification.  However, it is now.

Here's a URL that you may find useful in deciding which certification exam that is right for you:

I hope you and other readers find this reply helpful.


Rick Dobson

Monday, June 11, 2012 - 7:58:05 AM - Rama Krishna Back To Top (17924)

Hi Rick,

Nice Information regarding Microsoft Certification.  I am working as DBA.  So far i did't attempt any certification exam.  Which is the best for me? Pls advice.


Thank you & rgds

Rama krishna


Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 10:25:14 AM - Rick Dobson Back To Top (16641)

Congratulations on passing the exam.

Try this link for getting a hard copy:

I hope this provides you the assistance that you seek.



Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 1:40:34 AM - mayur Back To Top (16626)


I am already certified. I have passed the 70-432 exam. Just i want to know that how can i get hard copy of my certificate.

Please help me.

Friday, December 30, 2011 - 9:26:18 AM - Jason Yousef Back To Top (15478)

Thanks, I found this article so helpful...Thanks again Rick.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 - 8:03:32 AM - Rick Dobson Back To Top (12713)


I used the Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Implementation and Maintenance Training Kit, and I passed the exam.  I am pretty sure that my passing grade was not based exclusively on the kit.  On the other hand, I did not discover another source, including others that I am currently using for the 70-433 exam, that was bound to make me pass the exam just by using the product -- book and/or sample exam questions.

I think that you definitely need some kind of aid to study for the exam, and the Microsoft training kit is at least from Microsoft -- the folks who make the exam questions.

I hope this helps.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011 - 6:20:58 AM - Andreas Back To Top (12711)

Hi Rick

Would you still recommend buying the Microsoft recommended text?

Kind regards



Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - 12:17:05 PM - Rick Dobson Back To Top (12703)

When I took the 70-432 exam, there were 45 questions.

There are a wide variety of firms that you can uncover with an Internet search which offer simulation questions.  Some firms even offer a small sample of free questions.  When I prepared for the 70-432 exam, I used sample questions from MeasureUp as well as sample questions available with the MIcrosoft SQL Server 2008 Implementation and Maintenance Training Kit.

As I said in the article, I do not believe just studying a specific set of simulation questions will get you a passing exam grade.  However, the simulation questions are useful because they point to general and even some specific topics that are highly likely to be covered on the exam.  In my opinion, the best way to get a passing grade is to master the content for general topics so that you can answer questions whether or not they appear in any specific set of simulation questions.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - 11:10:11 AM - Praveen Back To Top (12701)

I completed 70-431 a year ago.

I am inspired to take the 70-432 exam for SQL Server 2008 after reading your article.

What are the total number of questions for the exam, Are there simulation questions?




Monday, January 24, 2011 - 11:40:42 PM - Rick Dobson Back To Top (12694)

Below are my (Rick Dobson's) replies to comments raised on January 24, 2011 to my article titled "Do You Want to be a Certified SQL Server DBA Expert?"

  • I was aware of Transcender as a source for questions.  I used Transcender to assist in preparing for at least one other prior exam that I took for another Microsoft certification.  However, Microsoft did not offer referrals to Transcender as a quality source for sample questions in the 70-432 exam.  Instead, Microsoft recommended MeasureUp, which is why I used MeasureUP rather than Transcender.  In my experience, learning the general content motivating the questions is dramatically more important than memorizing answers to any specific set of questions.  By the way, I am using another source than either MeasureUp or Transcender to prepare for my next exam on SQL Server 2008 database development.
  • One person asked how much time to allow for studying for the test.  I do not think there is a good answer to this question.  The article includes a paragraph on a related point.  The amount of prep time that is required depends on the experience level of the exam taker to SQL DBA tools and previous exam taking experience.  In general, you will be able to prepare the least if you passed the previous version of the exam and you are currently using SQL Server 2008 as a DBA (not just a developer).  If you did not pass the previous version of the exam and you do not have a lot of prior hands-on experience with typical SQL DBA chores and tools, you may have to allow several months of prep time.
  • I do not have any advice about taking 70-431, the 70-432 exam for SQL Server 2005.  However, I can say from the preparation that I am doing for 70-433 that each exam is likely to have its own special topics that require your understanding.  I am coming to the opinion that there is no shortcut to passing the SQL Server 2008 certification exams.  Read as much content as possible so that you internalize the material and then get as much hands-on experience as possible.  Just using SQL Server 2008 for a select subset of DBA tasks or knowing the content from a prior version is not sufficient to pass the exam.  This is partially because the exams heavily emphasize what's new for a broad range of issues with the most recent SQL Server version.
  • I believe the MCDBA certification is retired for SQL Server 2008.  My understanding is that there are four tiers of SQL Server 2008 certifications; I refer you to a document titled "SQLServer2008CertificationPath.pdf" at the Microsoft Learning site as the basis of my belief.  From lowest to highest, the certificaiton names are:
    • Microsoft Certified Technical Specialist
    • Microsoft Certified IT Professional
    • Microsoft Certified Architect
    • Microsoft Certified Master
  • On the certification issue, passing exam 70-432 does grant you a Microsoft Certified Technical Specialist certificate, but this is only one of three certificates necessary to earn the Microsoft Certified Technical Specialist certification for SQL Server 2008 referred to in the preceding bullet.

I hope this reply helps address the questions raised on January 24, 2011.

Monday, January 24, 2011 - 5:23:08 PM - lskdfjl kdjflkj Back To Top (12692)

Is the MCDBA a goner?

Shows how up to date I've been staying.

Monday, January 24, 2011 - 9:59:53 AM - JM Back To Top (12690)

Correction - I'm thinking to take 70-431 because SQL 2005 is what I use in the office, any advice? Thanks!

Monday, January 24, 2011 - 9:57:51 AM - JM Back To Top (12689)

I thinking to take 70-431 because this is what in the office, any advice? Thanks!

Monday, January 24, 2011 - 9:23:27 AM - Thayal Back To Top (12688)

The timing was perfect as you have published this article.  Need to revise the Microsoft book, because some of the questions are tricky for a DBA doing certain types of task day-in day-out.


Thank you for your suggestion of getting a voucher. I thought the second attempt is free.  

What is reasonable time for preparing this exam ?


Many Thanks


Monday, January 24, 2011 - 9:06:12 AM - Scott Davis Back To Top (12685)

Another great place for practice test software is Transcender. They have tests, flash cards, and study guides for Microsoft certifications as well as many others. The software gives you a good feel for the time/pressure environment by providing the same types of questions at the same difficulty levels,

get free sql tips
agree to terms