How To Get Your SQL Certification

By FredrickHobbs

What SQL Server Certifications Are Available

There are quite a few SQL Server certifications available. They are all offered by Microsoft, as they are the ones that produce it.

The certifications are available at several different levels. The lowest level is the MCTS level, which is the starting position for SQL certification and is actually a prerequisite for many of the other certifications. There are three MCTS certifications available:

  • MCTS: Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Business Intelligence Development and Maintenance
  • MCTS: Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Implementation and Maintenance
  • MCTS: Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Database Development

These three certifications each have different areas of focus. There are also several equivalent MCITP certifications:

  • MCITP: Business Intelligence Develop 2008
  • MCITP: Database Administrator 2008
  • MCITP: Database Developer 2008

Two more advance certifications are available – the MCM SQL Server 2010 and the MCA Microsoft SQL Server.

What Is The SQL Server Certification Path?

So, we’ve gone through what different certifications are available for SQL. The next question is, what is the certification path? Which ones should and can be done in what order?

Well, the first place to start is at the MCTS level (Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist). This forms the foundation of the knowledge that you need and is actually a prerequisite to the other certifications. The three MCTS certifications each have a different focus area, as mentioned above, and the one that appeals to you would depend on your interest or job description – administration, business intelligence or development.

Each of these MCTS certifications has an equivalent MCITP certification. This means that once you’ve obtained the MCTS certification, there is one MCITP certification that you’re able to take. It may be a good idea to obtain more than one MCTS if you wanted to have a broader understanding of SQL Server.

The next level of SQL certification is the MCM – Microsoft Certified Master. This is an advanced level of certification, and requires both the Database Administration and Database Developer MCITP certifications to be obtained. After obtaining the MCM, the final step is the Microsoft Certified Architect – the MCA.

Of course, it’s not expected that everyone should obtain the MCA or even the MCM. It may be enough for you or your job role to get an MCITP or even an MCTS.

How To Get Your SQL Server Certification

We’ve outlined what certifications are available, now we need to determine how we’re going to get it. The first step is to decide which path you want to take.

If business intelligence is appealing to you, then look into the MCTS Business Intelligence Development and Maintenance certification. Business intelligence is the ability to extract data from source systems, transform it into a relevant format and structure, load it into a final system, and perform analysis and reporting on this data. It is very useful for companies that capture data about customers or transactions, as they can determine trends from it.

If you’re into database administration and maintenance, supporting a server and performing installations and upgrades on it, then you might want to look at the MCTS for Implementation and Maintenance. Alternatively, if you are interested in database development, programming and implementing code and software with databases then you might want to look at the MCTS for Database Development.

A great way to study for the certification exam is to obtain a copy of SQL Server Express. This is available for download from the Microsoft website, and is actually a smaller version which you can install on your own computer for your own purposes. It’s good for practicing and learning and experimenting with different features and functions of the database.

Once you’ve decided on your certification, and you’ve got a copy of Server Express, then you’re ready to study for the exam:

  • Start looking into the focus areas for the exams for the certification.
  • Get familiar with each of the areas by reading textbooks, looking for related websites, reading the Microsoft online documentation.
  • Practice the theory by trying it out on SQL Server Express

Passing a certification exam is no easy task. However, with enough study and dedication you should be giving yourself the best possible chance to pass the exam and get an SQL Server certification!

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