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Upgrade Options for MCDBAs

According to Gerry O'Brien at Microsoft, the Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA) credential is getting long in the tooth and is slated for retirement. For you MCDBAs out there, what certification upgrade options are available?

First, a little background on the MCDBA credential. The MCDBA is the only Microsoft certification available to those who specialize in the SQL Server 2000 relational database management system (RDBMS). The problem with the MCDBA title is that it is monolithic and not necessarily reflective of your SQL Server 2000skill set.

For instance, how can an IT hiring manager know simply by observing 'MCDBA' on your résumé that you are either (a) a true-blue DBA; (b) a SQL Server application developer; and/or (c) a SQL Server 2000 business intelligence analyst?

Microsoft addressed this 'nondescript credential' issue by aligning its next generation of certifications for IT pros along two tracks:

  • Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS): You can earn this entry-level title in most Microsoft enterprise technologies, allowing you to granularly present your skill set to current and future employers
  • Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP): This is the top-tier title; again it is targeted to a particular Microsoft technology

Now for the 'meat and potatoes' for those interested in upgrading their MCDBA credential to the MCITP: SQL Server 2005 Database Administrator. In a nutshell, you must pass the following two exams to complete your transition:

  • Exam 70-431: TS: Microsoft SQL Server 2005 – Implementation and Maintenance
  • Exam 70-447: UPGRADE: MCDBA Skills to MCITP Database Administrator by Using Microsoft SQL Server 2005

Be aware that these exams involve simulation items and case study items in addition to traditional multiple-choice questions. I will address how to tackle each Microsoft item type in future blog posts.

I also want to tell you about the other two MCITP tracks Microsoft offers for SQL Server 2005.

The first is the MCITP: Database Developer certification. To earn this title you must pass the following two exams IN ADDITION TO the 70-431 test:

  • Exam 70-441: PRO: Designing Database Solutions by Using Microsoft SQL Server 2005
  • Exam 70-442: PRO: Designing and Optimizing Data Access by Using Microsoft SQL Server 2005

The second is the MCITP: Business Intelligence Developer certification. Earning this credential mandates that you successfully complete the following two exams (note that exam 70-431 is not a prerequisite to this title):

  • Exam 70-445: TS: Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Business Intelligence – Implementation and Maintenance
  • Exam 70-446: PRO: Designing a Business Intelligence Infrastructure by Using Microsoft SQL Server 2005

Finally, you might be wondering: what about SQL Server 2008, the next generation of SQL Server? Should you consider leapfrogging over the SQL Server 2005 certifications and instead focus on the very latest and (potentially) the very greatest?

No so fast, friend. Number one, neither SQL Server 2008 itself, nor its corresponding MCTS and MCITP exams, is fully available to the public yet (let Gerry O'Brien tell you more about this).

Number two, in my experience most enterprises today run a mixed-version database environment with Microsoft SQL Server 2000 and SQL Server 2005. In my opinion, you will get far more job-related 'bang for your buck' by focusing your energies on earning one ore more MCITP titles in SQL Server 2005.

You then will be eligible for an upgrade path the SQL Server 2008 when those credentials are released.

Good luck and best of life to you!

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