Rare Species, Extinction and the MCM

Comments: 8 Comments
Published on: September 2, 2013

MCM_SQLPandaAs of 11:04 PM MST ( -6 UTC ), the Microsoft Certified Master along with the other certifications in the Advanced certification series at Microsoft joined the ranks of the Panda on the Rare and Endangered Species list.

The email is readily available on the web, and can be read here. I am not going to dive too deeply into the email other than to reiterate a comment that I made here about it.

“The communication on the extinction of the program really spewed a lack of respect and communication for the ‘vanguard.'”

I am not happy about the decision.  In part that is why I have waited a few days before writing up an article on the whole shenanigan.  I was pretty ticked off about it in the first several hours after seeing the email.  The community in whole also seems to share that same sentiment.

Today, I want to share some of my thoughts on the whole certification thing.  I want to share some of the community thoughts on the soon to be extinct certification.  I also want to try and do all of this in an even keel.

First some back story. Let’s revive some of my thoughts and perspectives on certification and training from past articles.

MCJ (Microsoft Certified Journeyman)

When I first wrote about this, I called it a Stepping Stone Cert. That article can be found here. There is also a follow-up article here about it. This came about because of two fundamental reasons: 1. Cost of MCM and 2. lack of validity behind the MCITP/MCDBA/MCSE certifications.

As far as the SQL MCM track goes, the first fundamental reason for that blog series was corrected.  Microsoft opened up the SQL MCM to a broader audience by eliminating the 3 week rotation requirement and by lowering the cost (most of which was probably due to the 3 week rotation).  Suddenly the MCM became much more attainable for somebody like me.  I think that this barrier to entry is right sized now.  I would probably still be happy with the cost if it were to be double the current cost (the cost is travel and exam costs for somebody like me).  Could Microsoft take it up another notch?  Probably.  I don’t think I would be as miffed by the decision to raise the bar another level, as I was with the decision to try and force extinction on the MCM.

The second reason has not been addressed in any manner in my opinion.  Since writing that series, I put myself to the challenge and took all four of the pre-requisite exams for MCITP SQL Server 2008.  I took the exams without preparation and found them to still be excessively easy.  Even going out on the web today, I can find plenty of resources for those exams that look like the exams I took.  To me, this validates my concern as well as the concern of many who attained the MCM that the MCSE/MCITP/MCDBA is nothing more than a paper certification that can be far too easily braindumped.  I will post some quotes along those very lines as well.

Bootcamp Certifications

I have also written about my disdain for many training facilities in the past.  One such article can be read here.  Part of the reason for that article was to try and make it to training by SQLSkills.  They perform training that can be respected, unlike all of those MCSE farms out there that teach you how to pass the test and do nothing about teaching you valid SQL Skills.  Sadly, I did not make it to that training offered with that contest, and am still seeking my first opportunity to attend.  You can read my reasons for not having attended here.

To belabor this point.  That was not the only run-in I have had with a paper certified DBA.  On other occasions I have been interviewing and received stacks of resumes from these Bootcamps.  I have received numerous resumes for a Senior DBA role with “truck driving” or “rope making” as the only prior experience.  While that doesn’t mean these people are not intelligent, they are in no way qualified to be a Senior DBA just yet.  I don’t care what the bootcamp promises these people, a bootcamp is not experience and a MCSE/MCDBA/MCITP certification does not automatically equate to a Senior DBA.

However, if you had an MCM apply for the job, that should equate to a Senior DBA.  And no, just because one is an MCM does not mean we know everything about SQL Server.  It does mean, however, that we are very good, seasoned and can figure it out quickly if there is something we don’t know.  And I will take a moment for a sidebar here as well.  Just because somebody is an MCM (or presenting or training) does not mean you have an opportunity to try and play stump the chump.  If you engage in behavior such as that, you are pretty ignorant and crass.

With some of that background out of the way, we can now dive into some of the aftermath caused by this announcement.

Disdain for Paper Certs (MCITP/MCSE/MCDBA)

References for these citations will be hyperlinks on the persons name or images of the citation in whole.

we definitely need something that distinguishes us from the horde of paper MCITPs/MCSEs, etc. – Luke Edson

Even though I’m not a MCM yet I sick of seeing paper MCP’s get ahead and the MCM gave me hope and a goal to differentiate myself as I’m sure it did to many others. - Michael Usov

As of last night, there are now 0 certifications that one can take that I will immediately respect. MCITP/MCTS/MCSA/MCSE tell me that either a person is interested in learning more, that they were required by their company to take the exams and did the absolute bare minimum memorisation or that they’re a cheat, which it is I have to find in the interview. - Gail Shaw (MCM, MVP)

I haven’t taken a single Microsoft certification. Now, since the only one I respect is gone, I don’t have to. - Grant Fritchey (MVP)

Without something like the MCSM/MCM to truly validate the knowledge & experience of those who take and pass the exam how can we differentiate ourselves from those that have just brain dumped or boot-camped their way to an MCSE? Without the MCSM/MCM program we will just return to the bad old days of the certifications not being worth having. - SQLServerMonkey (John Martin)

What this does is make the MCSE (eminently brain dumpable) the highest level of certification. There is nothing that anyone with real knowledge can do to differentiate themselves from someone that bought the cert out the back of a lorry. - Nic Cain (MCM)

That is just a few of the sentiments.  Now let’s look at some of the comments from twitter on this affair.

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This is just a small sample of some of the activity and comments concerning this announcement.  Granted, it does not paint the entire picture yet since it seems pretty much opposed to this decision by Microsoft.  To put it as Mary Jo Foly said on ZD-Net (emphasis added) “Microsoft’s surprise phase-out of its highest-level certification programs has angered a number of those who have trained or are in the midst of training to be “masters” across a variety of the company’s products.

It should be understood that there would be an angry backlash when the “pinnacle” of Microsoft certification has been abolished.

pinnacleThis is a sentiment that was echoed by Tim Sneath in his comments on the connect item when he called the MCM the vanguard.

“You are the vanguard of the community. You have the most advanced skills and have demonstrated it through a grueling and intensive program. The certification is a clear marker of experience, knowledge and practical skills.” - Tim Sneath

To put it another way, we have this from Simon Sharwood at The Register

Microsoft has again enraged some of its most committed users, by “retiring” the Microsoft Certified Master (MCM), Microsoft Certified Solutions Master (MCSM), and Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA) certifications. 

It should be abundantly clear that this decision is driving a wedge between the “most committed users” and Microsoft.  Not in the decision itself but also in the way that it was executed.  Sending the news out at 10PM PST (-7 UTC) is being viewed as nothing more than a means to try and mute the criticism.  Instead, the criticism has boiled over and many in the community are unhappy with Microsoft, Microsoft Learning, and this decision.

Furthering the backlash is not just the articles by the news outlets and the social media networks, but also through several blogs that have been written concerning the topic. This news has not only angered some, but also disheartened them.  One such comment I received was the following:

I am changing tracks, after 14 yrs of prod dba work and with this, it is the end of the road for me

A DBA of 14 years is disheartened to the point to change career paths and goals? Does Microsoft really want to push away the committed users in this fashion?

Cause of the Pause

Tim posted several possible reasons for the need to pause the MCM program in a post on the connect item.  There has been some feedback and some of it nastier than other feedback.  Two of the big driving factors that seem relevant from his comments are: 1. Traction and 2. Cost.

It was also stated that there was months of deliberation on the topic.  I don’t think Tim is fooling anybody with that statement.  There is evidence that Microsoft continued to take money for rotations starting in October as late as last week.  This seems to be a bit of back-pedaling in a cover up at the very least to try and take some heat off the decision.

As per the two semi-coherent reasons for canceling the advanced certifications, the only one that seems to hold water is cost.  I don’t buy into the barriers to entry (as is the case for others per their responses on the connect item).  I don’t buy into the traction issue.

Tim stated that .08% of MCSEs go on to become MCM.  For Microsoft that seems to be a bad thing.  For the rest of the world, this seems to be a good thing.  This is the peak, pinnacle, vanguard we are talking about here.  Can you have a peak that contains 10% of your certified user base?  That seems more like a saddle than a peak to me.

With .08% traction, that is a good thing in my mind.  I have seen plenty of potential clients demanding an MCM.  Sure, they may not have known what an MCM is/was last year, but we are in a changing landscape and people know what the certification represents.

If Microsoft wanted better traction, I think they should have done some of the things that Greg Low has pointed out in the connect item.

A first step in making the program more relevant would have been to make use of it within other Microsoft programs. For example, Microsoft Certified Trainers could have been required to have at least taken the knowledge exam. When I suggested that, it was met with howls of “but we’d lose most of the trainers”. While that’s partly true, what does that tell you about the existing trainers?

Instead of abandoning it, why not take quality seriously and see it applied throughout related programs. The MCT program is one but another would be the Gold Partner program. Is it really acceptable to have Gold Partners working (and promoted by Microsoft) on the largest projects, without a single MCM/MCSM on staff? Why not require real demonstrated ability in the Gold Partner program?

Speaking on the Gold Partner program, there was apparently some inconsistency there with that as well.  For instance, I know some cases where the Gold Partner did not account for the MCMs on staff and in some cases where the “partner” was informed that the MCM would count.  If it doesn’t count (for Gold Partners), how can one expect there to be a more broadened traction with the advanced certification?

The Community

If you are on twitter, I recommend you follow the hashtag #BringBackMCM or #SQLMCM.  I also recommend you read more of the opinions people have written on the topic.  Here is a good starter list:

Radi Atanassov –

http://www.sharepoint.bg/radi/post/The-fall-of-the-Master.aspx

Wayne Sheffield –

http://blog.waynesheffield.com/wayne/archive/2013/08/retiring-of-the-mcm-certifications/

Nic Cain –

http://sirsql.net/blog/2013/8/30/so-long-mcm

Jon Gurgul –

http://jongurgul.com/blog/master-certification-cancelled/

Robert Davis –

http://www.sqlsoldier.com/wp/sqlserver/isthemastercertificationdeadorwillitbebornagain

Ed Leighton –

http://www.edleightondick.com/2013/09/thoughts-about-microsofts-retirement-of-the-mcm/

Marc Anderson –

http://sympmarc.com/2013/09/01/thoughts-on-the-discontinuation-of-the-microsoft-masters-program-by-microsoft-learning/

Tony Redmond –

http://windowsitpro.com/blog/microsoft-learning-kills-mcm-and-mca-accreditations

Mala Mahadevan –

http://diligentdba.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/finding-new-goals/

Is it just endangered or is it dead?

So far, it has been pretty much doom and gloom.  There are some out-crying for a refund (some should and some are just being pithy).  Microsoft gave us a pretty absurd announcement and it was poorly executed.  In no way would many of us be able to retain a client with an announcement executed in the same manner that was done by Microsoft Learning.

We have solely focused on the “supporter” side of the fence and how this announcement affects us.  Very little has been said concerning how this affects those at Microsoft Learning that received the news in similar fashion and who may be without a job in 30 days.

There is a possible light at the end of the tunnel.

That’s why we’re taking a pause from offering this program, and looking to see if there’s a better way to create a pinnacle, WITHOUT losing the technical rigor. We have some plans already, but it’s a little too early to share them at this stage. Over the next couple of months, we’d like to talk to many of you to help us evaluate our certifications and build something that will endure and be sustainable for many years to come.” – Tim Sneath

I will remain cautiously optimistic about the program being revived.  I do not expect it to happen and will be happy if it comes back to life.  That comes with a warning though.  If the program is anything less than the current program, it will be met with disdain by the community and I dare so by Corporations globally.

Another huge fact is being lost in all of this fuss.  Every single person that has pursued the MCM/MCSM/MCA has engaged in education.  Anything that you have learned cannot be revoked by Microsoft.  The certification may be dead (Image snagged from twitter),

mcm_rip

 

but the knowledge and skills each MCM has gained is invaluable.  We can continue to serve our clients better.  And maybe that will be in spite of Microsoft Learning.  Microsoft has said we will continue to be charter members.  That’s cool and all, but it probably won’t hold water with any client that checks the Microsoft Learning website and is unable to find MCM or MCSM anywhere.

I know the characteristics of many of the MCM and I am fairly certain that there is one thing this announcement will not change.  Those who have the drive and passion for SQL Server and attained the MCM, also have a drive and passion for continued education.  We will continue to dive deep into SQL Server.  We will continue to push ourselves.  We will strive to continue to provide top notch service to our clients or employer.  That is just who we are, and the removal of this certification will not change that.

I do fear that the loss of this certification will continue the big brother psychosis in the DBMS world though.  There will be a perpetual “Oracle has a certified Master” or “Oracle has this” and Microsoft will be in the Oracle shadows for a while to come because of it.  We don’t see Oracle abandoning their pinnacle certification.  We don’t see Cisco abandoning their pinnacle certification.  And I am certain it is no less costly to them than Microsoft, nor is it anymore profitable to them than it is Microsoft.

With that in mind, I wonder what is on the mind this Certification and Microsoft learning as it approaches its deathbed. (Image snagged from twitter.)

finaldays

Is Microsoft Learning ready to latch tight to the MCSE that is poorly regarded through the Community and Corporations worldwide?

If relationships matter most, I would hope that Microsoft Learning does not abandon this relationship with the MCM and their most staunch supporters/evangelists.

In concluding this long diatribe, I welcome all MCMs to show their support at Summit 2013.  We are planning on wearing the robes of the Jedi in tribute to the MCM.  The initial idea was by Robert Davis, and we are trying to run with it now.

 One thing remains certain for me, Microsoft cannot change my license plate or that I have earned my MCM!!

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The following two images are courtesy of Robert Davis.

mcm4life001 mcm4life002

Do you Dream?

Comments: 4 Comments
Published on: October 11, 2012

You ever have those nights consumed by all things SQL?

I do.  It happens more than I might like sometimes.  Usually it happens when there is a work problem that I am trying to solve.

I don’t mind it sometimes because it does provide some results at times.  Other times it is of no use.

Sometimes when multi-tasking like this, I wish I could recall some of the code.  Others, I don’t care to recall the code.  And yet other times, the code sits fresh in my head until I sit at a keyboard.  Sometimes, that last one is the only way I am going to get some sleep – find the laptop and then bang out some code.

Of late though, my SQL dreams have been very relaxing.  I have been pouring through books and thinking about topics I might want to study more in depth to become that more well rounded DBA.  Of course, these studies also have another goal in mind.  I am working toward the MCM.

So as I study and think of those extra tidbits I want to learn, I also dream of exotic solutions and implementations.  I have been sleeping better and dreaming more about SQL.  Which is kind of weird come to think about it.  But hey, I will enjoy these SQL dreams and hopefully it will be more than just dreams.  I will soon know if I get to move on to the next exam as I will be taking my Knowledge exam tomorrow.

 

My question for you is: Do you Dream of SQL?  If you do, what kinds of SQL Dreams do you have?

Oh and if you practice this at your desk, do you just tell your boss that you are multi-tasking?

Stepping Stone Cert II

Comments: 4 Comments
Published on: April 20, 2010

Back on March 30, I wrote about a Stepping Stone Certification that seems to be missing between the MCM and MCITP.  I had planned on keeping regular updates about the topic on my blog and have been slacking a bit.  It is certainly time to post an update.

Since that post, the forum chatter has slowed a bit, but it has also been more focused.  Yes, we recently ran into a lull – but that is not an indication of the direction we hope to push with this effort.  Currently there are two threads at SQLServerCentral that discuss this middle ground certification.  We had been tossing the name MCJ around – that has changed.  You can find the threads here and here.  Jack Corbett has also posted a blog on the same topic, you can find his post here.  There has also been mention of it by Steve Jones in his blog here.

Recap

So what have we been up to?  We have been discussing the items listed under “Bridging the Gap” in my first article on the subject.

We have also been working on trying to spread the word and get a better feel for what the community wants and sees fit.  Several of us have taken the topic to our Users’ Groups and presented the idea.  There has been good feedback from those groups and many are on par with what we have discussed so far.  The biggest consensus is that the MCITP means little to nothing to a lot of SQL Server Professionals, and the MCM is too restrictive for many to even attempt.  Along these same lines, a SURVEY has been setup with a few questions to get a general feel for how the community thinks the certification should be handled.  We really want this survey to reach as many people as possible.  The more input, the more valid the findings would be.  Please take the survey – and pass it along to anybody else who you know.

We have also come to a decision that we need more help from the community in getting this thing rolling.  This is a volunteer type effort and would be a pretty big commitment.  It could mean quite a bit of change for the community as well.  More information on that will be forthcoming.

We also think there is a need to find a good name for the certification.  We do not believe at this juncture that the MCJ would be an appropriate name.  It should be something to designate that the certification is specific to SQL Server, but that it is not endorsed / sponsored by Microsoft (Microsoft would likely not be implementing this very soon).

Specifics

Time In Service

A general consensus on this topic was reached with the following criteria.  The candidate would sign a statement attesting to this.

The candidate attests to a minimum of 18 months hands-on experience in SQL Server. Willfully misrepresenting (lying) about this is subject to a permanent revocation of this certification.

 

This does NOT mean an equivalent of 18 months of 8 hr days with hands-on experience; this means 18 months of any hands-on experience. This can be as a developer, DBA, or in BI (SSAS/SSIS/SSRS).

Review Board

The review board should be a panel of 3-5 people (with a preference for an odd number).  The review board may consist of people from local chapters, at least one member of the review board must be a disinterested party (not from the local chapter).  These reviews may be done in person, via phone conference, and may or may not include an interview of the candidate.  Anybody on the review board will be required to sign an NDA as well as some confidentiality agreements.  This would be a volunteer type position.  Those we have discussed as being qualified to be on the board would be 1.  MVPs, 2. Individuals already holding the certification, 3. Recognized industry Gurus on the topic.  These review boards may also be potentially performed at User Conferences.

The review board will need to review all materials pertinent to the candidate being certified.  This includes reviewing the Time in Service, Labs, presentation reviews / scores, interview, and exam scores.

Renewal

There are three facets to renewal.  The first facet is a need for continuing education credits.  The idea here is that the candidate will continue to contribute in the community, provide evidence of the contributions or retake exams to maintain certification.  The second facet is that the candidate will have a review after a period of time (not yet determined as to the interval of the renewal requirement) by the review board.  The third facet is closely tied to the first two facets – a review is required for any elective exams taken after the initial certification.  These exams may be counted as continuing education credits.

Focus Areas for Exams

There is a need to test candidates in specific areas of SQL Server.  However, a candidate need not take all of these exams.  There should be a set of core exams and then some electives.  The electives allow you to add an emphasis to your certification much the same as many Bachelors Degree programs (i.e. MCJ with an Emphasis in DR/HA).

TSQL

  • Basic ANSI SQL
  • T-SQL Enhancements (from 2005/2008)
  • High performing T-SQL – Covering improvements that avoid RBAR type solutions and write code that performs extremely well.

HA / DR

  • Clustering
  • Mirroring
  • Log-Shipping
  • Backup / Restore
  • Replication

Administration

  • DMV
  • T-SQL
  • Backup / Restore
  • Indexing
  • Performance Tuning
  • Execution Plans
  • Corruption
  • Notification Services
  • Troubleshooting?
  • Event Notifications
  • Query Notifications

BI

  • SSIS
  • SSRS
  • SSAS Administration
  • SSAS Development

SSBS – SQL Server Service Broker

  • Not sure where to place this one.  I can see it fitting in a few spots.

Development

  • CLR
  • PowerShell
  • TSQL

It has also been noted that we need to develop a curriculum with specific study materials and resources.

Conclusion

There are more areas to add.  We need more input on what needs to be added.  These are the groupings and notes I have to date.  I am sure I have missed something – however, this is a good amount of information.  So far, we have had some really good discussions.  We have many more good discussions to come.  I hope that this process takes on a high adoption rate and is accepted by the community.

Edit:  added Event Notifications and Query Notifications (left Notification Services though it is not in 2008)

Stepping Stone Cert

Comments: 8 Comments
Published on: March 30, 2010

A few of us have been deliberating and discussing the need for a bridge certification between the MCITP and MCM certifications from Microsoft.  This discussion was brought about due to an editorial by Steve Jones at SQLServerCentral.  As the discussion has progressed I believe there are some good ideas coming about from the discussions on how to create such a bridge.  I want to share some of that info here as well as some background on the topic.

Why is there a need?

Microsoft has two levels of certification that are of interest to many Database Professionals.  The first is the MCITP and the second is the MCM.  The MCITP is a series of exams taken from computer that are designed to test general skills related to one of the database roles and the exam topic in particular.  This certification is relatively accessible and has minimal relative cost (you pay for each exam and study materials).

The MCM is a higher achievement with considerably more cost.  The MCM is conducted via a “boot-camp” training session on the Microsoft campus for three weeks straight.  The cost is $18,500 for the three weeks alone.  Beyond those costs are all associated travel fees (lodging, food, transportation).  To be accepted into the program there is an application process and a non-refundable fee of $125.  There are exams and labs that must be passed in order to receive the certification.  There is also the time requirement of five years in the profession and be an MCITP.  Now, you do get to receive training at the hands of some MVPs such as Kimberly Tripp and Paul Randall – which could be quite an experience alone.  As you can see, this certification is designed for Senior level Database Professionals and has some high barriers to entry.

These two levels of certification create a chasm between themselves.  There is a lot of middle ground that is not covered.  Many can’t afford the MCM, and many won’t do the MCITP due to perception.  If there is something between the two that can bridge the gap, there will be change in perception from the community as well as business.  The certification in the middle needs to be able to build on the MCITP and serve as a building block for the MCM if one should desire to pursue it.  However, it should also be recognized as being able to stand on its own (which the MCITP does not) as a quality certification.

Barriers to Entry

Barriers to entry are requirements that must be met by an individual prior to being accepted.  This term is used in business and economics and denotes the difficulties a company may have when starting up in an industry.  Barriers to entry are good.  They help create competition and try to help create a perception of quality.

I believe the MCM has some high barriers for a few good reasons.  These reasons are:

  1. Prevent people from cheating the system.  Certifications have received a black eye in general due to people cheating the exams and through the use of widely available brain-dumps.
  2. Be a credible certification.  Since MS is controlling the environment of this certification, it would be difficult to cheat your way to being an MCM.  By being so difficult as well, it could garner more respect for the person having achieved it and thus instill a little more confidence in the certification system.
  3. Make the MCM prestigious.  With so much cost and so few people attaining the certification, it could become a desirable certification.
  4. In addition to those reasons for the barriers, there is the revenue that this program will generate for Microsoft as well.

Bridging the Gap

How does a company that sponsors a certification bridge a gap such as exists for Microsoft with the MCM and MCITP?  That is the dilemma that has several people talking and particularly in the discussion forum from the editorial mentioned already.  There is a foundation of ideas that are forming into a consensus on how to handle this middle ground.  This does not however mean that all of the questions have been answered.  Nor does it mean that these ideas are to be adopted by Microsoft or even PASS.  Here is a review of the foundation being proposed.

  1. MCITP Certified
  2. Lab / Project
  3. Review Board
  4. Presentation
  5. Exams
  6. Time in Service

This bridge would be akin to the Journeyman in the trades.  The idea being that the MCITP is more like an apprenticeship.  You have hopefully learned a little bit from the exams and studying performed to gain that certification.  The next step is to journey out as an apprentice and establish yourself in the industry.  Somebody signs off that you are able to perform the duties that to which you ascribe.  A journeyman can do the work without supervision and has the endorsement of his peers.  This is a formalized approval.  Does one need to be certified to be able to do the job?  NO.  This is a path for those that desire to be certified.  Will this path lend more credence to the person doing the job?  Potentially.  Since this certification is not in a bubble there will be some gaming of the system.  The amount of gaming and cheating will be considerably less.

MCITP Certified

Being certified at the base level should be a pre-requisite.  This requirement holds for the MCM and shows some level of competence and intent toward certification and the DBMS.

Lab / Project

The conducting of a hands on exercise is essential to testing the ability of the candidate.  Being able to perform a given task under pressure is what we do as professionals.  This will help to divulge the mettle of the candidate as well as demonstrate the skill set.  The administration of this exercise is one yet to be flushed out.  There needs to be a large pool of exercises for this to help prevent any brain-dumping of content or cheating of the system.

Presentation

Senior level professionals in the community need to be able to communicate effectively.  This presentation can be a topic of choosing by the candidate.  The presentation could be scored by the attendees to provide additional feedback for the Review Board.  A benefit of requiring this is to help build a Presenter pool for the various events in the community.  This also helps to provide additional material for review on how the candidate handled the task being presented and knowledge base.

Review Board

A panel of peers needs to review each and every applicant.  This will serve multiple purposes.  The primary purpose is to reduce the likelihood that somebody has gamed the system.  The board themselves should be Certified and well respected individuals in the SQL Community.  A nice example would be to have MVPs sign up for this.  A secondary benefit of this is that this review could serve as the application for the MCM.  The review will entail a review of a presentation (at minimum) the candidate has done, the lab / project, Exam Scores and potentially be an interview directly with the candidate.

Time in Service

This is the most controversial requirement for the certification.  If one is pursuing the MCM, then one must wait five years anyway.  If not then the candidate may or may not be intrigued by the need to wait for 2 years.  I feel that time in service gives more credence to the certification.  From Boy Scouts up through employment there are several time in service stipulations that one must meet in order to attain the goal.  I don’t think two years as a Database professional is a hard requirement (especially for those that have been working in the arena for several years already).  This time in service can serve as a fleshing out period.  I think there can be exceptions built in for this requirement.

Exams

This is pretty straight forward.  There are exams required for the MCITP, there need to be exams for this middle cert.  The exams need to entail greater difficulty and possibly be more specific skill-set.  This is an area for greater discussion.

Conclusion

These requirements are designed in an effort to build the community and bring a higher level of credence to the profession.  In no way should these be considered as an effort to esteem ourselves as the elite.  There are plenty of details to be discussed.  This is a worthwhile cause to champion and try to get PASS and MS on board with it.  Currently we call this certification the MCJ (JourneyMan).  I think that a renaming of the MCITP is also in order to help delineate the path from beginner to master.  MCITA would suffice for me.  Maybe the MCJ should also be more along the lines of MCITJ.  However, the MCJ works in coordination with the MCM as far as naming convention goes.

Certification

Comments: 4 Comments
Published on: March 25, 2010

There seems to be quite a flurry of talk these days about certification. There is evidence of it in the forums and editorials at SSC, as well as in several personal blogs of various SQL Professionals throughout the community. I even see it happening with the quarterly goals at my employer (yes we have quarterly goals).

I have, myself, taken several certification exams. I found them worthwhile for my personal and career growth. I haven’t taken an exam in probably ten years though. I have always found that studying by myself with the materials I could find online or via a bookstore was the best way to go. Studying in this fashion, I could drive the pace and spend as little or as much money as necessary to pass the exam. Through this practice, I have earned quite a few letters after my name from Cisco to Novell to Microsoft to Citrix to A+ and N+ (it all started with the A+ certification due to employment requirements). Each of the certs was job related and useful when working in a one man shop type of setting.

Well, it is time again to commit to getting certified. I doubt I will pursue the MCM any time soon. However, I will be pursuing the MCITP certification as soon as possible. I will probably pursue some other vendor specific certifications due to work related goals and prior personal goals I never fulfilled. As I progress, I will likely blog about my successes and experiences. However, don’t expect to find any information specific to my exams – other than general feelings upon completion.

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