Stepping Stone Cert II

Comments: 3 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.


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).


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.


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).


  • 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.


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


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


  • 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.


  • CLR
  • PowerShell
  • TSQL

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


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)

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  1. quoted on uberVU - social comments says:

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by sqlrnnr: New post: Stepping Stone Cert II (…

  2. […] in-depth.  I would also say that it is due to these problems that there should be some sort of Certification between the MCITP and MCM.  That notion was started some time ago – and I feel there is more validity to it now than […]

  3. […] 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 […]

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