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The Bit Bucket (Greg Low): IDisposable

Ramblings of Greg Low (SQL Server MVP, MCM and Microsoft RD) - SQL Down Under

SQL Server Certification Statistics

Ken Tanner recently reminded me of the link showing current certification status:

http://www.microsoft.com/learning/mcp/certified.mspx

 

The SQL Server related entries from this list are:

 

MCDBA SQL 2000 152086
MCTS SQL 2005 41665
SQL 2005 BI 2600
SQL 2008 Dev 336
SQL 2008 BI 134
MCITP SQL 2005 DBA 6695
SQL 2005 Dev 2925
SQL 2005 BI 1088
SQL 2008 DBA 92
SQL 2008 BI 50
MCM SQL 2005 18
SQL 2008 2

The 18 SQL 2005 Certified Masters folk have been brought across from the earlier SQL Ranger program. The list doesn't include the SQL 2008 DBA TS certification for some reason. I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on why there was such a big drop in numbers from the 2000 versions to the 2005 versions. I suspect that part of it has to do with the 2000 exams being much easier and that they were a relatively easy option for those pursuing a variety of certifications, including the developer certifications.

Published Thursday, January 29, 2009 4:47 AM by Greg Low

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Adam Machanic said:

I don't think it has anything to do with easier vs. harder, but rather just the value of the certifications itself being almost nothing at this point.  Why bother?

January 28, 2009 1:26 PM
 

AaronBertrand said:

2000 also enjoyed much greater longevity (5 years), so it may have made more sense for people after 2 or 3 years to say, ok, next version is not coming for a while, may as well get certified on the current version.  I would bet that more than half of those certified on 2000 were certified late in the product lifecycle.  With the shorter lifecycle of 2005, 2008, and so on, you might see fewer people invest in the certification because it will likely be obsolete by the time they dust off the resume next.

(As someone else put it, it's another bullet when consulting, but for FTEs it is tough for an individual to justify it or to persuade the company to foot the bill and lost time.)

Also, certification might be worth less than what it's cracked up to be.  Having interviewed dozens upon dozens of DBA candidates with MC% letters up the wazoo who still didn't know much more than how to spell SQL, in an interviewing role I still hold very little value in the letters, and a lot more in what they can actually prove to *me* vs. the test scorer.  Big deal, you passed some multiple choice test; are you going to save or destroy my data center in a moment of crisis?

So now as a professional I take that and seriously drop the weight I would give to getting certifications for myself.  The exception is the certified master, but given the difficulty of actually passing, the financial cost of even attempting, and the amount of off-time it requires, the chances of me going for it are slim to none.  And the lesser ones I just don't perceive to have much value for me.

January 28, 2009 1:36 PM
 

Denis Gobo said:

Here is what I think of certifications and remember I had to interview people with 7 certifications who never heard of SQL  injection, the difference between clustered and non clustered indexes etc etc

If you do not know your stuff. It doesn't matter how many certs you have if you can't answer basic tech questions that you should know then you will not get the job

That said, some companies require to have a certain number of staff have certifications because they are a Gold Partner with Microsoft etc etc Applying for a job with those companies and having a cert might help

Preparing for them is not a waste of time because you will always learn something, wasting money on and taking the exam itself is not worth it in my opinion

January 28, 2009 1:46 PM
 

Ted Malone said:

I don't think it has to do with easy/hard but more along the lines of the SQL2000 certs were new, and the people certified in 2000 don't necessarily take the upgraded exams. Same issue with MCSE in the NT4 time frame as well. I disagree with Adam on them being worth almost nothing. MS Partners get points for each certified individual on staff, and as a Gold ISV partner, we require several certs to stay in the program.

January 28, 2009 2:02 PM
 

cherie sheriff (aka dbymnx) said:

Probably because a lot of corporations aren't upgrading to 2005 and the training budgets are getting tighter.  Corporations are trying to get more out of their employees with minimal cost.  Helps their bottom line.  Plus, after the Y2K bust in technology, some management is leary about spending money on any IT after all the bad IT that was out there trying to profit off a 'doomsday' situation.  My opinion anyway.

January 28, 2009 2:05 PM
 

MikeMaven said:

I was working on my 2005 certification, but quit when 2008 came out.  Why bother when the release cycles are so close?

January 28, 2009 2:14 PM
 

Jonathan Kehayias said:

I'd follow Adam's sentiment on this.  I have my certifications up to date, but only because I took all of the beta exams to provide feedback to Microsoft.  I wouldn't have otherwise continued to maintain my certifications.  I got my 2005 certifications to see if I could do it.  There was no other reason, and it hasn't added any value to date.

January 28, 2009 2:25 PM
 

cr8nk said:

Adam,

I disagree, I think that certifications still hold value.  I do agree that interest has probably dropped in achieving certification.  Back in the late 90's and early 2000's many people were taking brain dump classes and tests were readily available online to cheat with.  I think that era really left people with a bad taste in their mouth regarding certifications, because there were plenty of the people in the field who didn't know their stuff.  I know that I worked with a consultant MCSE who could barely find the start button.  I still believe in certification, not solely as a measure of "this person knows X,Y and Z", but this person has made an effort to further their career and knowledge of the product.  I think it deserves some consideration when hiring a candidate if all other factors are equal.

thanks,

Creighton

January 28, 2009 2:40 PM
 

AaronBertrand said:

Ted, a lot of companies (mine included) aren't Gold partners and to them the cert is essentially worthless.  It's nice to know your employee can pass the test, but it really doesn't add any value.

January 28, 2009 2:53 PM
 

Adam Machanic said:

Creighton: Although I agree that in theory one could use a cert as a tipping point when comparing two equal candidates, I can't say that in my experience interviewing that I've ever had that dilemma.  Most interview experiences are one disaster/disappointment after the next, followed by a single great find.  Those disaster cases are never going to get on the list, certification or not, and those great finds will never need them because they'll never need to tip the scale in their favor--they already have a lot more to offer than 95% of the other people on the market.

January 28, 2009 3:13 PM
 

Denis Gobo said:

I still crack up thinking of a person I interviewed  with 7 certs

First was his name then 4 logos in color, one of this logos was.....brainbench certified HTML 3.1 developer

Why would you put that on your resume?

January 28, 2009 3:23 PM
 

Alexander Kuznetsov said:

I've interviewed a lot of candidates, and noticed no difference between the ones with and without certificates.

Denis,

I think that when you have some time to study, it is better to study some area really well, than to memorize a few simple concepts about technologies you most likely will never use, such as short-lived Notification Services.

January 28, 2009 3:37 PM
 

AaronBertrand said:

Denis I can't stop cracking up that you admitted even agreeing to interview someone who had those logos on their resume.  :-)

Hopefully this was a case where the manager handed you a resume as the applicant showed up?

January 28, 2009 3:46 PM
 

Adam Machanic said:

LOL!  My resume still has BrainBench Certified SQL Developer on it.  I guess I should rip that off of there.  I was bored one evening, they had some promotion where the tests were free, so I went through all of them.  I remember that the questions were rather badly written; even worse than some of the MS SQL Server 2000 exam items... I would certainly not hire someone based on that cert (including myself <g>)

January 28, 2009 3:49 PM
 

Denis Gobo said:

Aaron, we are an equal opportunity company :-)

January 28, 2009 3:59 PM
 

Jason said:

I take them just for fun. I have also run into MCDBA's who don't know what a clustered index is but I would guess > 10% of DBA jobs list certs as a requirement or plus.

January 28, 2009 4:34 PM
 

Greg Low said:

I tend to find the preparation for the exams to be the best part, particularly when doing them in the beta phase. It makes me look at parts of the product that I simply wouldn't have bothered getting into otherwise.

I often used to find people that say "I've worked with the product for 10 years". What they mean is that they've worked with 30% of the product for a long time and often are unaware of other parts of it.

January 28, 2009 4:58 PM
 

John said:

personally i see the certs as providing me with direction in learning a new product or area, we all learn in different ways and for me it provides some structure to the process and introduces me to the other 70% of the product that i don't see day to day as noted by greg (above).

sure there are plenty of people who take brain dumps and fudge their way through (hopefully the newer exams and emphasis on simulations this becomes less useful) but as also noted by all, these people are easily found out at the interview stage.

saying that, i will definitely still give my certs a prominent position on my resume, in the same way that i am still highlighting a uni degree from '98 that initially involved pascal, however it shows an ability to learn and apply oneself, in the same way the cert does.  (i have definitely seen worse on a resume, middle ages battle simulations anyone......yes, have seen that one come across my desk)

January 28, 2009 5:47 PM
 

ArnieRowland said:

You have to keep in mind that the SQL 2000 exams became 'easy' electives for MCSE as well as MCSD.

I think the high SQL 2000 numbers reflect a lot of folks that never intended to work with SQL Server. And the brain dumps at the time were exact matches for the exam questions.

Now there are too many other compelling electives for those seeking MCITP infrastructure or dev certifications to be bothered with SQL Server -and SQL has grown and become more complex to study.

January 28, 2009 5:49 PM
 

noeldr said:

I believe that the "value" of it has been DILUTED, period!

January 28, 2009 6:55 PM
 

JamesHip said:

In my case, SQL Server 2000 was a useful and logical elective to take for MCSD.  But now the MCPD doesn't require it.  Plus, I'm not a DBA, I'm a developer, so I'm concentrating on ITP:Database Developer next.

January 28, 2009 8:21 PM
 

Matthew Roche said:

I must agree with Greg's comment above. I take certification exams to focus my personal self study - they force me to look at the breadth of features covered by the product, including features that I may not have used in my consulting work. In my opinion, anyone who claims that being certified makes them an "expert" is simply demonstrating the opposite, but I still see real value in SQL Server certifications.

I've taken every SQL Server certification exam since SQL Server 6.5 (I have 20 SQL-related exams on my transcript and there's one final SQL Server 2008 exam that I passed recently which hasn't yet shown up) so I believe I have a pretty good idea about the skills and knowledge that are required to pass these exams. When I've been responsible for screening and hiring SQL Server developers I will almost always schedule an interview for candidates with relevant certifications. This shows to me that the candidate is dedicated enough to set self-improvement goals and achieve them, and that counts for a lot. But during the interview, the certification can be a two-edged sword; I tend to be more critical when judging a certified candidate. If a non-certified candidate misses a question or two, I am more likely to be understanding, but if a certified candidate misses questions on topics that should be validated by the certifications that he holds, that weighs strongly against him.

Would I ever hire a candidate simply because of the certifications he holds? Never. But would I give a certified candidate an interview and a chance to show what else he knows? Yes, I would, and have.

Disclaimer: I recently joined Microsoft Learning (the organization within Microsoft that is responsible for the certifications being discussed in this thread) but am not involved with the SQL Server certifications in my job duties. The opinions expressed in this comment are mine and mine alone, and do not reflect necessarily the views of Microsoft or Microsoft Learning.

(How was that for a disclaimer? ;-) This is the first post I've made like this since joining Microsoft, so I'm probably just being over cautious in drawing the line between my personal opinions and anything official from Microsoft. Hopefully I won't get a nasty phone call tomorrow. ;-) But I've been certified on SQL Server for nearly 12 years and had to weigh into the fray...)

January 28, 2009 8:52 PM
 

Mani Singh said:

I was about to take MCITP SQL 2008 DBA upgrade.. After reading all views...I am not sure any more.. Since my company is also far behind implementing 2008 for couple more years... any suggestions..

January 29, 2009 2:12 PM
 

eonsoy said:

Matthew, I met you in Berlin last year during MCT Summit and you were a a speaker about SSIS I guess and you had newly awarded MVP title then and now I see that you joined to Microsoft.

I just wanted to share a memory of mine about certification, when I sit for MCTS:SQL Server 2005 exam and passed, two guys also sit for this exam after me and they failed and asked me how did you pass? And I asked them, how did not you? They told me that they memorized everything from braindumps and simulation questions were not on those papers and they skipped simulation questions so failed. Those guys has nothing to do with SQL Server, they wanted to achieve this certification just because their manager asked them to do so.

My manager also asks me to keep my certifications up to date. How much do I care about them? That's for sure not as much as I used to when I sit for my first exam because of braindump kind of stuff.

January 31, 2009 6:32 AM
 

cerebus said:

I have done a few certs, mainly MCITP:DB Developer, and am halfway to getting the MCITP:BI Developer, but have done them in order to learn the products and tools, rather than to show experience.

Whilst I would include the certs on a resume I would certainly be upfront in any interview about the fact that I did the certs to learn and that I don't have the extended experience that some may assume the certs imply.

I would hope that an interviewer would take that as a sign that I'm capable of understanding the products and concepts (I've never touched a braindump, only legitimate practice exams from SelfTest)...

February 1, 2009 8:36 PM
 

silversov said:

In my opinnion there are a number of factors that dictate whether or not it is worth continuing with certifications. Geography, current employment and technology markets, and technology trends.

As a number of people have stated, I primarily keep myself up to date with certifications more as a personal endeavor, rather than for job prospects. I feel this keeps me from falling behind.

I regularly do employment research where I live and I'm finding that the MCITP isn't as sort after as the MCDBA and MCSE once was.  

February 2, 2009 3:49 PM
 

jo said:

I did the sql 2005 imp & maint exam, I bought a book to study from knowing that microsofts answers may not be the same as the real world answers and read it cover to cover as my bed time story the week before the exam in preperation. I found the exam a doddle and easily passed and i like to think i would have passed without the extra study. The best thing from the whole experience was I learned a loads of usefull stuff from the book that wasnt tested in the exam and for that it was worth the couple of quid. I would say that its like a driving test. You have to learn to operate the machine in the official way but once youve proved that youre competent its up to you. My reason for sitting the exam was that I used to be a DBA but have been doing development contracts for the last couple of years.  I still see myself as a dba and would like to get back to it but whenever i apply for a dba contract i dont get called for interview with the agent saying that my recent experience is unsuitable, or the client wants a candidate whos soley a dba. Since i've put the certification on my cv, the responses have been a lot more positive and has re-opend the door so i will definatly be doing the other 2 exams. When it comes to selecting candidates Its up to the interviewer to make sure what they asy on their cv is true and they can do what they say they can do by asking questions. It p!$$£s me off when people say that anybody can learn the answers for multiple choice questions so they are worth jack all, well i passed not because im a smart arse or i learnt the product from a book but because ive been using sql server every working day for the last 7 years and i would be an idiot if i failed. You have to accept that some people will abuse the system and others will be missinformed, they want to break into IT and are told that if they pass this test a 50k job will be waiting (there is even an advert on the telly). The story of the bloke who passed all his exams but didnt know a cows arse from a banjo is as old as old as the hills and does the rounds in every industry. I recon MS should allow companys who purchases product licences for SS to certify or at least test their employees for free. This would benchamrk standards thus benefit their product as a whole (im thinking about the guy who put an index on every column of the customer table then grumbled that sql is cr@p).

March 1, 2009 2:54 PM
 

Cory said:

I am starting my cert in Sql, but should I do 2005 or 2008. My company uses 2005 now but will use 2008 sometime in the future. We use it in everyday activities and I could use the knowledge and the cert is a bonus. Which should I do? 2005 or 2008.

March 19, 2009 1:39 PM
 

Greg Low said:

Hi Cory,

I'd always suggest working on the latest version of the certs, to maximise their life.

Regards,

Greg

March 19, 2009 5:11 PM
 

Amy said:

I am looking to rent someone's SQL Server 70-431 or 70-432 certification(s) to help my company achieve a Microsoft Business Solutions competency.  

Please contact me at aservi10@gmail.com

Thanks!

July 23, 2009 2:33 PM
 

JohnA said:

I once took the Brainbench test for a mainframe technology in which I have over 20 years of experience.  It was obvious that the person who created the test had no actual knowledge of the subject matter and was simply cherry picking the manuals.  I have since told interviewers that I would be happy to speak to any teckies that they would like, but I adamantly refuse to take a Brainbench test. All I see that Branbench is good for is to deny qualified people jobs due to the lack of experience of persons creating the their tests in the technologys that they are presuming to test.  They ask questions about things that are not relevant, go for minute details instead of the big picture of serious know how in order to do the 'gotcha' thing, and ask extensive questions about things that are simply disallowed in competently managed shops.  In your company restroom you can in all probability find the intellectual equivalent of Brainbench certifications by the roll and they are just about as meaningful as those issued by Brainbench and far more useful.

February 4, 2010 1:05 PM
 

Dean_L. said:

I am new to SQL SERVER Development.  There seems to be a lot of Hiring Managers in this forum.  My question to all of you is this, If I was to do anything to increase my chances of scoring an interview what would it be.  Consider this also, I have no prior experience nor do I have a Bachelors degree but I know the technologies to perform the job.  My only thoughts are to get certified and knock on doors and try to score an internship of some sort.  Any suggestions would be helpful.

February 17, 2011 7:53 PM
 

Eric said:

I've known more than a fair share of bumbling idiots with MBAs as well. Certs like any education, is only education. If you can't do, you can't. However for those that can, and who also have education behind them...

May 11, 2011 3:25 PM
 

mod said:

I feel that certification gives us breadth and experience gives us depth, both have values. Sometimes people will 10 yrs os skill knows nothing more writing few DML statements and other times certified personnel are just remorizing and dumping what they learn from the internet. Nothing beats a good 30mins face to face (not over the phone) interview.  

December 3, 2011 12:43 PM

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