Back in November at PASS Microsoft Announced changes to the Microsoft Certified Master program. Instead of 3 weeks of training and exam’s in Redmond and close to a $20,000 price tag, you can take a Knowledge Exam and a Lab exam at select Prometric Testing Centers for a price of $2,500 ($500 for the Knowledge exam, $2,000 for the Lab – provided that you pass both on your first try).
One of the things that Microsoft did as well was get the good folks over at SQL Skills to tape 70 different videos, some are 2 parts with a lecture and a demo, on a vast array of subjects to give you an idea of the scope of what you will need to know to pass these exams.
So you may be saying “Ball’s, I won’t be going for an MCM. It would be nice, but I don’t have the time, the money, or [insert perfectly reasonable excuse of choice]. Why should I care about these videos?” Well, Dear Reader the reason you want to watch these MCM videos is that they will make you better at what you do, even if you have no desire to pursue this Certification.
So let us discuss how these videos will make you better and why Certifications are important.
How These Videos Will Make You Better.
There are millions, billions, probably more than trillions of things I do not know. The things I know the most about are my kids, comic books, and SQL Server. Every time I learn something I get a little bit better. Whether it’s how the best way to make one of my son’s/daughter’s smile, or that Action Comic’s #775 is the best Superman Story Ever , or the physical structure of a Data Record and how it is stored on a Page, learning these things make me better at things that I love to do.
Paul Randal (blog|twitter), the man himself, does an internal Deep Dive in Data Structures, Kimberly Tripp(blog|twitter) covering Indexing Internals, Brent Ozar (blog|twitter) on Virtualization, Bob Beauchemin (blog|twitter) on Security and Encryption, that’s an awesome line up! And normally you would pay top dollar in order to get this training, and Dear Reader it is available for FREE!
I’m watching this, the guys I’m working with are watching these video’s, and we’ve even had a couple lunch-in’s where we’ll get a conference room a projector and we’ll watch and discuss the topic that are covered.
Learning makes you better, and this is a golden opportunity to better yourself, even if you have no desire to get the MCM Certification chances are there is a video that covers a SQL topic that you are using daily, and it can probably teach you something that will help you do your daily grind in a better less grinding kind of way.
Why Certifications are Important
Personally I’m a big proponent of Certifications; I was in awe of them before I attempted to get one. I always thought that just to have a Microsoft Certification you had some super reservoir of knowledge. When I decided to go for my first certification I got the 70-431 book off of Amazon, I studied it cover to cover, made flash cards, did all of the examples, took the exam and…..failed.
The crushing defeat lasted just long enough for me to leave the testing center and get into the car. By the time I turned on the car, I knew exactly what I would do. While it was still fresh in my mind I would take the items that I was weakest on and I’d make a study guide, to cover those topics like crazy. I didn’t fail by much and I was already itching for another try. One week later I took the exam again and got a 902, I was stoked!
I knew the material, I was able to use it at work, and I grew as a professional because I had pushed myself. You can push yourself without going for the certification, but that piece of paper shows that you took the time to pursue something, and I believe that is important.
I’ve had employers tell me that they did not value Certifications, but never in the interview. I have had managers where arguing with them about why Certifications are important happened so often, I could have listed it on my resume as a hobby. But the second a client wanted to know who the DBA on the project would be they were more than happy to point out that I was their “Microsoft Certified” DBA. Whenever we were interviewing potential DBA candidates they were quick to mention my Certifications when they introduced me as their Sr. DBA’s.
I’ve heard the criticisms about brain dumps and Certification Boot Camps, but the fact is if you’re not a DBA, if you’re a hiring manager with no DBA experience, you may not know how to sniff out the real ones from the fakes. However, if you are a DBA and you studied and earned the Certifications then you know what the other person should know.
In an interview to me a Certification is not a free pass that you know what you’re doing; it is a bulls-eye saying BRING IT ON! I want tough questions, I want technical questions, I want to make sure that the people in the room to feel confident that they are getting an experienced professional, and if I don’t know the answer to a question then I’m not too proud to ask because I like to learn, and I hope Dear Reader that you like to learn as well.
So go get learning on what it takes to be a Master, and maybe get motivated to go become one.