This is probably part 1 of a series, but no guarantees.
I've been working with SQL Server for 10 years and for most of that time I've thought certification was unnecessary. When I first started out my boss was not a fan of MS certifications, so I wasn't interested either. Once I had some experience, I thought that my experience was enough. So what changed my mind? I moved and got to know people who, in my opinion, know a lot more about SQL Server than I do, so I was challenged to "up my game" and one way to do that is through certification. The certification requires that I study about areas of SQL Server that I have not had the opportunity to work with or needed to know about, areas like clustering, log-shipping, online restores, to name just a few.
Another reason is that I enjoy presenting (teaching) and I think I'd like to continue to do that and maybe make some money doing it. So, I decided that one way to do that is to become and MCT (Microsoft Certified Trainer) and in order to do that you need to be an MCITP.
Finally, after having already decided to go down the certification path, I read this article in ComputerWorld, Opinion: Certifications are no longer Optional. I don't know how accurate that might be, but I also think that certifications can't hurt me.
So What Have I Done?
I recently took (and passed) 70-432: TS: Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Implementation and Maintenance.
I prepared for the test by going through Buck Woody's (@BuckWoody) blog series on his preparation for this test. I also purchased the MCTS Self-Pace Training Kit (Exam 70-432): Microsoft SQL Server 2008-Implementation and Maintenance. I purchased the book because it comes with practice test software which I thought would be valuable. The training kit was helpful, but a little shallow, I really expected it to be delve deeper into the subjects. The case study presented at the end of each chapter was the most helpful part of the book as it really caused me to think about what I thought was the best way to solve the problem(s) presented. I actually had a harder time doing the practice test(s) than I did with the real test. I don't think I passed the real test because of this book, but it did help augment my experience and the other resources.
Having never taken a certification test before and this being about 15 years after the last test I took that actually meant anything, I was a bit concerned about being able to pass. This concern was based on the fact that I had NOT passed a practice test. I'll share that I have always been a good test taker, especially when the test is multiple choice, which the certification test is. I got to the test center about 30 minutes before the test was scheduled (as recommended) and was registered and at the test station about 20 minutes later. Now, the recommendation is to allow 2 hours and 45 minutes for the test so I expected a long test. Well, I was leaving the test center 40 minutes after I sat down at the test station. During that time I did the practice test, as it was my first time, did the pre-test MS survey, took the test, reviewed every question on the test, took the post-test MS survey, and the post-test Prometric survey. You can decide how hard the test was.
The test definitely covered all the areas it said it would cover, but I thought it should have been twice as long as there was not enough depth to the questions. I am pretty sure I could have passed without studying. I definitely could have passed without studying as much as I did. Would I expect someone who passed this test to be able to sit down and set up a cluster or replication? No. I would expect to be able to give them a scenario and have them give me an basic solution that would be meet business requirements around availability and recovery. So it has some value, but could be better.
I've scheduled 70-450: PRO: Designing, Optimizing and Maintaining a Database Server Infrastructure using Microsoft SQL Server 2008. I'll have another post about this test when I get there.