Thursday, April 1, 2010

PASS, Microsoft, and Certification

Steve Jones’ (@way0utwest) recent SQLServerCentral editorial, The Missing Certification, has spawned a vigorous debate about what the missing certification should be, not whether or not there is a one missing.  Sure, there has been some discussion about the value, or lack thereof, of current Microsoft SQL Server certifications, but, if you can sift through the clutter and get to the main discussion, there is agreement that the current exams fall a bit short and that the MCM program is a bit too much for the vast majority of people.

So where does PASS come in? 

I think that PASS should be the organization that promotes and provides this middle tier certification.  I know that this has been discussed in the past, but I have not seen any public mention of an initiative in this area by PASS recently. 

What about Microsoft? 

One issue with the current certifications is that they are published by Microsoft and many people see them as just another revenue stream for Microsoft, not as valid tests of skills.  This alone taints any additional certifications that Microsoft may offer.

So what is the solution? 

First I think we need to change the perception about what gaining a Microsoft certification means.  To me, it isn’t really a measure of actual skills, but more a way to measure and guide professional development.  For example, if I were to see a resume where a person was certified on SQL Server 7, but never moved forward to certify with a later version, I would be inclined to ask why they did not seek another certification and what they were doing for professional development.  But, if another candidate comes in with certification from 7.0 to 2005 I would be clued in that they have an interest in their own professional development.

I think that a great path forward for PASS would be to develop guidelines for continuing education for SQL Server professionals.  Similar to what most states have in place for maintaining a teaching credential, where you are required to have a certain number of professional development hours in different areas.  Currently PASS doesn’t have the power to require it for work, but could make it part of becoming a “Professional SQL Server DBA/Developer/BI Developer”.

I know I don’t have the complete answer, but I really think professional development guidelines are a great place to start.

Here's another perspective:

Jason Brimhall (@sqlrnnr) - Stepping Stone Cert

What do you think?

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