Targeted Certifications: Microsoft SQL Server 2005

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In the IT world, the ability to prove your skills and knowledge level has never been more important. According to Microsoft Corp. research, fewer than 10 percent of IT professionals worldwide hold professional accreditations.

As IT has grown from a technology-centric job to a strategic, mission-critical function, IT professionals increasingly need to demonstrate their skills using technology to solve business problems. Microsoft Learning’s new generation of certifications reflect these changes. The new program measures the IT professional’s ability to apply the latest, specialized technical skills needed to succeed today. They provide a valuable yardstick by which individuals can prove their value and IT managers can better assess.

Two Series, More Targeted
Microsoft Learning’s new two-series certification program for Microsoft SQL Server 2005 provides a more targeted approach that better reflects job roles and the changing face of IT. Each series verifies different skill and knowledge sets.

This two-series approach is a significant shift from the Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA) credential. The four-exam MCDBA tests knowledge across the breadth of SQL Server and often requires IT or database professionals to be tested in areas of skills and knowledge that do not reflect their specific job role. Its breadth also makes it more difficult to demonstrate specific skill sets.

The new Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist requires candidates to demonstrate their skill sets with specific Microsoft technologies (e.g., SQL Server 2005) and provides a foundation from which to achieve professional-level IT certification. The certification is valid as long as the product is supported.

The new Microsoft Certified IT Professional is designed for experienced professionals. This series of certifications is tied to job roles in an organization and tests a candidate’s professional skills within the context of using the technology. Candidates are required to take one to three exams based on the requirements for a particular path. The exams feature scenario-based questions that demonstrate an IT or database professional’s ability to make the right business and technology decisions for any given scenario.

Microsoft SQL Server 2005 certifications
There are four certifications specific to Microsoft SQL Server 2005—one Technology Specialist, which validates technical skills, and three IT Professional, which focus on the specific job role and provide a more targeted and streamlined path to prove your level of focus. All four certifications provide an easy-to-understand verification of skills for IT managers to use to assess an employee’s skills.

Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist – Microsoft SQL Server 2005 tests core technical skills. Technology specialists implement and maintain databases using specific instructions and specifications, and they possess thorough knowledge of the product, including use of the tools, Transact-SQL language and user interface navigation.

The Technology Specialist certification requires passing one exam focused on implementing and maintaining SQL Server.

Microsoft Certified IT Professional credentials validate specific job-role skills outside core technology, such as operational processes and procedures, and analyzing business problems. These certifications are designed for developers who have been working with databases for several years. For SQL Server 2005, there are three distinct IT Professional certifications:



  • Database Administrator: The Database Administrator credential certifies the ability to keep up with enterprise business solutions 24×7. Skills include SQL Server installation and configuration, managing and maintaining single-dimensional and multidimensional databases, designing or implementing security enhancements or server automation, and monitoring or troubleshooting SQL Server activity.
  • Database Developer: The Database Developer credential certifies the ability to design security-enhanced, stable enterprise database solutions. Skills include design and implementation of relational database models and storage objects, server programming, data retrieval or modification with SQL queries, and query tuning and optimization.
  • Business Intelligence Developer: The Business Intelligence Developer credential certifies the ability to design solutions, transforms and reports. Skills include design and implementation of multidimensional databases, data marts and data warehouses; custom transforms, analysis and reporting solutions; and custom server programming via Multidimensional Expressions.


IT Professional certification requires passing two exams. For example, for Database Administrator the exams cover designing a database server infrastructure and optimizing and maintaining a database administration solution.

Practice Test
Preparation for Microsoft SQL Server 2005 certification exams starts with a practice test to assess readiness. Microsoft Certified Practice Test Providers (PTPs) provide high-quality practice exams that are approved by Microsoft.

PTP practice tests help you assess your knowledge and readiness for Microsoft Certification Program (MCP) exams, and the feedback you receive helps identify areas where you might need additional study, training or hands-on work experience. Microsoft Learning and its Certified Partners for Learning Solutions have a variety of learning tools available that allow people to combine the methods and form factors that are best suited to their learning styles and life circumstances, including a new self-paced training kit.

Which Certification Is Right?
If you are migrating to the 2005 version and have already earned the MCDBA credential, you may upgrade with two exams, by first passing one exam for the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist – Microsoft SQL Server 2005 certification and then a Microsoft Certified IT Professional – Database Administrator upgrade exam (one fewer than developers without MCDBA certification).

For those who are working in a SQL Server 2000 (or earlier) environment, the MCDBA is the appropriate certification to achieve. When you or your company are ready to upgrade to SQL Server 2005, you can leverage the same simple, straightforward upgrade paths.

Differentiate Yourself
Microsoft Learning’s new Microsoft SQL Server 2005 certification provides a rigorous, flexible curriculum to help enhance technical knowledge and skills, and it provides a recognized and respected certification to differentiate yourself from your peers. Microsoft certification is a trusted benchmark that provides a unique measure of proficiency and helps give you an edge in a competitive marketplace.

For more information on Microsoft Learning, visit

Al Valvano is director of Microsoft Certifications for Microsoft Learning. Sondra Webber is product manager, Developer and Database Certification for Microsoft Learning. They can be reached at

From an Expert: Tricks of the Trade

The new certifications for SQL Server 2005 take a different approach than previous SQL Server certifications. But according to Wayne Snyder, managing consultant for Mariner, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, the benefits are essentially the same. “Trust and credibility,” Snyder said. “When you go in and speak to a potential employer or client, and you’re certified and the other candidate isn’t, the scale can tip in your direction. So you may get to walk into the environment with an advantage. It’s especially helpful when the field is tight and the decision is critical.”

Snyder develops Web-based training materials for LearnKey Inc. and has earned several Micros

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