Certifications

Recently I’ve completed the Microsoft 70-761 and 70-762 certifications. I’ve been using SQL Server for years now, since version 6.0, and I’ve seen it evolve a lot.

There’s a lot of debate about the value of certifications. Forums abound with questions like: "Do employers value certifications?" and "Do certifications accurately measure anything other than one’s ability and motivation to cram for an exam?"

After completing these two exams, here is my own personal assessment of their value:

The certifications force you to review much of sql server’s broad set of current features. Do you use SQL mostly as an OLTP data store? Perhaps you haven’t had cause to delve into recent improvements made to columnstore indexes. Are you more concerned with data warehousing and reporting? Perhaps memory optimized tables aren’t something you’ve needed to look into. Taking the certification exams encouraged me to review a wide spectrum of sql server functionality.

I also feel that achieving the certifications does carry some credence. Although google is filled with page after page of "exam dump" links purporting to help prospective test takers cheat their way to exam success, I do feel that having passed the exams does show initiative and a level of familiarity with the material. At minimum, someone who has achieved MCSA or MCSE by passing two, or three or more certifications (respectively) has cursory familiarity with concepts covered by the exams, and knows the buzzwords. Combine this with experience and I think it is a good way to show that you are a professional at your craft.

There are a lot of full-stack developers who have worked with sql server before, but who have not reached beyond the most common transact-sql syntax or done the deep dive into optimizing indexes. A certification can lend credence and weight to your recommendations.

As an example, I work with a database that contains heap tables. Now, heap tables are bad. Any google search will tell you how much better your heap tables will perform if you add clustered indexes to them.

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