Hi All, I've been an ETL assistant for about the past 2 years now. I am quickly learned the basic of using T-SQL, SSIS, and other various Microsoft tools (like Access). I am liking this field of work and possibly want to continue on this career path through college and couple of years after I get out of college. I've met several ETL specialists and DBA's and none of which spoke positively about Microsoft Certifications. So, for those of you have attempted or even have any of the Microsoft Certifications, here are my questions: 1. Are they credible to employers? 2. Because of the fast pace changes in the IT world, is it worth getting certified on a specific area? 3. What are the major Pros and Cons of spending money to obtain a Microsoft Certification? ALL opinions are welcome! Thank You **Additional Questions:** Thank you all for the insight guys, I appreciate it. This is an important topic especially for young SQL newbies like myself and it’s even more important to hear from experts like yourself who have interviewed and hired people in this line of work. If none of you mined it, I have another question! When you were and have hired DBA’s, ETL Specialists, etc., what are key skills and characteristics did you most noticed as “WOW” I want that guy on my team? Thank you again!
It really all depends on the person hiring. I am an IT Manager and having someone that has the years of experience plus the certifications lets me know they value their career and continuing to educate themselves. Passing the test to earn the certs is not an easy task if you do it the right way. If I am interviewing someone that has zero experience and loads of certs, I typically pass them right over. All they have done is study or use exam crams to pass a test. Someone with 2-5 years experience with the certs shows discipline. Although IT is constantly changing, look at all the folks with SQL 2005/2008 certs that are many years old and how many shops still support 2005. The certs are good for a long while. I don't rush out and take the latest and greatest exams, I typically renew every other release, part of that reason for me is the nearest testing center is 90 miles away. Pro's, it could give you an edge to get a new job or raise where you are at. Con, I really don't think there is one.
I'm not currently in a position for hiring DBAs, but I was for the previous 15 years. During that time, I noticed a distinct pattern. I saw, literally, thousands of resumes. I participated in hundreds of interviews. The majority that had MS Certifications prominently displayed on them came from people who generally were not as good at the job as people who either didn't have them at all, or listed them down at the bottom of a two page resume, after all their experience, training and knowledge was explained. It got to the point where, if I saw certs, I made sure to question everything on the resume a little harder because frequently the knowledge and experienced claimed wasn't what it appeared to be. In short, except for the Microsoft Certified Master (MCM), I have very little faith in Microsoft Certifications. I would rather see that you participate in a forum like this answering questions, blog about your experiences, write articles for SQL Server Central, anything rather than rely on passing what amounts to a marketing trivia test. And yes, I know my opinion on the matter is a little more harsh than most you'll meet, but it is based on all those people I had to talk to who usually couldn't explain the difference between a clustered index and a non-clustered one or tell me the difference between blocking and deadlocking.
If I may respectfully disagree with both the other Tim and Grant, I have different experiences. **Why I like certifications....** When I was looking for my first SQL Job, I was very openly told by more than one company I interviewed with that my certifications were a factor in getting the interview, and the company that did hire me in the end paid for me to get additional certifications while I worked there. Later, when I was screening resumes and doing interviews for entry level positions I always valued certifications and gave those with the certifications a second look before I put them aside. During the interviews, those with certifications could normally demonstrate at least a basic understanding of SQL and the subject matter which meant I wasn't entirely wasting my time with them. **But only for entry level...** So, in short, my experience with certifications on both sides of the hiring table has been generally positive. But let me add some caveats. The certifications helped me when I was entry level and the positions I was conducting interviews for were entry level or just one step up. Now that I have more experience, I still keep my certifications on the resume but they are just a couple more bullet points towards the bottom rather than something I highlight the way I used to. I have not yet been in a position to hire senior people, but if I were I think the certifications would not be a major factor. Unlike Grant, I don't think I would ever see them as a negative. They show that the person knows the basics and they show that they are willing to take the trouble to get the cert, and I think I will always consider that a positive. But for someone with years of experience that can tell stories of projects they have led, the certification is a very minor factor. **Conclusion** I think the fact you have three wildly different answers here hints that people have different views. As the other Tim said, it depends a lot on the hiring manager. But I think my bottom line is that for entry level people they can be helpful. I had them when I was starting out and I like to see them when I am reviewing new entry level resumes. But once you have real experience they fade in relevance.