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Brad McGehee avatar image
Brad McGehee asked

Is SQL Server certification really important in today's job market?

Do you feel that in today's economic environment, that it is more important to be certified in SQL Server than ever? Are employers using certification to help them make their hiring decisions more than in the past? Or, does experience always win out over certification, even in tough economic times?

dbacareercertification
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Steve Jones - Editor avatar image
Steve Jones - Editor answered

You can spin it either way. If you have experience, then you've proven yourself. I'm not sure you get any benefit from the letters after your name. Someone might say "prove it" and if that's the case, then you can always take the test. If you have experience, and study a little, you should be able to pass.

If you don't have much experience, then you can take the test and show that you're learning, and have proven it.

The test doesn't measure how you will do in a job, but it does show that you have some knowledge and you're willing to study and learn. Not a recipe for success, but an ingredient.

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"Not a recipe for success, but an ingredient" - Nice phrase, I'll be using that one :-)
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Jack Corbett avatar image
Jack Corbett answered

Stock DBA answer, "It Depends". Certification shows that you can pass the test and experience shows that you've been able to "hang on", but neither is the be all end all. I think certification, just like the right degree, can help get your foot in the door, but if I have to choose between the certified person who interviewed well, and the experienced person who interviewed will, I'd go with experience, and I think most employers will.

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Matt Whitfield avatar image
Matt Whitfield answered

Personally I have interviewed several certified candidates who, upon taking a test designed to examine their real-world knowledge, failed dismally. Vice versa, I have interviewed a few who weren't certified and aced it.

I think certification can help with that hiring decision, as Jack says, but I think anyone who hired based on certification alone would be quite foolish...

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Kev Riley avatar image
Kev Riley answered

As a DBA of 10 years, never having any certification, I am likely to be biased in this.

With the usefulness of hindsight, I can see how the path to certification (not just the certification alone) would have possible helpd me to understand those areas of SQL Server that I don't use day-in, day-out. But apart from that, not having a cert hasn't held me back at all.

It would be foolish for employers to ONLY consider those with a certification, and there are ones out there like that. Strangely enough, they are struggling to 'find' people.

I struggle sometimes to 'value' certification, as I'm sure we've all met people with a list of certifications as long as your arm, but who wouldn't last one minute in the real world. Not saying that everyone who has a cert is like that, it's just that it seems easy enough to get one without real experience as long as you have enough time, money and access to exam dumps! It kinda de-values the whole concept.

Maybe one day I will go down the certification path, probably when someone else is paying :)

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TimothyAWiseman avatar image
TimothyAWiseman answered

I have never known anyone to use certification as a hiring criteria, I have never used it as a hiring criteria when I was interviewing people, and I would be dubious about working for an employer that would use it as a primary hiring criteria.

With all of that said, it can be valuable as a criteria for getting the initial interview and bargaining for salary. As a resume screener I looked for them as a criteria (one criteria amoungst many, but still there), and early in my career I know it helped me get interviews. I have also been told directly, earlier in my career, during a drawn out negotiation with a company that I could get them to raise their offer if I finished my MCDBA.

All of this is especially true if dealing with a large organization. In many of those resumes get filtered through HR before going to anyone in either engineering or management. In those cases, they may be blindly looking for certain criteria with no flexibility. So if a certification was listed as a requirement an actual decision maker or engineer who knows how to really evaluate the resume will never even see it if that certification is not on there.

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Rob Farley avatar image
Rob Farley answered

Certified staff members are very important to employers looking to reach Gold Partner level. It can help them achieve data-related competencies and therefore win clients. Many employers will pay someone a little more based on that alone. It doesn't mean they know their stuff better...

...nor does going on a course. If someone has been on a course, I will ask who taught it, what they learned there, whether they keep in touch with the instructor and more. If someone is certified, I ask them why. If the answer shows that they value professional development and self-improvement, that will score well in my book more than the skill they needed to achieve a passing score.

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John Jin avatar image
John Jin answered

Agree with TimothyAWiseman, mostly the certification is not a primary hiring criteria. But it will help you to get more interviews.

From the otherside, I think getting Certification is helpful to improve my skills and widen my eyes.

I had some years of experiance and am working at a senior position (.Net/SQL). But I still keep getting certification. Recently I went into the class room studied "ASP.Net 2008" / "SQL Server 2008 Administration" / "SQL Server 2005/2008 Performance Tunning and Optimization". These couses cost a lot of money. I am lucky the company paid the bill. Now I am reading some books like SQL Server 2008 Internals, and am going to take certification tests very soon.

Learning from experience is important but for me, learning from "getting certification" also brings me a lot of benefit.

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