Microsoft Relaxes Training, Exam Requirements for SQL Server Masters Credential

Vendor allows testing without training, lowers cost by thousands, expects changes to triple number of people earning badge in next year.

November 19, 2010

D.H. Kass

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Microsoft Corp. recently said that it will relax training and testing requirements associated with its SQL Server Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) certificate, making the exams available in nine countries and allowing candidates to bypass training.

To earn the certificate, candidates now must pass two exams, a Knowledge exam and a Lab Exam, encompassing a total of about 10 hours time and costing about $2,500, the company said. Both exams will be offered early next year and training is not mandated.

Previously, four exams were required as part of a three-week training and certification program offered only at the company’s headquarters in Redmond, WA, at a cost of $18,500 plus travel.

The changes to the program could triple the number of people earning the SQL Server MCM certification in the next year, officials said. The SQL Server MCM badge, historically confined to Microsoft employees, has been offered outside of the company since 2008 and only a handful of non-employees have earned it, officials said.

“We are assuring the same excellent rigor and quality of our certification program, but making it more available and more affordable,” said Don Field, Microsoft Learning senior director, certification programs.

“There was a demand for certification options for people who feel they are prepared for the test without needing the full three weeks of training,” he said.

SQL Server professionals interested in undertaking training before tackling the exams will be offered free online instruction and three-day, instructor-led courses delivered by training partners, Microsoft said.

Microsoft said that the SQL Server MCM certification, which is targeted at candidates with at least five years of hands-on SQL Server experience in critical environments, is the highest status offered to SQL Server professionals.

Competencies include designing and implementing high performance, scalable enterprise environments, and troubleshooting difficult SQL Server issues.

“We expect that someone who has achieved the Master level in our program is able to deal with all of the kinds of critical and unusual partner and customer scenarios that could arise using the SQL Server product,” Field said.

One SQL Server MCM said that the credential helped him in a number of ways.

“It gave me more confidence in my skills,” said Nicolas Husson, a Pasadena, CA-based, self-employed solutions architect who earned the certification in 2009. “Customers can see that I know what I am talking about,” he said.

TAGS: Microsoft,certification,SQL Server,Microsoft Certified Master,Microsoft Learning

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