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I'm planning on getting certification in Database Development for SQL Server (MSTC - 70-433). I'm a junior level report writer at a new job and the company is offering to pay the majority, if not all, of training course fees. The course is five days.

I noticed that MS has a self-paced training kit (book) that I could use. I'm wondering if this would be a better option because it will allow me to go as quick as possible.

I've also heard about video training sessions ( but they seem to go at slow pace.

My questions are:

  1. What should I expect at a certification course? Is it hands-on training? Small classes with personal feedback or not?

  2. Would I be better off learning at my own pace using the training kit?

(I'd rather this not turn into a certifications are pointless discussion..)

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marked as duplicate by MichaelT, World Engineer Apr 22 '13 at 2:56

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

9 Answers 9

As most would say "it's icing on the cake". but a certification is never going to replace a Degree or Work Experience in the subject at hand. Especially with SQL your handling sensitive data, they aren't just gonna say "Oh you have a certification, welcome aboard".

HOWEVER, if it was between two different people, same qualifications, the certification might be that little bit that stands out. Oh btw avoid the "Self-Paced" Training kits. I studied for the 432 and 433 and quite frankly they are pretty bad. There are other far better books. Also check out the nuggets training videos, they are really good.

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I would take the Class.

It's 5 days dedicated to learning, away from the office (Paid). If you go self paced you will most likely have to do it on your time, over several months.

Take the the Course, get the cert, Then supplement with self training as needed.

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The thing to remember about the classes however, is that they cram all this information into you to pass the test...however when it comes to the real world work I dont think a class is gonna cut it, however if your just wanting to pass the exam....i can see a class as an EXPENSIVE way of doing that. – user6791 Mar 10 '11 at 17:04
A live instructor allows beginners to ask questions to get a better understanding of concepts they may not grasp at first from a book. – JeffO Mar 10 '11 at 17:32
How large are the classes, typically? – Bill Williams Mar 10 '11 at 19:02

I've done both (1) and (2) (different exam mind you), and I found learning by myself using a book more fulfilling. Also when I passed it was one of the best feelings that I had in years (I guess I don't get out much, lol).

What I did like about attending lessons was the networking between people, but I found the pace of the course too fast.

I would say buy the books and learn. Book an exam and set yourself goals.

Good Luck.

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You absolutely should take the cert - I haven't had the training classes, but the books were great. If your really interested, do both.

I've worked with plenty of people with years of experience that couldn't code their way out of a paper bag. You'd be surprised how much you can get accomplished with hundreds of poorly written if statements and absolutely no inkling of architecture. I'm sure there are also people that pass the cert that are not the best developers but at least the certs prove a certain level of competency, and more importantly that you care.

I went the self-paced route for the 536 & 562 exams and I thought they were both excellent. Everything you would expect a junior - mid level developer to know was covered. While a degree is great for covering theory, the certification is more about real world job skills.

I'm a big fan of having new candidates code during the interview and I think a cert serves as an even better replacement for that.

Also, a certification shows to me is that you have a passion for what you are doing and are willing to go an extra step. That is huge when making a hiring decision.

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Please explain how taking a couple of certification courses improve one's ability to generate better code? The ability to write well-constructed and factored code is innate to the person. No cookbook approach to software development has ever resulted in a code base that makes one go "Wow, that's a beautifully constructed piece of software." The key to good software lies in the Latin root for the word engineer; namely, ingenium, which is also the root for the English word ingenuity. People either possess this quality or they do not. – bit-twiddler Mar 10 '11 at 20:51

Jump all over the paid for 5 day class, but review the book first so you can ask questions to get explanations of concepts you may not fully grasp. Take advantage of this.

You'll need to study the book and "DO ALL THE EXERCISES" especially if they are not part of your job. I develop on SQL Server a lot, but do little DBA work. I'm more fluent in writing procs than creating backup scripts.

When you get to later exams you probably won't need an instructor lead class, but for the first time with a new technology, jump all over it. As far as certification, some companies are big on it. May make it easier for your boss to justify giving you a promotion within the company.

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+1 for "DO ALL THE EXERCISES" – Evan Mar 10 '11 at 19:22

In my humble opinion, software development certifications are only useful as toilet paper. They do not test one's ability to create intellectual property in response to a need (that's what separates software development from IT). The only thing that can test one's ability to perform this task is an established track record.

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If your company is/wants to be a MS certified partner, then employees taking exams looks great for them (sometimes it's even mandatory iirc). Doing something that makes your company look good, makes you look really good. If it's paid for then it's a win all over.

  • Company looks good
  • You look good
  • Learn useful info
  • Pad your resume
  • Potentially become better at your job
  • Potentially higher wages at your job
  • Better hiring chances at future jobs

Do it.

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About the course, if the company is going to pay for a good portion of it, then take it. But take it for the course, not the certification.

So many times over the last 20+ years, I have worked with and interviewed people with certificates up the wazoo who know nothing about the subject matter. As someone said, a cert is just toilet paper. On a prospective resume, I'd rather see a listing of courses taken than certificates "awarded".

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Certificates help You if You don't have the drive to learn on Your own basis. That said I think they are useful because they make You grow. And in this profession You cannot be successfull if You do not constantly learn. You need to explore new Ideas, test them and implement. IF the course is going to help You. Take IT hands down!

What I would recommend and what will profit You much more is to take certs for fun (they can really be fun I take 2 every year just to refresh my knowledge on SQL:D) and develop a habit of constant learning.

Read BLOGS! (use google reader or twitter or something like that to develop your daily/weekly blogroll) REad books (there are tons of nice publications really really worth reading (SQL fundamentals series on SQL server springs to mind) Go for meetups, focus gruups in Your city, talk to fellow devs.

And Believe me You will becoming a great dev very soon. Also You will land great jobs.

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