Certifications are Dead- Long Live Certifications!

This months’ T-SQL Tuesday is being hosted by Alex Yates on the topic of Changing Your Mind. Thanks Alex!

Opening Thoughts

Over the years I have had a love/hate relationship with certifications. I love the discipline required to complete formal education. The hard work one has to do in order to finish something is within one’s own control. Then there is the issue of cost and time. Today it seems like Microsoft has chosen to emphasize just in time learning in the form of micro-courses vs long and formal study paths.

Failed MCDBA – Twice

Back in the day, shortly after graduate school, I wanted to continue my formal education and work on this certification stuff. At the time there was this certification called Microsoft Certified Database Administrator – MCDBA. Sadly I didn’t have a lot of experience at the time working with SQL Server and I was focused on using the GUI (instead of knowing the T-SQL behind it) and I failed the test- twice. I was burned out and disillusioned from that experience- I thought I really knew the material. I read the books and worked the examples. After that I started digging into T-SQL more and more behind the scenes and relying less on the GUI.

Enter Stage Left- The Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP)

After the death of the MCDBA certification, we saw the rise of a new cert, the MCITP- Database Development or Database Administration path. I was still buying and reading a lot of books that were more pertinent to my job and work. It wasn’t until I decided to work on getting some certs (SQL2012) that I began to study for them again. Long story short- I went in cold to test my level of understanding with the expectation I would fail both tests then study what I was weak on then take them for real, a second time. I barely passed both on the first try (!) and was struck with this odd feeling that I hadn’t earned it because I hadn’t studied for it. I did however have years of experience but it just didn’t feel like a planting the flag victory like I wanted.

Other Deaths

Death of the Microsoft Certified Master program (and dreams of that too), death of Microsoft Press titles by Microsoft employees, death of MCITP and finally death of my dream of data scientist via the Microsoft Professional Program (MPP).

If I had a lot of money, I would take an on-line degree program like this one in data science offered by a university.

Note this also happens to be the same school that we are hosting for SQL Saturday Denver #908 this weekend.

One Academy Dies While Another Flourishes

The website for MPP was https://academy.microsoft.com so who knows if they will maintain that URL. In other news, Microsoft Learn is the new destination for all content, which is free. AWESOME! The paid for content is on Pluralsight and mostly focused on Azure- there has been a plethora of courses recently released on it, all based on this new concept of roles. I have been an avid fan of Pluralsight and will continue to do so.

I am into Unreal Engine as some of you are aware. Their site is chock full of great and free content and continues to grow: https://academy.unrealengine.com (a free login is required to access that site).

Interesting to me that both companies, Microsoft and Epic Games are now spending a lot of money developing courses that we can take for free.

Closing Thoughts

Technology is changing so fast that courses and documentation are having a harder and harder time to keep up. As a result, the number of technical books being published is declining compared to years past. Companies are pushing nano, micro, call it whatever VERY short courses (measured in hours) when compared to formal college level courses (measured in several weeks). Are the new role-based certifications/course completion badges & bling in my future? Time will tell. I must say I do like the short format in sections as it fits my pomodoro style of learning and attention span. Is my mind changed on certifications? It would seem that bigger forces outside of my control have already changed it for me. We are now living in an age where one can’t just be one thing- there is no longer such a thing as a pure DBA or T-SQL developer. We are being forced to perform multiple roles in order to try to stay ahead and continue to build and grow in our careers.

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