If you are trying to pass exam 70-431 or upgrade with 70-431 and 70-447...We now have 6 Microsoft Press titles (including the 431 training kit) for 30% off in addition to the discount on all related E-learning titles & practice tests I poasted about earlier. The offer details (promo codes and links, etc) are buried a little on the prep guides in the Preparation Tools and Resources sections: 70-431 and 70-447that is a great marketing strategy, I think—hide the offers! So no one can find them! Excellent.

If you're not sure whether you should be trying to pass 431 or 447 (I don’t have any intention of passing either, for the record), here is some background.

If you work on SQL Server 2005, or will be moving to it soon, then you might consider earning the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS): SQL Server 2005 certification. This cert requires one exam (70-431), and as the name implies, is 100% focused on technology skills. It is also a pre-requisite to earn the professional-series credentials, if that is your intent.

The professional-series (Microsoft Certified IT Professional or MCITP) are intended to help you demonstrate job-role skills on top of the technology skills. I.e. I know how SQL works and I can use it to get the job done. These are not the end-goal for everyone, but they do require additional exams and a different skill set on top of the MCTS. The path are pretty straightforward, and we’ve added dev and business intelligence as specific focus areas: 

  1. MCITP: Database Developer (pass 431, take 441 and 442)
  2. MCITP: Database Administrator (pass 431, take 443 and 444)
  3. If you are MCDBA, your path to MCITP: DBA is just two exams: 431 and 447.
  4. If you are focused on Business Intelligence, that is a separate two-exam path (445 and 446--no 431 required).

What's different from MCDBA, our certification for prior versions of SQL? Well, right off the bat you can see that the path to a technology-specific certification is shorter. One exam to MCTS. Although it is also only one exam to earn an MCP certification along the way to your four-exam MCDBA, we have heard from customers and employers that MCP alone doesn't provide enough information. MCTS: SQL Server 2005, on the other hand, makes it pretty clear what skills the holder has; very specific certification and a short path to get there. (On the down side, yes, it is a lot more wordy than "MCP"...).

To earn your MCITP: DBA you have a total run of three exams vs. the four required for MCDBA. The intent is that if you are focused in one area, you can stick to that for your certification and not expend energy on unrelated areas or try to pass tests on areas that you don't work in. On the other hand, if it makes sense for you to show your skills on a range of job-roles, you can do that, too. I hope I didn’t muddle this more. If I did, clear your mind listening to Rob Linsky explain it in our SQL live meeting (find the link here).