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By Paul Egan.
Early on in my IT career I remember reading an article in a magazine which asked the question, why IT professionals are not required to take exams when they are for many other skilled professions.
I think it is important to take exams for two reasons, firstly to keep skills up to date, IT is continually evolving and we have to keep up with changes. Secondly to demonstrate skill and commitment to learning and professional development to a future employer.
I started my journey to MCM certification status without actually realising it at the time. The MCM readiness videos http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sqlserver/ff977043.aspx were released at a time I was working away from home during the week. I decided that I would watch them in the evenings to improve my SQL Server skills - they are excellent free training and I have recommended them too many people since.
At the start of 2012 after a significant upheaval in my life I decided I needed a new challenge. It was around this time that the MCM QuickStart program was starting another run and I decided to join the program and undertake the time, work and expense for the program. Being self-employed I had no choice but to pay for this myself.
Once I was on the program I was working all the time. I was commuting to and from work on the train and either watching training videos or working my way through the long reading list at www.sqlskills.com/mcm.asp . At home in the evenings I was also putting in a couple of hours work to try and cover as much as possible.
I took the MCM knowledge exam in June 2012, I thought it was a hard exam and I wasn’t sure I had passed it. My results came through and I was pleasantly surprised at the mark I had achieved.
In October I made my first attempt at the lab exam. I failed this one, I think as I didn’t manage my time as well as I should have done. I did receive an encouraging email from the MCM program manager and thought myself that I could pass it.
In February 2013 I took the exam. Four weeks later as I was waiting for the Manchester SQL Server User group to start, I received an email from the program manager informing me I had passed the exam. It was a nice time to receive the notification as I was able to share my good news with my fellow SQL professionals.
It has meant a great deal to me passing the exam, knowing I have achieved one of the highest technical certifications available to SQL Professionals. I have also learnt a great deal in my journey, knowledge which I use every day. Being a freelance SQL Professional I am very hopeful that my certification will help me with new opportunities of work in the future.
I have worked in all areas of SQL Server from development, BI to infrastructure work - this is my current focus. It is quite an interesting time for SQL Server professionals with the new features of Availability Groups and the cloud offering using Windows Azure SQL Database or SQL 2012 in a Windows Azure virtual machine and I am looking forward to learning more about them.
In the future I will continue my studying and will be looking to achieve the MCSM for SQL Server 2012, the depth of knowledge required to pass this certification I am sure will make me a better SQL Professional.
Paul Egan is a Microsoft Certified Master: SQL Server 2008. He also holds certificates in the following technologies MCITP 2008 Database Administration and development, MCITP 2005 Database Administration & MCDBA SQL Server 2000.
Paul has been working with SQL Server for 14 years starting with version 7. He has worked as a developer using Visual Basic 5 & 6, .Net C# developer using SQL Server. Built and administered SQL Clusters in various environments. Designed and implement DR solutions, brought stability and performance to struggling systems and implemented systems from scratch. Paul has also built reporting solutions using SSRS using all version since the SQL 2000, built SODA applications using distributed service broker, C# and certificates as well as having developed solutions using SSIS 2005 & 2008.
That's because all IT certifications are essentially useless - they test your knowledge of a particular technology and not how well you solve problems. As an IT shop you are always after creative problem solvers and NOT the ones who demonstrate who well they know a syntax of a specific language or tools.