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  • What certifications do you have?
  • Has your certification (or lack of one) ever worked for or against you?
  • Do you intend to reach out for certification?
  • Do you renew your certifications? If so, does your employer actively support the renewal?
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closed as primarily opinion-based by Mark Storey-Smith, Max Vernon, Paul White, Mike Walsh, Michael - sqlbot Nov 24 '13 at 22:01

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

13 Answers

I don't have any current database certifications; I only have the ones that my place of work requires me to have for being a sysadmin, and even those will likely lapse as I was declared to "not be a sysadmin" a couple of months ago.

Certification might help to differentiate you between different people when you're looking to get a job -- it's basically someone vouching for you, claiming that you have a given set of skills.

But if it came down to a person who's been doing stuff for years, vs. someone with a piece of paper that said they could pass a test, I'd go with the person with experience. I've seen way too many certified Oracle DBAs who had no clue what they were doing. (and when their systems started lagging like hell, refused to even look at their database until I "proved" that it wasn't something the application was doing wrong ... of course, we had to show them how to get statistics out of their database, as they had no clue -- they were glorified operators, making sure backups ran, and occassionally adding accounts for new users).

At one point, my work had set me up with an account on BrainBench, as I was required to get third-party certification avery few years in addition to my place of work's annual computer security tests. In a few weeks I had managed to pass over 70 tests, which then meant I got 'job role certificates' in over 2 dozen roles. I even managed to pass tests for software I had never used before (eg, Checkpoint Firewall-1), and some of the tests I really wonder about (why does a test on websever administration ask questions about SMTP headers, but none about HTTP headers?).

...

So, to confuse matters -- I'm a contractor for the US Federal government. My employeer (the contracting company) wants me to have lots of certifications to make me look impressive as they use my resume to try to get more work for the company. My place of work (government) just wants me to be able to do the job, and couldn't care less if I was certified or not. If I need a new skill, I can get the time from my place of work, and the funding from one of the two to take classes ... but I haven't needed to in 6+ years.

If I want to take classes, just for the hell of it, so long as I can justify it benefitting my work, my employeer will pay out of my 'education benefit' (which right now is halved as we're within 12 months of our contract's end date), but I'd have to either get separate permission from my ATR (the civil servant I report to) if he's willing to cover my time, or if it's okay to take off during the middle of the day (like I did when I was working on my Master's degree)

...

So, to answer the questions:

  1. Wilton Cake Decorating, levels 1-3
  2. They might've helped me land my last job that I had a long list, but none were directly applicable to the job I was hired to perform. (at the time, Oracle, Sun iMS, LDAP, etc.)
  3. No, but my employeer would if I wanted to.
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I do have Oracle certification, and I am currently passing a PostgreSQL one.

To be honest, I do them more for the companies outside than for myself.

Lot of people out there with no certification are way better than I am, but some traditional companies still pretty strict and just look at the certification. So I do them for not having closed doors in front of me.

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+1 for honesty. Recruiters do often use certification as a filter, because they don't actually understand what they're looking for. –  APC Aug 11 '13 at 7:21
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I became a MySQL 5.0 Certified DBA (CMDBA later changed to SCMDBA) back on August 11, 2007.

While I never personally met or know of any person who got a raise because the person became certified, that was never my incentive from the start.

I wanted to be taken seriously as a DBA. I had made the transition from a Developer to a Developer/DBA, starting with MySQL 4.0 back in August 2004. I picked up several books along the way, including:

Once I was certified, I was better respected by my peers and my boss.

When I switched to my new career as a DBA, working for my past employer doing Managed Database Services, I was given the title of Senior MySQL DBA very quickly because I exercised my skills developed by the certification process.

Other databases that give certifications may require certifying for the latest major releases. This cuts down having the big companies (like Oracle and Microsoft) do tons of support work by demanding DBAs keep up with the products. However, this just reinforces a DBA's drive to excel in Database Administration. Although I only certified for MySQL 5.0, I strive to keep up with MySQL 5.1, 5.5, 5.6, and Percona Server.

In light of all this, the value of certification is directly proportional to the value you put into it. After all, certification is not graduation. Certification is really nothing more than a disciplined approach to being self-taught. The MySQL Certification served as my springboard in the direction of on-going self-education.

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I did some Oracle security training a while ago, ending up with a certificate. The training wasn't interesting because of the piece of paper, but much more because of the topics covered.

This is actually the point & the main question is about peoples mindset. If a certification means you will spend the time to learn about the commands & details because else you won't, then do it and get some. If your interest is high enough for your job (a "situation" happening to many geeks ;-)), then you will most of the time have good mindset for doing this job without any problems.

Whatever you are, nothing will save you properly against a disk crash, corrupted table-spaces, inefficient query debugging or $insertWhatMostDbasWorkAroundEveryDay. It might make things easier if you know where to fix what and so on.

Whether u are certified or not, the difficulty in remembering all the various tweaks and commands around your DB system stays same.

Lastly, in case of Oracle, you might need to check if a certified buyer can get discounts or not. Not sure if Microsoft has a similar policy.

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This is a forked question, but I will attempt to answer the first two, from the SQL Server perspective only.

What certifications do you have?

None.

Has your certification, of lack of one, ever worked for, or against, you?

Not for or against me. But I will advise on one danger of getting the certs as some kind of proof that you know the material: passing the exam doesn't make you an expert. There is some obvious bits to that - the bar for passing is low to start with, and it's pretty hard to get a LOT of multiple choice questions wrong when they are filled with obviously incorrect choices. Never mind the brain dumps and other study aids out there that help you pass the exams via memory vs. knowledge and without ever touching SQL Server. But let me explain the non-obvious bits...

Several years ago I went through several hiring phases where we were trying to find a DBA. When we first started our search, resumes with MCSE, MCDBA etc. floated to the top of the pile. We phone screened some of these people and brought a few dozen in. Not one good candidate. Table designs you wouldn't believe. Wild left-field theories about how indexes work. A couple were so inexperienced with SQL Server that I suggested they take SQL Server off their resume.

Now, it may be the case that a lot of these candidates had the certs on their resume even though they hadn't earned them, either outright lying or perhaps pushed by the recruiter due to the job specs (maybe even without the candidates' knowledge). But the end result was, after spending dozens of wasted hours interviewing people who could barely spell SQL, the resumes with certs listed started floating to the bottom of the pile. So I am sure we missed out on some good candidates who had certs, but at the end of the day, having those certs hurt them rather than helped. And I know I am not the only person in a company who shifted their impression of certs once the brain dump boomerang swung back around.

There are certs that are the exception (Master/Architect), and I'd like to think that the MCSA/MCSE exams are a little tougher to fool with only a passing knowledge of SQL Server. So don't take from this that I think certs are worthless. Just that, at least for a period of time, companies were placing a lower priority on candidates with the lower-end certs.

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I'm not certified at all! I kind of fell into DBA work. But, I haven't found my lack of certification working against me. I've learned most everything on the job. I do think that my employer would support my getting certified, though it's not a priority.

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My previous employer would pay a $500 bonus for each relevant certification exam passed, plus another bonus for getting one of the MCPD/MCSE/OCP types of certifications. The Microsoft certs don't expire, but they do come out with certs for each technology track. Maybe it is just me, or my experience, but I find that a lot of prospective employers don't give a lot of credit/weight towards certifications. That being said, I plan to keep mine up to date with my own money, and as I'm working part-time on another bachelors, the student priced exams help my money go a lot further.

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I currently hold 12 Microsoft certifications related to Microsoft SQL Server. I keep them up to date mostly because I get bored so taking the tests is something to do to kill an afternoon.

I couldn't tell you if having certs has helped me or not.

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In my experience certifications do not help you much if you already have a job. However, they can be helpful if you are looking for a job. They are also helpful if you do consulting or contracting work, because some contracts (especially government contracts) require certifications.

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I am a completely certification free zone, although some might describe me as certifiable. Hasn't hurt my career in the slightest, but I have worked for a couple of MS gold partner companies where there was a requirement to have a minimum level of certified staff in order to keep the gold partner status.

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The beauty of the certifications is in the eye of the beholder. Some companies can be color-blind to it and just know a good DBA when they see one. +1 !!! –  RolandoMySQLDBA Aug 9 '13 at 15:42
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In 1995 I was MSCE, when it was quite new. Here in Germany certification might help young or unemployed persons to find a job. Training for such certification is in some cases promoted by the "Bundesagentur für Arbeit".

The benefit in knowledge you gain in preparation for certification is low.

I remember been told that SQL-Server 4.2 had some way of mirroring its files and Windows NT 3.0 had such a feature too. No hint given which option to choose.

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  • I have passed 11 MS exams. But the latest one i got is MCITP: Databes Developer 2008.

  • Lack of certification never worked against me, but I have had a feeling, that it helps sometimes. They are good for company: to get MS Gold partner status, to show clients have certified employees, to show boss that we are learning. They are good for me: I do prepare for exam by reading about technology. I am not using all features, this is one way how I discover and learn new things and get deeper knowledge about other I already know. I do agree with Aaron Bertrand, certificate by no means makes person better (more professional), it is attitude and experience that meters.

  • I do intend to pass other exams as well. Not because someone asks for that (no touchable bonuses for that, no one forces me to get them). Because that is the way I learn and check my knowledge.

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I currently hold 2 SQL Server certifications, a PMP, and some other certifications.

I don't know that my certifications have ever worked against me. They have help the organizations I work for with their marketing efforts and partnership levels. They have also set some sort of basic knowledge level when discussing a topic with a new contact/client. I have worded that part specifically to say basic. Having a certification does not mean anyone is an expert, it just sets some level set for the conversation.

I will continue to reach out for certifications as they will continue to help the organizations I work for. I also find learning new material challenging and testing my self fun. (I know that makes me strange).

I do plan to renew/upgrade my certifications for all of the reasons above. I would never work for an organization that didn't support the development of their employees, so yes they do.

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