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Microsoft SQL Certification and Training Options

Microsoft SQL is a database management software used across public and private sectors. Certification programs are offered at two levels, MCSA or MCSE.

Essential Information

Database administrators, developers and analysts who have entry-level Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certifications or experience working with SQL servers can enhance their professional images and employment opportunities by obtaining the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) and Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) credentials in this area.

Related training programs offered by postsecondary schools and other Microsoft training partners can prepare individuals to sit for the required certification examinations. MCSA training programs typically offer online instruction, and students have up to a year to complete the self-guided coursework. Training for an MCSE credential takes place on-campus and usually lasts a few weeks. After completing these training programs, students must pass a series of exams. The exams are administered by Prometric at a variety of testing centers and schools across the country.


Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate Training

The Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) is the first credential available to IT professionals looking to pursue certifications in SQL Server 2008 or 2012. Preparation for the required exams is available at community colleges as well as through universities' continuing education departments. Training usually takes the form of online test prep courses, though campus-based programs are also available. This certification requires students to pass three tests before earning the MCSA credential.

MCSA test prep programs often consist of around three courses, depending on which version of SQL students intend on studying. Topics of discussion include the following:

  • Database implementation and maintenance
  • Business intelligence development
  • Querying Microsoft servers
  • Database administration
  • Data warehouse implementation

Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert Training

The Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) is the next level of certification available to MCSAs. Opportunities to specialize in SQL are found in the data platform and business intelligence tracks. However, these specializations focus on the use of SQL Server 2012. Candidates with SQL Server 2008 certification will need to upgrade their MCSA credentials by taking a two-part series of exams before moving on to earn the MCSE.

Training for MCSE data platform and business intelligence certification is available through on-site test prep programs offered by postsecondary institutions. Courses help students build on their previous knowledge to design databases that meet organizations' data reporting needs. After completing these training programs, students will need to pass five exams to earn certification.

Some programs include introductory courses that mirror those found in an MCSA program. Courses designed to prepare students for certification exams unique to MCSE specialization areas cover the following topics:

  • Database development
  • Database solutions design
  • Business intelligence solutions

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Receiving an MCSA certification in SQL Server 2008 or 2012 prepares recipients to work as database administrators or analysts. In general, database administrators also need to have earned a bachelor's degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of database administrators was projected to increase 11% from 2014-2024, due in large part to the data storage and retrieval needs of organizations. Database administrators earned a median annual salary of $81,710 as of May 2015, per the BLS.

Popular Career Options

IT professionals who possess the education and training necessary to earn MCSE certification in the areas of data platform and business intelligence can pursue positions as:

  • Database designers
  • Database analysts
  • Business intelligence engineers

Continuing Education Information

Unlike MCSA credentials, which don't require recertification and remain valid as long as Microsoft supports SQL Server 2008 or 2012 software, MCSE certification will need to be renewed every three years. This entails passing a recertification exam.

To summarize, there are two levels of Microsoft SQL training. After earning MCSA certification in SQL Server 2008 or 2012, IT professionals can upgrade their credentials and earn the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) designation.


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