Ever since I decided to jump into the SQL Server water, I have been actively learning SQL Server from books, BOL (Microsoft Book-On-Line), user groups, bloggers and last but not least, through certification.
Microsoft certification exam cover wide range of skills to be measured based on level of technology expertise. For example, Exam 70-450 PRO: Designing, optimizing and maintaining a database administrative solution using Microsoft SQL Server 2008 cover topics includes SQL server instance design, database solution, security, high availability, backup and recovery, monitoring, maintenance and data distribution. For this specific exam, there is no particular study material or books prepared for this. There may be some third party training courses marketed as studied material for this exam, but I think the best way to prepare for the exam is with personal hand-on experience and learn it yourself. I blog here that student or professional could download free evaluation copy of SQL Server (if you don't have access to the paid version) and learn it at home. I like to apply what I learn on the SQL Server and see it myself. That improve my understanding and a lot of times, let me grasp a better understanding of it. Another reason I think certification is a good way of learning because it lets you discover different aspects of a technology (in my case SQL Server). SQL Server has so many elements and a lot of times DBA (database administrator) only use a portion of it for their day to day operation. Through certification, you are forced/prompted to know all of them. I encourage everyone to get certified. Here are some of the other benefits to be certified, for yourself and your employer.
I am glad that I am now certified as Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) - Database Administrator 2008. It's about time for me to start digging new technology.
SQL Server 2012, here I come!