Is the DP-300 Worth It?
There are two kinds of people in this world: the kind who gets thrilled by what databases are capable of and how powerful they can be, and the kind who doesn't understand yet. Sure, database administration isn't for everyone, but for some people, a database is like a playground. Maybe you think you're not that kind of person, but don't rule it out just yet.
Enterprise database environments are incredible resources for companies of all types and sizes, and the men and women who are trained and certified in administering them are highly valuable members of their teams. The DP-300 is a certifying exam for Microsoft's relational database certification, and passing the exam can earn you a spot on a team of creative, curious administrators. Whether or not you're sure databases are your thing, you can read on to find out if the DP-300 is worth it for you and your career.
What Is the DP-300?
The DP-300 is the one certifying exam an administrator needs to pass to earn the Microsoft Certified: Azure Database Administrator Associate. The DP-300 is a 120-minute exam with around 40-60 questions related to associate-level database administration. Someone who passes the DP-300 has a strong sense of how to go about managing on-premises and cloud relational databases, specifically through the use of Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Azure Data Services.
The certification you earn by passing the DP-300, the Azure Database Administrator Associate (ADAA), represents a broad familiarity with planning and implementing data platform resources with Microsoft's data tools. Someone with their ADAA can implement a secure relational database environment, monitor and optimize operational resources, automate administrative tasks, and read and write T-SQL.
The DP-300 covers many different topics related to database administration, but for the most part the level of detail expected isn't especially advanced. In other words, while you do need to know about many different parts of database administration before you take the DP-300, you don't have to be an expert. Someone who passes the DP-300 wouldn't be expected to lead whole teams of administrators. Instead, they could be hired to be a reliable member of a team of administrators working to keep large database environments running effectively.
What Does the DP-300 Exam Test?
The DP-300 is the only exam needed to earn the Microsoft Certified: Azure Database Administrator Associate. There are seven exam objectives for the DP-300:
Plan and implement data platform resources
Implement a secure environment
Monitor and optimize operational resources
Optimize query performance
Perform automation of tasks
Plan and implement a High Availability and Disaster Recovery (HADR) environment
Perform administration by using T-SQL
The exam itself will only have around 40-60 questions, and you'll only have 120 minutes. At the associate level, the test will probably focus on specific knowledge rather than demonstrating ability. At the level the DP-300 is testing for, you can expect most of the questions to test whether or not you've studied and know the "book answer".
How Much Does the DP-300 Exam Cost?
The DP-300 costs $165, just like all of Microsoft's associate-level exams. The DP-300 doesn't have any prerequisites, so you can rest assured that $165 is all it'll cost you to end up earning the Microsoft Certified: Azure Database Administrator Associate. It's always a good idea to go into certifying exams with at least some formal training – you might shop around for good training courses and include the cost of those into your overall price for the DP-300.
What Experience Do You Need for the DP-300?
Technically, you can attempt the DP-300 at any point. Since there are no prerequisites, you can sign up and take the exam whenever you want. And unlike some other certifications, the Microsoft Certified: Azure Database Administrator Associate doesn't require any formal on-the-job experience before you can be certified.
That said, the DP-300 is a challenging exam that covers many different topics related to database administration. There are many courses you can find online that will familiarize you with the information you'll need to pass the exam, but there are still some things you should have experience with before you try to pass the DP-300.
First, you should know the fundamentals of Azure SQL, like deploying and configuring servers and databases. You should know how to plan and implement data platform resources with Microsoft Azure – for example how to deploy SQL Server in a virtual machine. The options that are available for protecting data in-transit and at rest should be familiar to you. You'll need a grasp on performance monitoring and what SQL Server resources Microsoft wants you to know for maintaining optimal performance. Last, you should feel comfortable with query plans and know how to diagnose problematic database designs.
Who Should Take the DP-300?
The DP-300 is a fairly specialized and challenging certification exam. Database administrators, data analysts and data management specialists who need to validate their knowledge or their work experience should take the DP-300. Anyone who works in a large enterprise organization and would benefit from specializing in Microsoft database solutions should take the DP-300 too.
DP-300 for a Database Administrator
The DP-300 is most worth it for database administrators, as they're the ones who are most often responsible for things like monitoring database performance and backing up databases. If you work as a database administrator for a company with a large Microsoft footprint, the DP-300 seems like an obvious choice.
Passing the DP-300 and earning the Microsoft Certified: Azure Database Administrator Associate is also a good way to set yourself apart and make your resume rise to the top. The ADAA is a highly respected certification, employers and managers know that someone who earns it can be trusted with practically any administration task. So if you're trying to rise through the ranks of a large team of administrators or you're trying to land your first gig on an Azure team, the DP-300 is worth it for you.
DP-300 for a Data Analyst
The DP-300 is probably worth it for many data analysts, but a few things go into the decision. First, you should research other certifications that are more focused on data analysis specifically and decide if you need one that's so focused on hands-on administration. Nevertheless, knowing how to perform database configuration and deployment will make you a more competent and capable data analyst.
The DP-300 could be worth it for a data analyst who wants to expand their familiarity and competence beyond the tasks and hurdles directly in front of them. In other words, with the skills you'll gain preparing for the DP-300, you'll know how to dig in to a database for yourself, navigate to datasets on your own, and extract information that others may not know to look for. In many ways, the DP-300 is probably too technical to be useful for many data analysts, but there's no harm in expanding and deepening your capabilities.
DP-300 for a Data Management Specialist
Yes, the DP-300 is worth it for a data management specialist. It's particularly worth it for data management specialists who want to expand their skill set and knowledge base and justify a promotion upwards to greater responsibility or sideways into more technical responsibilities. The DP-300 covers technical knowledge administering enterprise databases in the Azure environment, a data management specialist who earns it will have much more control over the databases they navigate and extract data from.
Is the DP-300 Worth It?
The DP-300 is technical and specific, but for someone who uses Azure or manages enterprise database environments, it's very worth it. The Microsoft Certified: Azure Database Administrator Associate is a trusted certificate that tells an employer you're familiar with the tools and resources Microsoft expects a good administrator to know.
Using DP-300 to Learn Skills
The nice thing about certifying exams like the DP-300 is that they're laid out very logically and organized categorically. So as you prepare to take the DP-300, you'll proceed through all the skills and knowledge that an associate Azure database administrator should know. Some of it you'll already be familiar with, but plenty of it should be new. At the very least, you'll learn what Microsoft considers "by the book".
That's why using the DP-300 to learn skills doesn't just lead to earning the certificate, but actually will make you a better administrator. That's one of the many reasons employers like seeing certifications on a resume.
Using DP-300 to Validate Skills
Some people are dismissive of certifications. They call them nothing more than a piece of paper that tells an employer you passed a test. But if that test was developed by Microsoft to tell whether or not an administrator knows how to manage their databases, and your employer is already trusting Microsoft with their database needs, wouldn't that piece of paper be valuable?
Using the DP-300 to validate skills is a great way to advance your career and prove that you've been paying attention during those on-the-job training sessions.