Roadmap to Success: MCSA: SQL Server 2012/2014 Certification
Roadmap to Success is a series of posts designed to help learners better understand certification pathways, career opportunities associated with those certifications, and next steps beyond certification.
The Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) SQL Server 2012/2014 certification is the foundation for many learners to become a database master. Generally, this certification will equip learners to demonstrate essential skills in developing and maintaining SQL Server, including querying and administering SQL Server 2012/2014 and SQL Server 2012/2014 databases, as well as implementing data warehouses.
SQL Server 2012 vs 2014
The differences between SQL Server 2014 and SQL Server 2012 were mostly performance updates, including the addition of in-memory online transaction processing (OLTP). Other improvements include updateable columnstore indexes, Windows Azure integration, and improved security permissions. Other improvements are detailed on the Microsoft website.
Microsoft evaluated the 70-461 exam In December 2015 to determine applicability for both SQL Server 2012 and SQL Server 2014. It was determined that no updates to exam objectives were required.
SQL Server database administrators, system engineers, and developers with two or more years of experience will be able to validate their skills and knowledge on SQL Server 2012 or SQL Server 2014.
Microsoft certifications are laid out as a pyramid, with each level of certification leading learners to higher, more specialized, complex certifications. At the base of the Microsoft pyramid, IT professionals develop the foundation of knowledge with the MTA (Microsoft Technology Associate). The next level is the MCSA (Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate) and MCSD (Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer), which include many of the most popular certifications among IT professionals that are offered by Microsoft, including Server 2012, Office 365, and Azure. Finally, the MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solution Expert) represents the highest level of certification offered by Microsoft and provides learners the opportunity to develop specializations related to MCSA-level content.
As Microsoft describes it, the new MCSE and MCSD certifications (MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, MCSE: Mobility, MCSE: Data Management and Analytics, MCSE: Productivity, and MCSD: AppBuilder) are aligned to Centers of Excellence, used by the Microsoft Partner Network to identify technical competencies that are widely recognizable by both Microsoft partners and customers. These credentials do not have a recertification requirement. Instead, the achievement date signifies how you keep up with changes to the technology.
MSCA Recertification and Renewal
You are not required to renew an MCSA certification. Each year, you have the opportunity to renew the certification by passing an exam from the list of electives, demonstrating your investment in broadening or deepening your skills in a given Center of Excellence.
Each time you earn the certification, a new certification entry is added to your transcript. This process replaces the existing recertification requirement of taking a specific recertification exam every two years (MCSD) or every three years (MCSE) to prevent your certification from going inactive. Learn more about the new Microsoft certification structure.
Begin exploring other Microsoft training and certification options to open up even more professional development opportunities.
Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) SQL Server 2012/2014
The Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) SQL Server 2012 is designed to affirm learners' knowledge and skills surrounding SQL Server 2012. An associate-level certification, MCSA SQL Server 2012 is made up of three exams, all of which are covered by CBT Nuggets training:
70-462 – Administering Microsoft SQL Server 2012/2014 Databases
70-463 – Implementing a Data Warehouse with Microsoft SQL Server 2012/2014
In addition to these courses, CBT Nuggets also developed virtual labs designed to help reinforce course content and provide hands-on experience. Typically, learners pursuing this certification should have two (2) or more years of experience writing queries.
MCSA: SQL Server 2012 Exam Details and Costs
Pearson, the testing center that usually provides Microsoft exams, offers a great "Exam Profile" series that addresses nearly all the MCSA: SQL Server 2012/2014 exams.
70-461 Exam Profile
70-462 Exam Profile
70-463 Exam Profile
However, the following exam details are applicable for each exam that makes up the MCSA: SQL Server 2012/2014 certification.
Time allotted for exam: 2 hours (120 minutes) per exam Number of questions: 45-55* per exam Passing score: 700** per exam Question types: Multiple choice/single answer; multiple choice/multiple answer; scenario Exam registration: Pearson Vue or Microsoft Learning Exam cost: $165 (USD) per exam Exam day logistics: On testing day, you're required to bring two forms of original (no photocopies), valid (unexpired) IDs — one must be a primary ID (government-issued with name, photo, and signature) and one secondary ID (with only name required).
You will be provided with an erasable note board and marker that can be used during your exam. Most personal items, including cell phones, watches, and food and beverage, are not permitted in the testing center. Here's a list of all prohibited items and other Pearson Vue testing center rules.
Skills Measured: Each exam registration page on the Microsoft website provides a list of Skills Measured (free resource) to guide your study and preparation.
*Microsoft does not publish the exact number of questions associated with its exams. Therefore, the number of questions a learner will see varies on a case-by-case basis. **Because the number of questions varies, it is not necessarily true that learners must earn a simple 70 percent to pass the exam.
Microsoft exams have a reputation for being challenging. Many learners find they have to take an exam more than once to achieve a successful outcome. Fortunately, Microsoft is aware of the level of challenge associated with their exams and often provides an Exam Replay, allowing learners to retake exams at a fraction of the cost. Please note that the Exam Replay may not always be available. As of this post's publication date, each of the exams associated with the MCSA: SQL Server 2012/2014 certification offers the option to include Exam Replay, but that may change. Learners should research Exam Replay availability to avoid missing out on the opportunity.
MSCA and MCSE Certification Path
Many learners who earn MCSA SQL Server 2012/2014 certification choose to continue down the Microsoft path. Therefore, learners often choose to pursue the MCSE as a next step. Following the MCSA SQL Server 2012/2014, learners typically choose a certification related to database technology, the MCSE Data Management and Analytics (made up of one exam of your choice: (70-473, 70-475, 70-464, 70-465, 70-466, or 70-467).
Learners should also consider diversifying their certification resume with other, related Microsoft certs:
Microsoft MCSA: Windows Server 2012 (made up of three exams: 70-410, 70-411, and 70-412); and/or Microsoft MCSA: Windows Server 2016 (made up of three exams: 70-740, 70-741, and 70-742)
Microsoft MCSA: Linux on Azure (made up of two exams: 70-533 and LFCS)
Microsoft MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure (choose one exam of your choice: 70-413, 70-414, 70-744, 70-532, 70-533, or 70-534)
Related certification options outside the Microsoft realm include:
Google Qualified Cloud SQL Developer (made up of one exam: CPE303)
Oracle Database Administration (made up of one exam: 1Z0-053)
As Microsoft continues to embrace open source, learners should consider adding Linux skills to their resume in order to more deeply understand the evolution of Microsoft technologies and functionalities. With this in mind, consider earning these Linux certifications:
Linux Essentials (made up of just one exam: 010-150)
CompTIA Linux+/LPIC-1 (made up of two exams: LX0-103 and LX0-104)
LPI LPIC-2 (made up of two exams: 201-400* and 202-400*)
*Please note that LPI recently released v4.5 of the LPIC-2 certification. The updated certification is made up of the 201-405 and 202-405 exams, but v4.0 exams (201-400 and 202-400) will be available until August 1, 2017.
Career Path and Salary Considerations
Payscale.com/ provides information that can help learners determine appropriate pay scales for job opportunities associated with an MCSA certification. Depending on experience, an employee who holds any MCSA certification can earn anywhere between $43,088 and $137,560 annually. Common roles or titles for those who hold an MCSA SQL Server 2012/2014 certification include database designer, database developer, database administrator, IT manager, IT director, systems administrator, and senior systems engineer.
Getting Starting with MCSA: SQL Server 2012/2014 Certification Training
The MCSA SQL Server 2012/2014 certification is an excellent entry point for learners looking to advance their careers and skills in developing and maintaining SQL Server and databases. This certification will likely open up new professional opportunities.
Take the first step toward your MCSA SQL Server 2012/2014 certification today!
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