I have been working in the IT field for 25 years now and have installed SQL Server onto systems/servers, but have not been able to actually work with the product. I have some opportunity to work with some clients and have told them that I need to get some training first. My question is: If you were just starting out with SQL Server, what training would you go for? What certifications? I am wondering also if I should be just trying the 2003 Server or should I be doing the 2000 track? I've gotten some of the books for the 2000 track, but would like to advise my potential clients the best way, even though they are on a small scale (5 to 20 people).

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I'm rather ambivalent about Microsoft certifications. As a hiring manager in my own right, I never give certification a higher priority than actual work experience with the product. In addition, there's a rumor that the MCDBA certification will go through a major revamp after the release of SQL Server 2005. So I wouldn't consider the MSDBA certification until then. Having said all of that, I give the MCSE and MCSD good marks and, in the absence of work experience, count it as if it were the same as two years of experience.

Training, however, is a different issue and is very valuable. Consider taking at least two of these classes:

  • Course 2072: Administering a Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Database
  • Course 2073: Programming a Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Database
  • Course 2071: Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2000 with Transact-SQL
In addition, I recommend the classes offered by SolidQualityLearning and those offered by Kimberly Tripp. You can see Kimberly speak at the upcoming PASS conference, where she is also offering full-day pre-conference seminars.

This was first published in August 2005

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