Microsoft Certifications: I Am an MCDBA, What Are My Options for the New Generation Certifications?

If this sounds like you, then we are one and the same.  I am still sitting on my MCDBA SQL Server 2000.  Shame on me at least, but not necessarily on you.

So, what are we to do?  How can we fix this, assuming we want to fix it?  The answer is simple.  UPGRADE!  How? When? Let me tell you all about it.

It's been 5 years between SQL Server 2000 and SQL Server 2005.  That means we had a lot of time to be comfortable with our platform for database usage.  That may have led us to be a little complacent or at the very least, slow to respond to the changes.

The MCDBA certification will be retiring soon, along with the MCAD and MCSD.  That means that we MCDBAs are at a crossroads.   The three choices we are faced with are;

1) Remain MCDBA certified and not worry about upgrading because we either don't see a need for it, or we won't be upgrading our database software

2) Look at upgrading to SQL Server 2005

3) Look at upgrading to SQL Server 2008

The road you take depends largely on your organization and what platform you will be adopting.  For example, if you will continue to use SQL Server 2000, then by all means, choose option 1.  You don't need to upgrade your certification at all, unless of course you want to.

More than likely, you, or your organization will be upgrading SQL Server 2000 to either 2005 or 2008.  That one single event will help you to make your decision.

Once you have chosen the version you want to upgrade to, you need to know how to go about getting there.  Remember that we are now dealing with a new generation of certifications.  Instead of multiple exams to get one MCDBA certification, you will face different numbers and sets of exams for the new generation of certifications Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) and Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional (MCITP).

Whether you decide on 2005 or 2008, the MCTS track is simple.  There is no upgrade path from MCDBA to MCTS because the number of exams required to obtain MCTS is simply one. 

For SQL Server 2005, you only need to pass exam 70-431 to obtain the credential of TS: SQL Server 2005.  It doesn't get any simpler than that.

For SQL Server 2008, you can specialize now as either a TS: SQL Server 2008 Database Administrator  (exam 70-432), TS: SQL Server 2008 Database Developer (exam 70-433), or TS: SQL Server 2008 BI (exam 70-448).  Either path requires only one exam. 

As a result of the one exam requirement, there is no logical reason to create an upgrade exam as it would only be one exam as well.

Now, what if you want to become an MCITP?  Well now, that story becomes a little more involved.   The reason for this is because the current SQL 2005 credential in the pro space is split into either MCITP Database Developer, MCITP Database Administrator or MCITP BI.  MCITP Developer requires two exams plus 70-431 as the prerequisite.  MCITP Administrator requires two different exams plus the 70-431 prerequisite.  For BI, you will need to pass 70-445, the TS exam, plus the Pro exam 70-446.

There is, of course, and upgrade path for MCDBA to SQL 2005 MCITP.  If you are interested in the MCITP DBA role, you can take 70-431 as the prerequisite and the 70-447 which is the MCDBA to MCITP Database Administrator skills upgrade exam.

Because there wasn't a database developer equivalent credential in the MCDBA time frame, there is no upgrade path from MCDBA to MCITP Database Developer, nor is there an upgrade path from MCDBA to MCITP BI.

All of the exam prep guides and outlines are available for you to review if you visit the exam search page which also lists the certifications.



Comments (17)

  1. Robert says:

    Questions regarding MCDBA and MCITP.

    What is the difference?  I thought MCDBA would replace multiple MCITP certs.

    What are the different options/levels for DB certs?  I see Dev and Admin on the MCITP tracks.

    Is there an equivalent MCDBA for 2005?

  2. Robert says:

    NM, I found it in the series I hadn’t seen before.

  3. David Marsh says:

    Jesus, do you guys really think you are making things better ? How on earth is anyone supposed to find the time to take all these exams and do a full time job ? The MCSD/MCDBA, were well respected and showed general knowledge of the relevant areas, they also required multiple exams making it harder for people to cheat and more valuable.

    No we have a plethora of confusing small tracks with no high level certs. Worse than that we have cert tracks which people haven’t even finished (MCPD/MCITP), that are already nearly out of date and have only just been released !

    This is nuts ! Please try to get back to an educational basis where you teach something useful and then given a certificate that indicates that learning. Don’t assume everyone becomes stupid every two years because they haven’t learn’t your latest buzzword…

  4. Hi David,

    Thanks for your comments.

    To address some of your concers;

    1) MCSD/MCDBA were well respected.

    We actually have data that counters that.  Hiring managers have trouble understanding what a candidate is certified to do with MCSD as they indicate it is too general.   None of these certifications have much in the way of respect due to the plethora of candidates who have cheated on the exams necessary to obtain these certifications.  The value is very low.

    2) "they also required multiple exams making it harder for people to cheat and more valuable"

    Requiring more exams has no bearing on how difficult a certification is to achieve.  It only adds more time.  You have an issue already with how much time it takes to acquire certifications but you indicate you want more exams.  These are counter to each other.  Also, more exams has no effect at all on making it harder to cheat.  They are all on the brain dump sites.  It’s just another visit to the site so you can memorize the questions for the next exam.

    3) I fail to see how the current new generation of certifications is confusing.

    4) MCPD/MCITP are already nearly out of date.  I’m not sure what leads you to this conclusion.  MCPD on .NET 2.0 and MCITP on SQL 2005 are still as relevant now as they were when they were released.  Because Microsoft is releasing new versions of the products does not make these irrelevant or out of date.   Our strategy is to allow differentiation of people certified on the different product versions.   For example, someone certified on .NET 2.0 is not the same as someone certified on .NET 3.5 due to changes in technology and the addition of WPF, WCF and Workflow to 3.5.  It shows a clearer picture of expertise.

    5) Certifications are based on exams which are designed to test, not to teach.  What you are asking for in your last paragraph is more of an assessment delivered at the end of a training session or course.  Certification does not currently do that.

    We don’t assume that people become stupid.  We rightly assume that not everyone transitions to new technologies and that there is a need to show clear distinctions of version related certifications to help hiring managers understand the qualifications that a candidate brings forward.

    As always, comments and suggestions are welcome.


  5. Liam says:

    Thanks Gerry, that has laid it out clearly.


  6. H says:

    Thank you everyone for all this helpful information. This is my first time I am going to get certified. I am planning on taking 70-432 and 70-450. Do I need to take a class for these, or just study and go and take the certificate? The reason I am asking is that when I wanted to get certified in Oracle, I had to take (and of course pay) for a class?

    In other words, is it true that Microsoft does not require you to take a class, but only the certificate, to be certified?

    Thank you,

  7. Hello H,

    Microsoft does not require you to take a class before an exam.

    All you need to do is register and pay for the exam and you can take it whenever you like.


  8. Saeed says:

    Hi there..

    I was preparing myself to sit for exam MCTS 70-445 for the last 3 months. Now I changed my mind,and I want to take the MCTS 70-448 exam, which is the same exam as 70-445, but in SQL Server 2008. I need to know how much these 2 exams are different? I read MCTS self paced training for exam 70-445, and actually I was involved in 2 BI projects using SQL Server 2005. Do u think there are big differences between BI platforms of SQL Server 2005 and 2008, or my knowledge of SSAS, SSIS, and SSRS 2005 are applicablein 2008 as well?


  9. Hello Saeed,

    Due to confidentiality when it comes to exam content, the only information that can be shared is what can be found in the preparation guides.  

    70-445 prep guide is here,

    70-448 prep guide is here,

    You will need to compare the two prep guides to determine the differences in coverage of topics.  Then, ensure that if you are going for 70-448, that you are well versed in the areas it will cover.


  10. Saeed says:

    Hi Gerry;

    Thanks for your quick and comprehensive response. I have one more question: suppose that I am good at all the skills of BI development in SQL Server 2005 including SSIS, SSAS, and SSRS(Actually I think I am, since I am working as a Business Intelligence developer,) I need to know how different techniques and their implementations are in 2008 compared to 2005? I mean knowing how to work with BI suite of SQL Server 2005 in enough to go for 2008 exam? or there are major differences, which need strong hands-on experience in SQL Server 2008?


  11. Saeed,

    My comments were more to help you understand that the only way you can know, is to look at the prep guide I pointed to for 70-448.  It lists the areas of coverage on the exam.

    If you know those areas in SQL 2008 or you find there are no differences between 2008 and 2005, then you should be ok.

    I don’t recommend taking 70-448 unless you have experience with SQL Server 2008.  Looking at BOL and the current version of SQL 2005, you can determine if you need to learn more.


  12. Hamid says:

    Thank you very much for all this helpful info. I have a couple of questions:

    1- Is 70-432 a pre-requisite for 70-450?

    2- Is there any "recommended" study material by Microsoft for 70-432 (or maybe both of them)?

    Thank you,


  13. Hello Hamid,

    70-432 is not required before you take 70-450.  You can take the exams in any order you choose.  Note that you will not receive the MCITP credential until you pass both 70-432 and 70-450.

    Microsoft will not create training material for 70-450 at this time.  There is a self-paced training kit available for 70-432 however,


  14. Chris Klein says:

    Ok, so is there any time when Microsoft might release some 70-450 materials?  I just took my 70-432 test yesterday after spending a month or so going thru and I was VERY shocked to find that nothing I read or studied for was actually in the test!?!?  That 70-432 book seemed very much like it should of been for the 70-450 test from the type of test questions which came on the CD-rom plus the general material covered in the book.

    What gives with that?

  15. Chris,

    Microsoft will not be releasing training materials for exm 70-450.

    As for your comments regarding the 70-432 Training Kit, you’re not the first to ask these questions.  Here is the explanation.

    When we create an exam, there is a document that is created which is the exam design.  This same document is translated into the prep guide you find on the web site.

    Authors only have access to the same prep guide that you do.  We do NOT allow any authors to see the actual exam questions.  They create their content based on their interpretation of the objectives listed in the prep guide.

    In this way, you need to actually have some hands-on experience with the product and be able to understand the concepts that are being taught and tested.

    If the Training Kits were created to match the exam exactly, then the exam would have no validity or value.  The Training Kits would essentially become nothing more than another variation on a brain dump.


  16. Noc says:

    Hello Gerry,

    I would like to know,what the difference is between a MCITP Database Developer and Database administrator?

  17. Hi Noc,

    I’ll let the audience profiles answer this question,

    DBA –

    Audience Profile

    Candidates for this exam work in an environment in which Microsoft SQL Server 2008 is used for database solutions. Candidates should have at least three years of experience administering databases in an enterprise-level organization and designing, deploying, optimizing, maintaining, and supporting database service life cycle. Candidates should also have experience with the following:

    Defining high-availability solutions

    Data distribution

    Automating administrative tasks (for example, checking db stats, backups)

    Maintaining administrative tasks (for example, determining index rebuild time, file groups for backup)

    Defining security solutions

    Monitoring and troubleshooting the database server

    Performance optimization (for example, physical tuning, including hardware, operating system, instance-level tuning), PerfMon

    Designing and executing deployments

    Deployments and migration

    Defining the infrastructure (for example, storage, hardware, and number of servers or instances)

    DBD –

    Audience profile

    Candidates for this exam typically work in an enterprise environment that has more than 500 personal computers and more than 100 servers and mostly create solutions for all types of enterprise issues. Candidates should have experience with the following:

    • Writing transact SQL queries

    • Programming the database

    • Troubleshooting programming objects (for example, stored procedures, triggers, user-defined functions [UDFs], user-defined types [UDTs], and queries)

    • Database performance tuning and optimization

    • Designing databases at both the conceptual and logical levels

    • Implementing databases at the physical level

    • Might be involved in designing and troubleshooting the data access layer of the application

    • Gathering business requirements


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