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The Three Hottest Database Certifications Right Now

Everyone wants more data, seek and most companies want employees with specialized knowledge of database technology. These certifications can help you get to the front of the hiring line.

Overwhelmed by Big DataYou like data. I like data. Everyone likes data. Data allows us to see patterns, create patterns where they don’t exist, and make vital business decisions. One of the best ways to prove how much you like data, how much you know about it, and demonstrate how adept you are at managing it is to get certified.


The available database certifications differ as much as the people trying to achieve them. When making your selection you should ask: where am I going? What it is I want to administer, create and develop? Then ask yourself what data your organization needs.


You’ll have to choose your own path for certification, but for the purposes of space and time, let’s look at three of the hottest data certs currently available: Oracle’s Certified Associate, Microsoft’s MCSE: Data Platform (multiple tests) and Cloudera’s Hadoop Developer Exam.


The big players in database certification right now are: Oracle, known for being rich, wait, that’s the owner Larry Ellison. Oracle is one of the biggest database companies in the world and sits at the forefront of database technology. Oracle databases are object-relational, storing data in tables, hooked to other tables and having an “instance” of the actual server/database itself.


If you’re familiar with databases and their traditional format, then you’ll understand how Oracle platforms are laid out. You can query rather than “mine,” and stored procedures are commonplace. The Company’s move into “Big Data” came with Real Application Clusters, or Oracle RAC, where you can have multiple instances (usually on different servers) attached to a central storage array.


This scenario offers advantages such as better performance, scalability and redundancy. Support becomes more complex, however, and many sites do not use RAC. In version 10g, grid computing introduced shared resources where an instance can use, for example, CPU resources from another node (computer) in the grid.


Oracle’s certifications are as vast as their product offerings. Navigating Oracle’s site for certifications is cumbersome and the paths are not laid out clearly, but the one you want to go for is the Oracle Certified Associate (OCA).


The OCA requires you to pass two exams, the Oracle Database 12c: SQL Fundamentals (1Z0-061), and the Oracle Database 11g: Administration (1Z0-052). OCA will test your knowledge of administration on Oracle, light query selection and a complete overview of the platform. I recommend taking version 12 or higher for any certification tracks. As best practice, one should always take the highest and newest version possible of any certification.


The total cost of taking both Oracle exams will run you $500, and take just about that many study hours. Each exam consists of 70 multiple-choice questions to be completed in 90 minutes. Although passing scores for these exams are subject to change without notice, a 65 percent will usually get the job done. Just be sure to check Oracle’s site for any last minute changes.


Microsoft’s flagship database product, SQL, which also stands for Structured Query Language, is similar to Oracle in that it is a relational database, allows queries and stored procedures and has similar scheme. In my opinion, it has a big following because of its ease of use and almost childishly simple interface. While the underlying mechanics are mature and the scalability of Microsoft’s product is robust, the ability to newly step into the product is very easy.


Microsoft’s certification track is far easier to navigate than Oracle’s. It’s clearly laid out and, at least in my experience, has an overall higher track record of passes.


Their database certification of choice is the new MCSE: Data Platform. To achieve this cert you will need to pass five exams:


● Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012/2014
● Administering Microsoft SQL Server 2012/2014 Databases
● Implementing a Data Warehouse with Microsoft SQL Server 2012/2014
● Developing Microsoft SQL Server Databases
● Designing Database Solutions for SQL Server


Note that by passing the first three exams, candidates will earn an MCSA: SQL Server 2012/2014 certification. Microsoft’s does a great job of laying out the path to this certification, it’s very easy to follow. These set of tests cover the entire range of the data product. There is arguably no piece of knowledge that is able to be gained outside of these test, these tests cover everything you’ll need to know.


Each qualifying exam consists of multiple-choice questions and occasional scenarios to be completed within a certain period of time. Make sure you check with Microsoft to find out the number of questions, duration and passing scores before you begin your preparation. The MCSE certification track is a bit on the expensive side because of the number of exams required. You can probably get out from under your MCSE: Data Platform addiction for $1,500, and around 1,000 hours of study time.