People choose to get certified for a variety of reasons. Many IT Professionals get certified to update their skills and give their resume the automatic boost that comes with certification. Other technology users may choose to get certified to become more well-rounded and gain a better understanding of the underlying products they work with every day. Whatever the reason, there is no doubt that getting certified will only enhance your skills. Unfortunately, certification can seem like a daunting task, leaving many people to continually push it down lower on their list of things to do. Further complicating the matter, Microsoft has forced some changes that may make certification seem even more daunting than before. But as the saying goes, Knowledge is Power, so hopefully, understanding the current certification options will make the process seem less daunting and more attainable.

In September 2018, Microsoft announced a shift in the certification process from Technology-Based Certifications to Role-Based Certifications. Since then, they have been phasing out certain certifications while creating new ones focused on the cloud platform. As of January 31, 2021, all former SQL Server Certification exams have been retired. The good news is that your current MCSA, MCSD, and MCSE Certifications will remain in the active section on your Microsoft transcript until June 2022, so you don’t need to run out right away and obtain a new role-based certification. The idea behind these new certifications is that they are based more on job roles rather than specific technologies, so they provide more of what IT professionals need to perform their jobs. They also aim to help you advance in the increasingly implemented cloud-based world. Microsoft states they are constantly adding to the training for cloud solution areas, so skill gaps associated with job roles should be minimized.

For SQL Server specifically, if you are a DBA looking for certification related to Database Administration, you will want to look at the Azure Database Administrator Associate Certification role. This certification only requires you to pass 1 exam. The skills measured in this exam are:

  • Plan and implement data platform resources
  • Implement a security environment
  • Monitor and optimize operational resources
  • Optimize query performance
  • Perform automation of tasks
  • Plan and implement a High Availability and Disaster Recovery environment
  • Perform administration by using TSQL

Other role based certifications that could be of interest to a Database Administrator include the Azure Solutions Architect Expert and Azure Data Engineer Associate. Both of these roles require that 2 exams be passed to obtain certification.

To browse all certifications available, go to Microsoft’s Certification page at Here you can click on one of 9 predefined Certification Paths based on specific job roles and see what paths are recommended by Microsoft. Or you can scroll down on the page and click “Browse Role-Based Certifications” which will provide filters to narrow your search more specifically. These filters include SQL Server and a wide range of other Microsoft Products, as well as other filters. Once you click on a Certification, you can also see information on what free online classes you can take to prepare for the exam, as well as paid Instructor-led classes.

Although Certification can sometimes be intimidating, it does appear that now certification for the SQL Server DBA has been simplified in regards to fewer certification options and exams. So maybe now is the time to put this item at the top of your to-do list!

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