Roadmap to Success: MCSA SQL Server 2012

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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.

UPDATED: We updated this article November 29, 2016, to reflect relevant changes to the Microsoft SQL Server 2012 certification curriculum.

The Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) SQL Server 2012 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 and SQL Server 2012 databases, as well as implementing data warehouses.

Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) SQL Server 2012
The Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) SQL Server 2012 is designed to affirm learners’ knowledge and skills surrounding SQL Server 2012. As an associate-level certification, MCSA SQL Server 2012 is made up of three exams, all of which are covered by CBT Nuggets training:

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.

Exam Details
Pearson, the testing center that usually provides Microsoft exams, offers a great “Exam Profile” series that addresses nearly all the MCSE: Data Platform exams.

However, the following exam details are applicable for each exam that makes up the MCSA: SQL Server 2012 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
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 it necessary to take an exam more than once for a successful outcome. Fortunately, Microsoft is aware of the level of challenge associated with their exams, and often provides an “Exam Replay” that enables learners to retake exams at no cost. (Please note that the Exam Replay may not always be available. Learners should research Exam Replay availability to avoid missing out on the opportunities it provides.)

Recertification
The MCSA is not subject to recertification. However, MCSE certifications do require recertification every three years. At this time, the only method of recertification is to retake a certification exam. Microsoft is  evaluating other recertification options, including continuing education credits, but it appears that options like these may not become available for quite some time.

The Next Step
Many learners who earn MCSA SQL Server 2012 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, learners typically choose a certification related to database technology:

Related certification options outside the Microsoft realm include:

Career 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 $40,769 and $135,845 annually. Common roles or titles for those who hold an MCSA SQL Server 2012 certification include database designer, database developer, database administrator, IT manager, IT director, systems administrator, and senior systems engineer.

Microsoft Certifications
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.

Begin exploring other Microsoft certification options for which CBT Nuggets provides training to open up even more professional development opportunities.

Concluding Thoughts
The MCSA SQL Server 2012 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 certification today!

Watch. Learn. Conquer the MCSA!