Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) of SQL Server
The Microsoft Certified Master program measures technical expertise and experience. It’s Microsoft’s highest technical certification. It costs thousands of dollars and involves the toughest exams I’ve ever seen. This is nothing like the MCITP program, and there’s a reason why you haven’t heard of it.
Back in 2011, there were less than a dozen SQL Server 2008 MCMs in the United States who don’t work for Microsoft, and I was one of ’em. Here’s my story of the original MCM program experience back when it cost almost $20,000 to achieve and required three weeks of time onsite in Seattle:
Preparing for the Microsoft Certified Master Course
- What is a Microsoft Certified Master – an overview of the whole thing before I started.
- MCM Prep – Prerequisite Reading – the reading list you’re assigned before attending. You NEED to read this stuff.
- MCM Prep – Exams 70-433 and 451 – the database developer tests you have to pass before registering.
- MCM Prep – Interview with Joe Sack – one of the guys who manages the MCM program.
- MCM Prep – How Would You Change the MCM? – I asked readers how they’d do things differently.
Inside the Microsoft Certified Master Training
- SQL MCM Day 0 – the night before the first day of school.
- SQL MCM Day 1 – I started class on the Ides of March and had to start prioritizing things immediately.
- SQL MCM Day 2 – we covered more about prior versions than I’d expected, and I was happy with that.
- SQL MCM Day 3 – I figured out that there were a ton of subjects covered, and not everybody was going to master all of ’em.
- SQL MCM Day 7 – my thoughts right before my first exam. I was pretty worried.
- SQL MCM Day 8 – my thoughts afterwards. Whew.
- SQL MCM Day 10 – going outside of my comfort zone.
- SQL MCM Day 14 – my daily routine, how I studied.
- SQL MCM: Logistics – where to stay, what to bring.
- SQL MCM: Taking Good Notes – my techniques for watching lectures.
- SQL MCM: When You Should Go – how to tell when you’re ready, and how to get in free if your company’s got a Premier Agreement.
- SQL MCM: And Now, the Bad Stuff – near the end of the 3 week journey, I discussed my disappointments.
- SQL MCM: David Ikeda & Joe Sack – these two guys do a great job of managing the MCM program.
- SQL MCM: The Exams and Final Lab – how hard are they? Hard. Really hard.
Interesting why DBD (MCTS & MCITP) are mandatory for registering, so DBA (MCTS & MCITP) is optional, even though in the MS Certification site both are required!
Otherwise, let me congrats once again for your MCM title, and I wish you a BIG success if you are planing for MCA(SQL Server)!!!
Dugi – both the DBD and DBA MCITPs are required.
I have a question here, what if you fail in exams and lab!? – What will happen with $, do you have the chance for second shot or you should go from the beginning!?
Dugi – I discuss that in the Exams and Final Lab article above.
Thanks for that much details, I will follow the path and prepare for MCM. I was also thinking that only one MCITP is required, but thats fine I will pass developer track also and then plan for MCM.
I have gone through Microsoft website for MCM, all fees are in $ and training dates mentioned are also for US I think, can you mention link for MCM if some one like me in UK is preparing for MCM and want to find details on course timings etc.
Abdul – yes, the training is only available in the US right now. They’re looking at making it available in Europe sometime in the future.
Congratulations on passing and attaining the SQL MCM. :thumbsup:
Congratulations Brent on your SQL Server 2008 MCM. Looking forward to your seminars on SQL Server 2008.
It seems strange that Microsoft don’t include any of the BI components in the course. Surely a master should be familiar with all things SQL which includes Analysis Services, SSIS and reporting services!
Paul – I was worried that the MCM might cover that, and it definitely shouldn’t in my opinion. I don’t know anyone who has to be an expert in those other technologies plus the engine itself. Typically companies bring in specialized people for each of those technologies when you need a real master of them. It’s easy to be a jack of all trades across those tools, but hard to really master all of them – especially when new versions come out every 3 years. I’d love to see an MCM program for SSIS, SSAS, and SSRS though.
I’ve got the MC-ITP certifications for Database Developer 2008 & Database Administrator 2008 and am planning for the MC-ITP BI Developer 2008 exams. You’re right though, Jack of all trades, master of none.
Your reading list pre-requisites for the MCM course is an awsome set of links. Just the 1st set about IPD has me blown away and the others I’ve skimmed through quickly look equalling compelling. Thanks very much, it’s an excellent reference 🙂
I just completed the MCITP:DBA 2005 (Oct. 2010), and I’d like to upgrade it to DBA 2008 by taking the 70-453 exam. Any suggestions on study materials? TIA!
William – sorry, I don’t have recommendations for that.
Your videos along others such as Scott Wigham and Paul S. Randall have inspired me to brush up my old MCDBA cert and go for the MCM. I am planning on immersing myself in SQL for about 6 hours a day, some of it in labs. I have 2 years experience managing 57 servers with various OLAP and OLTP environments, many of which we migrated to virtual servers.
Do you think someone with my limited experience, can still reasonably pull it off if not after 6 months of intense work, maybe a year?
Ali – no, I don’t think it’s realistic to expect to pass the MCM with 2-3 years of experience. If you jumped into a consulting role instead, you might be able to pull it off after a couple more years, though. Consulting (not contracting) is like a rocket ship for your brain – it throws you into a bunch of different situations in rapid fire, new features and tools you’ve never used before, and gets real production experience.
Ali – lemme put it another way: I know people with 10 years of SQL Server experience who’ve failed the Knowledge Exam.
Thanks for the honest assessment. I’m reviewing the training on your website, sqlpass, and the microsoft MCM videos for about 4-5 hours a day. Your site has inspired me to blog about SQL and (someday) pass this exam. Keep up the great work.
The MCM videos rock! Thanks to you and your friends at SQLSkills as they are helping me in getting more knowledge on SQL server.
I haven’t seen all the videos, yet, but the one on virtualization is great!
Now I’m gonna have a ton of additional questions at DEVCONNECTIONS in Orlando! 🙂
PS Just when you think you know enough, you find out a ton more to learn.
Rudy – thanks, glad you like it! I feel that same way whenever I listen to any other good speaker, too. There’s always more to learn about technology!
You’re great!KEEP IT UP!
Congrads Brent! …and thanks for the putting it all the resources together. Passed my MCITP and now thinking about MCM one of these days.
TO achieve MCM in SQL 2008 is the candidate require 10 years of IT experience? Because I am having 5 years of Experience, do i need to wait for 5 more years.
I would highly recommend only going for the MCM with 8-10 years of SQL Server experience. I know plenty of folks with 8-10 years who’ve failed. If you’ve got both of your MCITP exams though, you could try the $500 written test – I’d just hate to see you waste your money.