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

Inside the Microsoft Certified Master Training


  • 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)!!!

  • 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!?

  • 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!

  • Brent,

    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.

      • Brent,

        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!

  • ana marie ozar nieva
    May 6, 2011 9:33 am

    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.

  • Venkataramakrishna
    February 22, 2012 11:51 pm

    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.