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My Quest to Become a Microsoft Certified Master

I’ve started my preperations for taking the first part (of the 2 part exam process) to become a Microsoft Certified Master.


As of today there are still no Prometric sites in Canada that offer the exam so I’ll have to try and schedule around one of my bi-monthly trips to Redmond I guess.  I’ve been a 2008 MCITP-DBA and MCITP-DBDEV since the exams were first released so it’s been a while since I’ve had to “hit the books”.

My approach is to watch the MCM Readiness Videos and if I feel unsure about some of the subject matter of the video to then focus my efforts on that module and make sure I’m as comfortable with it as I am others.  Some topics jump out to me immediately for needing some intense reading (XML, CLR, SQL Azure, and Spatial).  These are all topics that I’d say I have an “OK” at best grasp on and to become an MCM “OK” just doesn’t cut it.

The studying, reading, etc I’ve been doing has been really fun so far…. no really it has been.  Too often I think people get into a “comfort zone” of what they know and don’t take the time to really work with and understand what they don’t know.  I definitely have been guilty in the past of not being in an “always learning” mode so this “carrot” that is being dangled in front of me (the MCM certification) is great motivation to take my skills to the next level.

There are some great blogs out there talking about the new MCM process and requirements:

 Changes to the Microsoft Certified Master of SQL Server Program – Brent Ozar

Big changes to the MCM program and how SQLskills can help you – Paul Randal

Microsoft Certified Master – SQL Server Online Training – Links and Study Aids – Paul Randal

… and of course my current playlist while working out at the gym:

The SQL Server 2008 MCM Readiness Videos – Paul Randal, Kimberly Tripp, Bob Beauchemin, and Brent Ozar

Good luck to everyone studying up!!

Enjoy!! (Follow me on Twitter: @ColinStasiuk and @Tier1OnSQL)

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  1. Rafal says:

    That’s great man! Hit the books hard and best of luck on the tests!

  2. Joseph Sack says:

    Glad to hear you are pursuing this Colin – good luck on your studies!

    Regarding Prometric sites in Canada, we do offer the Knowledge Exam in the following sites (and plan for this as well for the Lab Exam next year):

    Hamilton (Site code ON71)
    Toronto ON CANADA (Site code ON46)
    London ON ON CANADA (Site code ON74)
    Montréal PQ CANADA (Site code QU15)

    Drop me an email if you’re unable to register via those testing sites.

    Best Regards,


  3. Colin says:

    Joseph – Thanks for the info… maybe I looked too early on or was in the wrong section. I still think it would be best for me to do it when I’m in Redmond as that’s only a couple hour flight vs a 6-7 hour flight over to the east coast 🙂

    I’ll be in Redmond in January and then March so I’m thinking March will be my target for the knowledge exam.

    Happy Holidays!

  4. Shaun says:

    Glad to see you improving yourself and hitting the books. I know exactly what you mean by getting comfortable. Sometimes you need to get a little uncomfortable to move on.

    Good luck! I know you’ll ace it

  5. Keith - MCSE, MCP, CISSP says:

    Colin, Do you plan on going to work for Microsoft? Seems the majority of the currently listed MCM’s and MCA’s are Microsoft employees. There’s only a small handful of people outside of MS that even have this designation. Is the cost really worth it?

    Do you have your Masters in CS or Business? If not I would recommend going after these rankings. When there is NO one certified from any world wide governmental body, is having the MCM or MCA really going to matter? Hell there is ONLY 1 person who is with Google that has this certification, just 1.

    Why bother?

  6. Keith

    Thanks for the reply and I think we’re going to see a big shift in those numbers now that the MCM has shifted from the $20,000 price tag and 3 weeks on site in Redmond to the $500 test and $2000 lab. I personally know at least 10 people off the top of my head who do NOT work for Microsoft that have already written or are in the process of preparing to write the first part for the certification.

    For me, I’m an independent consultant so my reasons for wanting the certification is more focused on my business. If I’m bidding on a contract against someone with similar background, similar pricetag, similar skills, etc having something like an MCM just might shift the balance in my favor.

    I went through the same thought process when I was considering whether or not I wanted to write my book. The money you get from it is definitely not worth the time and effort you put in but the challenge of taking something on like that is amazing. Once again my business and resume also played a factor as I can now say I’m a published author.

    When you ask “is having the MCM or MCA really going to matter?” I guess it depends on who it matters to…. if I’m lucky enough to be able to get the MCM it will matter to me and I will look at it as an amazing achievement in my career… and I think it will matter to my current (and future) customers as validation that the person who is managing and consulting them on their database environment has the experience and the highest certification in the subject matter area possible.

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