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					Certification, Vocational School, Traditional University, Or College For
a Database Career
There is no doubt that there are plenty of career opportunities in the
database field these days. Job search websites abound with endless
opportunities to make a great deal of money as a Database Administrator
or Database Developer. If you are an aspiring database professional
without a fair amount of experience or someone who is looking to jump
into a new career within this particular field, then you may be wondering
where to start. There are usually three choices, certification,
vocational school or college.
Certifications can be useful in most instances but are not the be all and
end all of what you will need to be successful, but they will definitely
help! Certifications demonstrate, or are supposed to demonstrate, a
thorough knowledge of the subject for which you are certified. A
certification such as the MCTS: SQL Server 2005 (for people interested in
databases) is an entry-level certification, meaning that it is the first
of three needed to achieve the MCITP: Database Administrator or Database
Developer designation. The first exam in this particular series, Exam 70-
431, can be very challenging, especially for someone who is just looking
to break into the field. However, with a lot of studying, using various
tools, such as, university extension courses, computer based training
programs, books and practice exams, it is very possible, and very
rewarding, to pass the exam. However, is it enough to make the big money?
Well, without a history of documented work experience, probably not right
away, but it can be done! With a certification and no practical hands-on
experience you may have a few years ahead of you to get to that all
illusive six-figure salary that you know you deserve. Realistically,
certifications may enhance your resume and help you stand-out over some
of the other candidates with whom you are competing with, but once you
get into that interview room, all you have is your skill-set and relevant
knowledge. In almost all things, but especially in interviews, knowledge
is king. Interviewers have a knack for being able to discern what you
really know, and how it compares to your resume. Certification without an
actual understanding of the subject at hand relegates your certification
to just another piece of paper and a line or two of ink on your resume so
study hard. And as for brain-dumps, just say no!
Vocational schools can be a way to gain some practical experience and
demonstrate a commitment to learning. However, Vocational schools are
more often than not-not regionally accredited. Most subscribe to a
private accrediting agency which can be troublesome if you want to use
the credits/units earned at a vocational school and apply them to a
traditional four-year college or university. These types of institutions
can be very expensive, and being that the credit/units you have earned
cannot be taken with you to another institution, in most cases, can be a
disadvantage. Nevertheless, Vocational Schools can help you enhance your
skill-set, just as with anything else, you get out of it what you put in.
Vocational schools usually offer classes that are accommodating to people
who work, the schedules are set and consistent through the program, the
programs offered are often shorter than traditional junior colleges and
they also provide job placement and help with filing for financial aid.
You can never go wrong with going to a traditional, regionally accredited
Junior College, four-year College or University. People who usually
circumvent the traditional route usually due so because of perceived or
actual time constraints and the scheduling conflicts that may be
involved. Traditional post-secondary schools offer the familiar coveted
degrees: Associates, Bachelors, Masters, and Ph.D. etc., which hold their
value indefinitely. Traditional schools are now more than ever tailoring
their class schedules to accommodate working adults. However, trying to
secure financial aid, figuring out a schedule, registering for classes
can be quite daunting and time consuming.
If you have the time and can make the commitment then the traditional
post-secondary school route is the safest and surest bet to accomplish
your career goals. If you couple traditional school with a relevant
industry certification then your marketability does go up considerably!
Vocational schools may be a good alternative for those who are looking
break into the job market right away in an entry-level position. With
college, university or vocational schools chances are you will incur some
student loans, well, to that I say, join the club! Look at it as a cost
of opportunity. You'll probably get decent enough salary bump after
finishing school to more than cover the cost of the student loan. When
looking to land a job, remember that experience is key and if you go the
certification route it is just to objectively demonstrate your abilities
and get face time with an interviewer by standing out more than the next
person. Also remember, that any of the three routes that you take a
better than taking no route out all. Pick one and own it! Good luck!
Philip owns, operates and contributes to http://www.sqldatabasics.com and
is a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist with SQL Server 2005.