Saturday, October 08, 2005

MySQL 5 certifications

There were a few days of silence in my weblog - but for a good reason. Yesterday I've passed my MySQL Core Exam - and there are plans for more :-). My goal is to end up with the new Developer and Administrator Certificates for MySQL 5.0, as well as some other certificates (PHP, Java).

As it happens, I also received my new MySQL 5.0 Study Guide yesterday. I've read a lot about the MySQL certifications on the MySQL website and in the forum, so I'd like to take this opportunity to sum up the most important details that I've learned about the ways to get certified.

There are two certification levels based on MySQL 4.1 that are currently offered - there's a Core Exam which covers the topics that a developer needs to know and a Professional Exam which is mostly about administration of a MySQL server. The Core Certificate is a requirement that someone can take the Professional Exam.

I've read that the new MySQL 5 certificates will be available about 2 or 3 months after MySQL 5 becomes a Production Release. There will be 2 exams for each of the Developer Exam and the Administration exam. As soon as somebody has successfully taken both exams for either the Developer Exam or the Administration Exam, he will be entitled as CMDEV which is a 'Certified MySQL Developer' or a CMADM which is a 'Certified MySQL Administrator'. At the beginning, the 5.0 exams will be offered as Beta exams - probably with a price discount. Therefore, it might take some time until the candidate knows whether he has passed or failed on the exam.

There will also be upgrade exams from the 4.x exams to the 5.x exams, which might also come at a discount price. I don't know all the details about them, but as far as I know at the moment, there might be one upgrade exam from Core Certificate to CMDEV and another from Professional Certificate to CMADM. For the MySQL 5 exams, it will not be necessary to take the exams in any particular order, as it was required for the 4.x exams.

So if I take my personal example (having already passed the Core exam and planning for both new 5.0 exams), there are 2 ways to achieve this goal. I can either take the Professional Exam and then upgrade both exams to the new 5.0 exams, or I can wait until the 5.0 exams are out and then take the 2 Administration exams and upgrade my Core Certificate to the new Developer Certificate. Both ways end up with 3 more exams.

The most important benefit for me is the following. Even if you know a lot about the technices (e.g. MySQL, but also others) and have good skills on these, it's still very hard to proof your skills to other people - mainly to people who are not developers themselves. It's very hard to convince your customers, but also employers, if you apply for a new job, that you have good skills. There are many competitors around and there are many who pretend that they are good on their job, even though they are only good in selling themselves. Often, these guys get a job more easily than somebody who has better skills.

But with certificates, there's a big advantage against those people who are good in selling, but not as good in developing.


rpbouman said...

Markus, Congratulations on getting the Core exam Certificate!

I hope you'll be successful in aquiring the other ones too.

There's just one line in your post -it happens to be the last one- that's been tickling my curiosity:

"But with certificates, there's a big advantage against those people who are good in selling, but not as good in developing. "

Are you really experiencing this? I mean, do you really sense that you miss out on jobs and opportunities because employers are giving it away to 'suit' guys and galls good at selling skills they do not really posses?

Markus Popp said...

Hi Roland! Thanks for the congratulations :-)!

Since I'm self employed I haven't concretely experienced these situations with employers, although I think that also in these situations it's easier to refer to certificates than to make an employer believe in your skills by talking.

But in the sector of webdesign and webprogramming I've found many examples where unskilled competitors got good jobs and produced bad results. I'm not a good seller - I know that, but I try hard to become as good as possible as developer. So there's the problem to me, how to sell this the best way. And I think, certificates might help me.

Andrew Gilfrin said...

Hi guy's, personally I think certificates are just part of a whole host of things that need to be on your CV. I'm not sure if a certificate will make or break a job interview but it will add to the overall perception.

I certainly don't think it's any replacement for commercial experience.

Having said that I think there is a distinct advantage in having something like the new MySQL 5.0 exams.

The problem comes when everybody has them, it's difficult also for the companies offering them, they don't want to make them so hard nobody has them, but equally they can't make them so easy everybody gets one.

Markus Popp said...

I completely agree with that :-) - it's one part, but not the only part and probably one certificate won't make it alone.

I recently got my MySQL 5 study guide and for both the MySQL 4.1 and the MySQL 5.0 exams I can honestly say that there's a good balance on what they demand from users taking the exam.

You have to know about all the relevant topics about MySQL with many details. But it does concentrate on what you really need in practice, so it still sticks to the important things.

That automatically solves this problem - you do have to know what MySQL is all about, without it there's hardly a chance to pass the exam. This naturally limits the number of people owning this certification. But it's not that tough for people who work with MySQL in practice on a regular basis.

Besides, I even think that the MySQL 5.0 study guide is a great book not only for people aiming for the exams, but also to get good skills for the daily work with MySQL ;-).