Making sense of SQL Server 2012 MCP Certification paths

I earned my MCDBA on SQL 2000 and then skipped the certification tests for 2005 and only took one for 2008. Now that I’m thinking about taking some 2012 tests to get my certifications updated, I find myself confused – no matter how many times I check the Microsoft Certification page for SQL Server, I find myself still a bit unclear about how things upgrade from 2008 to 2012, and if it makes sense to squeeze in a few SQL 2008 tests while I still can (they retire on July 31st, 2013).

To help make sense of them, I made a few cheat sheets that I’m hoping will clarify what tests are needed for which certifications (including which ones apply towards multiple certifications, so you get the biggest “bang for your buck”, in a way).

In these charts, the certifications are on the left side and the individual tests are across the top – the boxes marked in the chart correspond to the tests required to earn a particular certification. Also, you can click on each chart to get a slightly larger/clearer version.

SQL 2008 Certifications:
If you want to earn the “MCSA: SQL 2008”, you’d find the certification on the left (it’s the last row) and see which boxes are shaded (exams 70-432 and 70-448).

You may also notice that some of the certifications are colored – that’s to help make sense of the SQL 2012 upgrade paths. Each of the colored certifications can be used as part of an upgrade to a certification in SQL 2012. In the chart below, the left set of “Exams” along the top are certifications – the boxes are colored the same as the above chart, to help make clear which certifications can be upgraded:

Upgrading certifications from SQL 2008 -> SQL 2012
Using this chart, say you want to earn your “MCSA: SQL 2012” (it’s the first row) and you already have your “MCSA: SQL 2008” (it’s the first column – green from the previous chart). To complete your certification, you’ll need to pass exams 70-457 and 70-458.

Finally, here are the same SQL 2012 certifications, but without the upgrades from SQL 2008 – in this chart, it assumes you’re starting from scratch:

SQL 2012 Certifications:
If you want to earn the same “MCSA: SQL 2012” as before, find it on the left (it’s the first line), and then you can see that it requires passing exams 70-461, 70-462, and 70-463.

Hopefully this helps sort things out a bit and make the upgrade paths a little more clear.

More information about Microsoft Certifications for SQL Server:
SQL Server certification – main page
MCSA: SQL Server (covers both SQL 2008 and 2012)
MCSE: Data Platform (new for SQL 2012)
MCSE: Business Intelligence (new for SQL 2012)

4 thoughts on “Making sense of SQL Server 2012 MCP Certification paths”

  1. Thank you very much for this information. As I have seen others state, I too have found the certification information on Microsoft’s site confusing. So thank you for your chart to clarify. I am going for MCTS: SQL Server 2008 Developer. It does not look like there is MCTS for 2012. I think a lot of companies are still using SQL 2008 so I hope the 2008 cert will make me marketable. I do plan to pursue the MCTS: SQL 2008 BI.

    1. I agree – I wish there were still targeted certifications for SQL 2012, but they’ve gone the route of general certifications instead, seeming to prefer shallow recognition of the entire product as opposed to deep knowledge of a specific focus area.

      That said, I’d encourage you to finish the SQL 2008 certifications you’re interested in – the specific areas haven’t changed all that much in SQL 2012, and it will still demonstrate understanding of the concepts underpinning the exam, if not the specific version of the software. As a hiring manager myself, I can tell you that I’d still consider those certifications on 2008 worthwhile for a candidate to have. In addition, most places I talk with are still largely on SQL 2008 (and/or 2008 R2), and the move to 2012 is gradual – knowledge specific to SQL 2008 will still be relevant for quite a while longer, and even once we move to SQL 2012, the concepts I learned in SQL 2008 are still very much relevant in the new version.

      Good luck!

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