Prequel

When I started with my first real job in IT after my graduation I actual was hired as a C# dot net developer. I soon realized that the job description was a bit wrong. Instead of dealing with much C# Code I had actually to deal with a kind of data warehouse. C# was only used to do the ETL (extract transform load) processes. Obviously my former company had implemented ETL tools themselves instead of using existing ones.

However since I specialized in databases during my master and wrote my master thesis about sql it actually really suited me. But I was confronted with SQL Server 2008 and later SQL Server 2012 and I only knew SQL from MySQL and ORACLE. But of course I lacked in practical skills.

So in the end I decided to achieve the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) Certificate to bring my knowledge up to date and learn some SQL Server 2012 interior.

Exam 70-461 - Querying the SQL Server 2012

The first exam is all about Querying the SQL Server 2012 including T-SQL, specialties from SQL Server, Best practices and so on. I used the book training kit (LINK) to prepare for the exam. Whenever I felt like the descriptions in the book don't make enough sense or the level of writing was not deep enough, I followed the links provided in the book or used the internet to really understand what’s going on.

Because I already knew SQL very well I felt really confident when going into the exam. The exam itself is a multiple choice test on a computer. But there are also free field questions where you have to state a full correct query! That really hit me like a truck since I only expected multiple choice question. Other types of questions are "choose all that apply". The questions don't state always how many possibilities are right.

I expected to pass with nearly 95% but in the end my passing score was 730 and required score was 700. So it was a really close thing.

Exam 70-463 - Building a data warehouse in SQL Server 2012

Yes I did the 70-463 before the 70-462 for a simple reason. Since I am a developer and the 462 exam is all about administering SQL Server I was not really looking forward to that exam. So I chose to do the data warehouse exam first.

Mainly it is about three big things. I felt like 50% was all about SSIS (SQL Server Integration Services) that is the ETL tool of Microsoft. Other important topics were Master Data Services and Data Quality Services from Microsoft. I can say that it is basically enough to do the examples in the training kit book. Also if you don't really understand why you do something then have a look at the Microsoft online library or google your question / problem.

This exam went pretty well since I worked on a nearly daily basis with SSIS at that point (learned it from the scratch for that exam though) I was really good prepared and passed with a score high above 900. This exam was also the most fun since I knew how the tests would look like from my experience with the first exam and the topic really suited me as a developer.

Exam 70-462 - Administering the SQL Server 2012

So nine month passed since I tackled that one. For a developer some things are a bit boring but you just have to keep on prepare yourself.
A good starting point was the training kit book again. But you need to read more about AlwaysOn and the replication stuff online since I feel like it is not covered enough in the book. Also have a close look to Azure when it comes to migrating towards Azure and special syntax of Azure SQL.

In the training kit book you build a lab consisting of virtual machines. I would not spend too much time on that since I only used it for replication trainings.
But the screenshots provided there are really good too so I guess it is not really necessary. However I would spent a little bit more time on the internet concerning the whole replication, AlwaysOn and mirroring topic.

Finally

Finally I also passed this one with a solid score and now can call myself MCSA for SQL Server 2012 for a lifetime since the certificate never runs out because it is bound to the specific Sql Server version.

My next step aims towards the MCSE: Data platform. This certificate has to be renewed every 3 years but it is not bound to a version so you don't have to redo too many exams.

I hope you enjoyed the little insight. If you have any questions leave them in the comment section below.