Thursday, October 31, 2013

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!