MCSE Data Platform
This page provides a brief guide to the MCSE Data Platform certification path. Obtaining Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert level certification demonstrates that you have reached Microsoft's global standard for IT professionals. This certification in particular demonstrates your ability to create and maintain large-scale data solutions via the cloud or on site. Holding MCSE Data Platform certification can lend a significant advantage over others when applying for positions in database design or analysis. Note that this certification must be re-examined every three years, so as to be valid on the latest Microsoft products.
The Certification Process
In order to obtain MCSE: Data Platform certification you will need to pass two separate exams, in addition to having passed the exams necessary to earn an MCSA: SQL Server certification. These exams are arranged separately from any training courses offered, further information on any individual exam can be seen by clicking on the corresponding title.
- Exam 70-464 Developing Microsoft SQL Server Databases
- Exam 70-465 Designing Database Solutions for SQL Server
If you hold either MCITP: Database Administrator 2008 or MCITP: Database Developer 2008 certification in addition to MCSA SQL Server 2012 then you can earn MCSE: Data Platform by taking one exam only.
- Exam 70-459 Transition Your MCITP: Database Administrator 2008 or MCITP: Database Developer 2008 to MCSE: Data Platform
Preparing for the Exams
MCSE exams comprise of between 40 and 60 questions, drawn approximately equally from each section of examinable material. These exams are between 3 and 4 hours long. It is recommended that you should err on the side of over preparation to prevent any weaker areas resulting in a mark that is not high enough to provide a pass.
For further information on Microsoft exams in general, take a look at the Microsoft Certification exams page.
GBdirect offer the full range of Microsoft approved courses aimed to provide the skills and knowledge required to earn this certification. The courses offered are:
These courses will help prepare you for the exams but may not provide you with everything you need to pass them. To ensure a pass we would recommend as much hands-on experience with the product as possible, in addition to further reading from either Microsoft instructional material or reference texts. Performing practice labs detailed either in Microsoft Press books or following the procedures on the TechNet can also be greatly beneficial, practice tests are also available from some companies, notably Transcender, MeasureUp and Kaplan SelfTest. We welcome any reviews of your Microsoft Certification experience, if you feel that you know of an improved learning method then please don't hesitate to get in touch.
Official Microsoft Materials
Microsoft provides some online materials on each exam page itself, notably the TechNet entries along with any other information relevant to each individual segment of the exam, these links can usually be found in the "Skills measured" section of each exam page on Microsoft's site, however these higher level SQL Server exams seem to be somewhat neglected and therefore there may be a large number of missing entries. . Such entries should not only specify what sort of content is examinable but should also give enough information to greatly aid in the learning or revision process. Some of the information can also be found on the Microsoft Developer Network, with more detailed information found within the Books Online section within the Product Documentation heading.
In addition to this Microsoft offers a variety teaching materials through the Microsoft Virtual Academy, these are ideal for either introducing yourself to a new area, or ensuring that your knowledge is not lacking in any particular area. The majority of such courses are aimed at those taking somewhat lower certifications; however you may find them valuable in covering particular of weakness or for general revision purposes.
Microsoft also hosts a wiki and small forum for each individual exam, while the wiki helpfully organises the links to TechNet articles and other Microsoft blogs etc. the forums tend to be underused.
While Microsoft Press usually provides a number of books aimed at those taking the exams required for certification there are as of yet no texts available for the MCSE: Data Platform exams, this list will be updated once they become available.
Non-Microsoft Press books
Professional Microsoft SQL Server 2014 Administration As MCSE certifications are now expected to cover the 2014 iteration of Microsoft SQL server this book acts as an excellent guide to the product as a whole, as well as being useful for those with a good knowledge of SQL server 2012 who are looking for details on key changes.
Professional Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Administration Most reviewers also agree that this is a clear and concise guide to the whole of SQL Server 2012, thus making this an excellent reference text, potentially proving useful when working on practice labs or looking up a particular issue. Earlier editions reportedly contain a significant number of errors.
Other titles from the Professional series could prove valuable for those desiring further study in particular areas, with most of these titles receiving largely positive reviews.
Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Bible This book is another that while covering a very large number of features appears to lack detail in particular areas such as encryption. Despite this the book is seen as being highly user friendly with detailed explanations in addition to sample code being included in the main text. Therefore this can serve as a good reference guide for mid-level users who are seeking to qualify for this certification.
Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Step by Step Most reviews appear to agree that this book servers very well as a guide to using SQL Server 2012, with clear instructions in a logical order, thus it can greatly aid in providing practical experience when used as an aid to assist in performing labs. Some reviewers indicate that this text may not be the best choice if you are already highly familiar with using SQL Server 2012; however it is a very good guide for those with less experience, or experience from previous product iterations.
We welcome reviews and views of any text you have personal experience with, likewise if you feel we have missed off a more valuable study aid please do get in touch.
The Techexams.net forum is one of the most active and helpful for those taking exams leading to either the MCSA or MCSE certification.
A wide variety of blogs are available detailing both exam specific tips and general advice on SQL Server 2012, while this is by no means an exhaustive list the following blogs could prove useful in obtaining your certification.
- The ACE team Blog Used by Microsoft as their general certification tips outlet this blog can potentially be useful although some of their videos can prove rather irritating.
- The TrainSignal Microsoft Certifications Blog While this blog is not necessarily filled with revision material it certainly imparts a great deal of information about the MCSA and MCSE exams themselves.
- MSSQLTips This page provides a highly detailed framework for earning virtually any certification involving SQL server, with further links leading to more detailed information on the topics that will be examined in these exams.
- SQL Server Blog This resource comes from the TechNet and covers a wide range of topics linked to SQL Server. This ranges from updates about online training available, new features and guides to some specific tasks.
- Data Platform Blogs While this resource will have a significant amount of content shared with the SQL Server Blog there is still valuable information to be found for anyone who wants to read further on news or tips about data platform usage in general.
Unfortunately as of yet there are no practice exams that do not come into conflict with Microsoft's anti cheating policy.
What if I fail?
Don't panic. You will be able to see and your test result and the areas you felt weakest in, focus on content areas where your performance was weakest and areas with a high percentage of questions. Once you feel ready you can reschedule your exam. The following text is taken from Microsoft's exam security policy and details their exam retake policy.
Exam retake policy
- If a candidate does not achieve a passing score on an exam the first time, the candidate must wait at least a 24-hour period before retaking the exam.
- If a candidate does not achieve a passing score the second time, the candidate must wait at least a 14-day period before retaking the exam a third time.
- A 14-day waiting period will also be imposed for the fourth and fifth subsequent exam retakes. A candidate may not take a given exam any more than five times per year (12 months). This 12-month period would start the day of the fifth unsuccessful exam retake. The candidate would then be eligible to retake the exam 12 months from that date. In order to take a given exam more than five times per year, a candidate must submit a request and obtain prior permission from Microsoft.
Excellent, you've passed
As with other Microsoft exams passing a certification exam will lead to an update to your account on the Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) site, allowing you to share copies of your exam transcripts to prove your certification to potential employers. In addition to this you will gain aces to the tools to create and download certification logos upon completion of the certification as a whole.
MCSE, Salary and Contract Rate
A recent survey of IT jobs offered across the UK reported the following statistics on the average earning of salaried and contract workers holding MCSE certification. The UK average salary for an MCSA is £42,000, with the average salary for the City of London being £45,000. A breakdown of this shows 90% are offered a salary of more than £26,000 while 10% are offered more than £55,000. Contractor daily rates were also surveyed and the UK average was found to be £325 per day and £350 per day for London. The further breakdown of these figures shows that 90% are offered a daily rate in excess of £175 while 10% are offered more than £425. Further details can be found on the IT Jobs Watch site.