Skip to content

Recommended SQL Server certifications and badges

Reading Time: 4 minutes

I want to cover recommended Microsoft SQL Server certifications and badges. For a few good reasons.

First of all, to answer the very popular question about which Microsoft role-based certification to do for SQL Server. Since the exams for the previous MCSA/MCSE certifications have since retired.

Secondly, in a previous post I provided some advice if Microsoft certifications are your New Year’s resolution. Since then I have covered Azure Databricks, Azure Synapse Analytics and Power BI certifications. You can click on the previous links to view those posts in detail.

Thirdly, to recommend one way that you can improve your SQL Server knowledge further. In addition, how to prove this with a badge.

In addition, in this post I recommend a training route and share plenty of links.

Most recommended SQL Server certification

One very common question people ask online is which Microsoft exam they should take now that the exams for the older MCSA/MCSE certifications have retired.

Well, the Microsoft role-based certification that I recommend to SQL Server professionals is the Azure Database Administrator Associate certification.

Recommended Azure Database Administrator Associate certification for SQL Server
Azure Database Administrator Associate certification

You must pass the DP-300 exam to gain this certification. This exam caters for those with on-premises and/or Azure SQL Server related experience.

You can see in the DP-300 study guide that you need Azure SQL knowledge to pass this exam. Something you must realize if you currently work with on-premises versions of SQL Server.

As you can see on the DP-300 exam page the English version of this exam will be updated on February 2, 2023. So, if you are intending to take the DP-300 after that date make sure you study for the new material.

If considering other certifications as well

If you are thinking about taking other certifications relating to the Microsoft Data Platform I recommend that you at least the material for the DP-900 exam first. Which is the exam you need to pass to gain the Azure Data Fundamentals certification.

So that you get an appreciation of the other Data Platform services as well.

Recommend exam route for DP-300 exam

In addition, if you are a SQL Server professional who wants a recognized SQL Server certification and you also want to gain a DevOps certification I recommend the below route. So that you make the most of your SQL Server knowledge before you look to gain the DevOps Engineer Expert certification.

Recommended exam route for both SQL Server and DevOps certifications

Doing this route allows you to utilize your existing SQL Server knowledge to gain the Azure Database Administrator Associate certification first.

From there, you can build up your knowledge about the rest of the Azure environment as you look to DevOps Engineer Expert certification. Be aware that the skills measured for the AZ-400 exam was updated on February 2.

For more general advice about Microsoft certifications and exams you can read my post that provides advice if Microsoft certifications are your New Year’s resolution.

Specialized SQL Server training

Another question some people have is how to do more specialized SQL Server training after gaining the Azure Database Administrator Associate certification? Plus, how to show that you are gaining more specialized SQL Server knowledge.

Microsoft retired the Microsoft Certified Master for SQL program just under ten years ago so that is no longer an option.

One way you can do this is by attending SQLSkills training courses. They provide Immersion Events that provide deep knowledge in various areas. In fact, they have trained a lot of well-respected SQL Server professionals over the years.

Back in 2020 they announced that they were going to start providing verified credentials and badging. You can also request a badge if you had attended one of their courses previously. As long as it was after January 1, 2012.

I can personally vouch that you can do this. Because I attended a course many years ago and I recently gained a badge for doing so.

Recommended SQLSkills badge
SQLSkills badge

Of course, this is just my recommendation and there are other training courses available. However, this was the most technical SQL Server course that I have attended.

Which is saying something considering I once attended a SQLBits training day which was allegedly a level 800 training day.

Retired exams

Below are some examples of older SQL Server certifications that you can no longer gain because the exams have retired:

  • MCP for SQL (back in the nineties)
  • MCDBA (was for SQL Server 2000)
  • MCTS/MCITP (to cater for SQL Server 2005)
  • MCSA/MCSE (both old and new versions)

If you have any of the older certifications listed before the new style MCSA/MCSE certifications than I definitely recommend looking at the new certifications. Because a lot has been introduced over the last decade.

In addition, if you are an employer and you are still using the older certifications in your job advertisements I recommend updating them. Unless of course you are using the older versions of SQL Server. Which introduces a completely different discussion.

Final words about recommended SQL Server certifications and badges

I hope this post about recommended SQL Server certifications and badges has given some of you food for thought.

Especially since some of you have new certifications in mind as part of your New Year’s resolutions. Plus, I know some of you are keen to know about more specialized routes.

Of course, if you have any comments or queries about this post feel free to reach out to me.

Published inCertificationsSQL Server


  1. Jordan Jordan

    I’m disappointed that Microsoft has retired all non-cloud based SQL certification – I’ve been working with SQL for 20+ years and everything my employers use is on site, and wanted to gain certification. There is no way to do this other than to go down the Azure route, and to learn a whole ream of information that I’ll likely never use. Poor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *