There are a couple of new certifications in town, and they call themselves MySQL Core and Professional. The Core certification was released in March 2003. The Professional exam went to beta test a month later. These first two certifications are designed for users and administrators. Each requires only one test, but you must have Core certification before you go for Professional.

MySQL Core
The Core certification is for folks who use MySQL for more than 150 hours per month to perform simple queries, or who have to import large amounts of data into an existing installation. Some advanced information is covered as well. This includes some of the MySQL extensions to the SQL standard syntax, as well as intermediate WHERE and JOIN clauses.

MySQL Professional
The Professional certification is for folks who perform more advanced administrative functions with MySQL. This includes installing the software on a server, basic troubleshooting and optimization, and user management. This cert focuses on how and when to use MyISAM vs. InnoDB table types.

Skills measured
For each exam, there are 70 questions to be completed in 90 minutes. Blank answers are counted as wrong answers, so a guess is better than a blank. For the Core certification, the question breakdown is:

  • Data Definition Language (20 percent)
  • Basic SQL query skills (15 percent)
  • Updating data (15 percent)
  • Joins and multitable updates (15 percent)
  • Software components and product licenses (10 percent)
  • Using client applications (10 percent)
  • Company and industry knowledge (10 percent)
  • Importing/exporting data (5 percent)

For the Professional certification, the question breakdown is:

  • General MySQL functionality, such as memory, storage, logs, and connectivity (15 percent)
  • Software installation (20 percent)
  • Security (15 percent)
  • Optimization (15 percent)
  • MyISAM tables (10 percent)
  • InnoDB tables (10 percent)
  • Advanced features, such as load, cluster, and performance tweaking (15 percent)

Test-taking skills and details
The test format itself should be familiar to anyone who has taken certification exams before. The GUI format presents the candidate with a question, and the type of answer will be multiple choice or short text answers. If more than one answer is acceptable, there will be a comment to that effect on the screen with the question.

The Core exam fee is $200, and the Professional exam is $250. Pearson VUE offers the test. Discount vouchers are available but must be used before July 31, 2003. The deadline for the Core discount is September 2003. The Professional exam is still in beta, but the same time limit should apply. For more information, check the MySQL order site.

It’s worth noting that even though the Professional exam is still in beta, certified status will be awarded if you pass it. The beta exam has many more questions than will be included in the live exam so evaluators have enough data to determine the effectiveness of the test. As with most certification exams, you must sign an NDA (nondisclosure agreement) and an LUA (logo usage agreement).

Expiration and versioning
MySQL certification exams are tied to specific versions of the software. If you’re certified on one version, and another version comes out, you still retain your original certification status. You will, however, want to keep your certification up to date if you want to prove that you have the latest skills. Having an older certification in combination with plenty of relevant experience is enough to prove that you’re not wet behind the ears.

Using the certification
When you pass an exam, you’ll receive a congratulations package. It tells you how to use the various logos for business cards, stationery, Web sites, etc., and includes a certificate.

Looking ahead: MySQL Certified PHP Developer
This certification is expected to come out late this year and require one more exam, beyond the first two, for MySQL-specific PHP functions and features. It may end up as an alternate path from the Professional certification, as Microsoft chose to do with its MCSE/MCSD paths. The MySQL exams are available only in English.