How do I get certified in MySQL 5.0?
This post was first written in November 2011, and outlines how to attain the MySQL 5.0 Developer Certification from Oracle. In March 2014, Oracle updated the certification process for MySQL 5.6. You can read more about the MySQL 5.6 Developer Certification here.
Updated 17 May 2014
The old MySQL 5.0 Developer exams (1Z0-871 and 1Z0-872) have now been retired and replaced with a single MySQL 5.6 Developer exam – 1Z0-882. Check out this blog post for more information on the new exam.
Note that anyone who is currently a certified MySQL Developer will retain their certification, but going forward anyone hoping to become certified will have to study for the new exam and will need additional study materials – the old Certification Study Guide listed below will no doubt help for some aspects of the new exam, but it won’t cover all the topics required.
What is MySQL?
MySQL is an open-source relational database management system (RDBMS). Many hosting companies provide MySQL databases as part of their standard web hosting packages, and this has led to MySQL being widely used as the back-end database for many open-source web applications such as Drupal, WordPress, Joomla and phpBB. SQL is Structured Query Language, the programming language used to create, retrieve, update and manage the data in the MySQL database. SQL (or variants of SQL) is supported by a number of different RDBMS including MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, PostgreSQL and Oracle. So, if you have a good knowledge of MySQL you can easily apply those skills to other SQL systems. Sun Microsystems bought the MySQL AB company in 2008, and Sun in turn was purchased by Oracle in 2010. This means that MySQL is officially an Oracle “product” but it is still freely available to download under an open-source license. One side effect of these acquisitions is that the MySQL certification process is now integrated into the Oracle Certified Professional program.
Why bother getting MySQL Certification?
This is often the first question prospective students ask me – why bother with certification? In the current economic climate (especially in Ireland) it is increasingly difficult to get a job. Having an IT certification certainly helps your CV stand out when it lands on the desk of a recruiter. Oftentimes recruiters are inundated with applications, and they need a quick method to sort CVs into those who’ll be called for interview and those who won’t. Obviously, relevant experience tends to be considered more significant than certification, but if you don’t currently have that experience, then having an IT certification implies that you have a certain level of competence, which might just help your application make it into the “call for interview” pile. Even for those of you with relevant experience, attaining an IT certification will formalise your competence in a given subject and should help you get one step closer to being interviewed. And, once certified, you get a lovely certificate 🙂
Ok, but how do I get MySQL certified?
Still reading? Ok, to get certified as a MySQL 5.0 Developer you need to pass two exams:
- 1Z0-871 MySQL 5 Developer Certified Professional Exam, Part I
- 1Z0-872 MySQL 5 Developer Certified Professional Exam, Part II
Each exam is computer-based (administered by PearsonVue), consists of 70 questions and takes 90 minutes. To pass, you need a score of more than 60%. For each question you’ll be shown a number of possible answers and you have to select one (or sometimes multiple) correct answers. There are no simulations and therefore you don’t have to type any SQL code. Each exam currently costs EUR154.00 + VAT. Note that should you fail an exam, you’ll have to wait 14 days before attempting a re-sit.
How do I prepare for the MySQL developer exams?
In my opinion, the best way to prepare for the exams is by reading the official MySQL 5.0 Certification Study Guide. This is written by the same team who write the exam questions and the book contains all the theory you need to pass the exams. The book also comes with a DVD containing sample exam questions. Note that this book contains 42 chapters, organised into four sections as follows:
- Chapters 1-11 cover the topics for the first MySQL Developer exam
- Chapters 12-22 cover the topics for the second MySQL Developer exam
- Chapters 23-32 cover the topics for the first MySQL Database Administrator (DBA) exam
- Chapters 33-42 cover the topics for the second MySQL DBA exam
If you’d like to attain MySQL Certified DBA status, then by all means keep reading after chapter 22, but I’m only going to deal with the developer exams here. My advice would be to work through the book, trying out the examples to get your head around the theory. If you’re like me, I only really understand things by trying things out, and the best way to do that is by typing the SQL code into the MySQL command prompt. Sure, you could use a graphical interface to MySQL such as MySQL Workbench, or phpMyAdmin, but you’ll learn a lot more via the command prompt and generating lots of beeps with errors in your SQL. Once you have a good grasp of the theory then try the sample exam questions, and keep repeating the exam questions until you’re consistently getting around 80% of them correct. If you find yourself getting the same questions incorrect again and again, then go back to the book and review the theory once more. If you’re consistently getting high scores in the sample questions, then it’s time to book an exam via PearsonVue. This book is quite technical and assumes a certain level of experience in IT technologies. Even for an experienced developer such as myself (I had quite a bit of Microsoft SQL Server experience before reading it), the book is still pretty heavy-going. So if you’re a relative novice at database development, I would advise starting off with a more gentler introduction to SQL. The book we’ve been using is called Head First SQL. The Head First series of books try to teach technical subjects in a light-hearted way which aims to make the subject matter easy to understand, and easy to remember. In Head First SQL, the examples consist of databases for mixing cocktails, tracking clowns (no, really) and dating websites. Experienced developers will probably find the Head First series a bit too simplistic, and maybe even down right annoying (they have this habit of showing you the wrong way of doing something before telling you the right way), but they are excellent books for novices.
How long does it take to get MySQL Certified?
Consider a piece of string. How long is it? In all seriousness, the length of time it takes to get certified depends on:
- Your existing level of expertise in database systems
- How much time you can devote to studying
If you feel you need to work through the Head First SQL book to get a basic understanding of SQL – then I would allow 2-3 weeks to get through the book content and trying out the example exercises. Once you have a basic understanding of SQL, you should be able to complete the MySQL Study Guide in approximately 2 weeks of full-time study, but give yourself plenty of time to work through the sample questions before sitting the exam. I ended up doing each chapters sample questions about 4 times each, before I sat the exam – luckily I passed them both first time! Best of luck with your exams!
Note – I’ve now disabled comments on this post. I’ll blog about the new 5.6 Developer exam here.