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Best Database Certifications for 2022

Ed Tittel and Earl Follis, Business News Daily Contributing Writers
Updated Dec 06, 2022

Savvy, talented, and knowledgeable database professionals are always in demand. Shore up your skills and demonstrate your expertise with certifications.

  • Database technology is crucial in multiple applications and computing tasks, and certifications help demonstrate job readiness and core competencies. 
  • Before pursuing a database platform certification, you should have a solid background in relational database management systems and the SQL language. 
  • Valuable certifications are typically tied to specific technology companies and their platforms, such as IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP.
  • This article is for IT professionals considering database certifications to further their careers. 

While database platforms have come and gone through the decades, database technology is still critical for multiple applications and computing tasks. IT professionals often seek database certifications to demonstrate their knowledge and expertise as they navigate their career paths and pursue professional growth. 

While database certifications may not be as bleeding edge as Google cloud certifications, cybersecurity certifications, storage certifications or digital forensics certifications, database professionals at all levels possess in-demand career skills — and a plethora of database-related jobs are waiting to be filled.

We’ll look at some of the most in-demand certifications for database administrators, database developers and anyone else who works with databases.

What to know about database roles and certifications

To get a better grasp of available database certifications, it’s helpful to group these certs around job responsibilities. This reflects the maturity of database technology and its integration into most aspects of commercial, scientific and academic computing. As you read about the various database certification programs, keep these job roles in mind: 

  • Database administrator (DBA). A DBA is responsible for installing, configuring and maintaining a database management system (DBMS). The job is often tied to a specific platform, such as Oracle, MySQL, DB2 or SQL Server.
  • Database developer. A database developer works with generic and proprietary application programming interfaces (APIs) to build applications that interact with a DBMS. Like DBA roles, database developer positions are also often platform-specific.
  • Database designer or database architect. A database designer or architect researches data requirements for specific applications or users and designs database structures and application capabilities to match.
  • Data analyst or data scientist. A data analyst or scientist is responsible for analyzing data from multiple disparate sources to discover previously hidden insights, determine the meaning behind data, and make business-specific recommendations.
  • Data mining or business intelligence (BI) specialist. A data mining or BI specialist focuses on dissecting, analyzing and reporting important data streams, such as customer, supply chain and transaction data and histories.
  • Data warehousing specialist. A data warehousing specialist assembles and analyzes data from multiple operational systems (such as orders, transactions, supply chain information and customer data) to establish data history, analyze trends, generate reports and forecasts, and support general ad hoc queries. 

These database job roles highlight two critical issues to consider if you want to be a database professional:

  1. You need a solid general background. First, a background in relational database management systems, including an understanding of Structured Query Language (SQL), is a fundamental prerequisite for database professionals of all stripes. 
  2. There’s a focus on proprietary technologies. Second, although various efforts to standardize database technology exist, much of the whiz-bang capability that databases and database applications deliver comes from proprietary, vendor-specific technologies. Serious, heavy-duty database skills and knowledge are tied to specific platforms, including various Oracle products (such as the open-source MySQL environment and Oracle itself,) Microsoft SQL Server and IBM DB2. Most of these certifications relate directly to those enormously popular platforms. 

Did you know?Did you know? NoSQL databases — called “not only SQL” or “non-relational” databases — are increasingly used in big data applications associated with some of the best big data certifications for data scientists, data mining and warehousing, and business intelligence.

Best database certifications

Here are details on our five best database certification picks for 2022.

1. IBM Certified Database Administrator — DB2 12

IBM is one of the leaders in the worldwide database market by any objective measure. The company’s database portfolio includes industry-standard DB2, as well as the following:

  • IBM Compose
  • Information Management System (IMS)
  • Informix
  • Cloudant
  • IBM Open Platform with Apache Hadoop

IBM also has a long-standing and well-populated IT certification program that has been around for more than 30 years and encompasses hundreds of individual credentials. 

After redesigning its certification programs and categories, IBM now has a primary data-centric certification category called IBM Data and AI. It includes a range of database credentials: 

  • Database Associate
  • Database Administrator
  • System Administrator
  • Application Developer 

IBM’s is a big and complex certification space, but one where particular platform allegiances are likely to guide readers toward the handful of items most relevant to their interests and needs. 

Database professionals who support DB2 (or aspire to) on IBM’s z/OS should check out the IBM Associate Certified DBA — Db2 12 certification. It’s an entry-level exam that addresses routine planning, working with SQL and XML, security, operations, data concurrency, application design, and concepts around database objects.

This certification requires candidates to pass one exam. Pre-exam training and familiarity with concepts, or hands-on experience, are recommended but not required. 

IBM Certified Database Administrator — DB2 facts and figures

Certification name

IBM Certified Database Administrator — Db2 12 (z/OS)

Prerequisites and required courses

None required; recommended courses are available.

Number of exams

One: C1000-122: Db2 12 for z/OS DBA Fundamentals (63 questions, 90 minutes)

Cost per exam

$200 (or local currency equivalent) per exam. Sign up for exams at Pearson VUE.

URL

https://www.ibm.com/training/certification/C8003803

Self-study materials

The certification page includes self-study materials, including a study guide and a learning path. 

Did you know? IBM’s certification offerings are among the best system administrator certifications IT professionals can achieve.

2. Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure offers a broad range of tools and add-ons for business intelligence. Azure is a cloud computing platform for application management and Microsoft-managed data centers. Microsoft certifications include various Azure offerings based on job role and experience level.

Microsoft’s certification program is role-centric, centered on the skills you need to succeed in specific technology jobs. Because Azure has such a broad scope, Azure certifications span multiple job roles. However, specific certifications exist for the following positions:

  • Data Analysts
  • Data Engineers
  • Data Scientists
  • Database Administrators 

There are also certifications for learners at different experience levels. 

For those looking to take their Azure knowledge to the next level, the Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Fundamentals certification is the perfect place to start. This certification is for beginner database administrators interested in using Azure and mastering data in the cloud. It offers foundational knowledge of core concepts while reinforcing concepts for later use in other Azure role-based certifications, such as those listed below: 

  • Azure Database Administrator Associate
  • Azure Data Engineer Associate
  • Data Analyst Associate 

Azure Data Fundamentals certification facts and figures

Certification name

Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Fundamentals

Prerequisites and required courses 

This certification does not have any prerequisites. However, for absolute beginners, Microsoft offers an Azure Fundamentals certification. 

Number of exams

One exam, DP-900, which is administered via Pearson VUE or Certiport.

Cost per exam

The exam costs $99 in the United States, though the cost changes based on where it is proctored. 

URL

https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/certifications/exams/dp-900

Self-study materials

Microsoft offers one of the world’s largest and best-known IT certification programs, so the exam is well supported with books, study guides, study groups, practice tests and other materials. Microsoft also offers a free online learning path.

3. Oracle Certified Professional, MySQL 5.7 Database Administrator 

Oracle runs its certifications under the auspices of Oracle University. The Oracle Database Certifications page lists separate tracks depending on job role and product. MySQL is perhaps the leading open-source relational database management system (RDBMS). Since acquiring Sun Microsystems in 2010 (which had previously acquired MySQL AB), Oracle has rolled out a paid version of MySQL and developed certifications to support the product. 

If you’re interested in pursuing an Oracle MySQL certification, you can choose between MySQL Database Administration and MySQL Developer. 

The Oracle Certified Professional, MySQL 5.7 Database Administrator (OCP) credential recognizes professionals who can accomplish the following tasks:

  • Install, optimize and monitor MySQL Server.
  • Configure replication.
  • Apply security.
  • Schedule and validate database backups. 

The certification requires candidates to pass a single exam (the same exam can be taken to upgrade a prior certification). Oracle recommends training and on-the-job experience before taking the exam.

Oracle Certified Professional, MySQL 5.7 Database Administrator facts and figures

Certification name

Oracle Certified Professional, MySQL 5.7 Database Administrator

Prerequisites and required courses

None required, although familiarity with the topics and hands-on experience is recommended.

Also recommended: MySQL for Database Administrators Ed4, available with Oracle’s cloud learning subscription ($4,995)

Number of exams

One exam: 1Z0-888 (75 multiple-choice questions, 120 minutes)

Cost per exam

$245 (or local currency equivalent). You can purchase an exam voucher through Oracle University.

URL

https://education.oracle.com/mysql-5-7-database-administrator/pexam_1Z0-888

Self-study materials

Exam topics and links to recommended training are available on the exam web page (click the Exam Preparation tab).

Did you know? According to Oracle, approximately 1.8 million Oracle Certified professionals globally hold certifications to advance their networking careers and professions to validate their IT expertise. 

4. Oracle Database SQL Certified Associate Certification

For individuals interested in working in the Oracle environment who have the necessary experience to become a database administrator, Oracle’s Database SQL Certified Associate Certification is another top Oracle certification and an excellent starting point. This exam encompasses an understanding of fundamental SQL concepts that individuals must grasp for database projects. 

By earning the certification, individuals demonstrate that they have a range of knowledge in core SQL concepts:

  • Familiarity with queries, data modeling, and normalization
  • Strong base understanding of the underlying SQL language
  • An ability to create and manipulate Oracle Database tables 

This certification also requires candidates to pass a single exam. While Oracle does not specify any prerequisites, the company does state candidates should have familiarity working with the command line. 

Oracle Database SQL Certified Associate Certification facts and figures

Certification name

 Oracle Database SQL Certified Associate Certification

Prerequisites and required courses

None required.

Recommended: The Oracle Database SQL Certified Associate Credential learning path, which is available with Oracle’s cloud learning subscription ($4,995)

Number of exams

 One exam: 1Z0-071 (78 multiple-choice questions, 120 minutes)

Cost per exam

1Z0-071 costs $245.

URL

https://education.oracle.com/oracle-database-sql/pexam_1Z0-071

Self-study materials

Each Oracle certification exam web page lists exam topics and recommended training courses, seminars and practice tests. Various self-study guides are available on Amazon and self-study sites like Udemy and Coursera.

5. SAP HANA: SAP Certified Technology Associate — SAP HANA 2.0 SPS05

SAP SE has an extensive portfolio of business applications and analytics software, including cloud infrastructure, applications and storage. The SAP HANA platform’s foundation is an enterprise-grade relational database management system that can be run as an appliance on-premises or in the cloud. The cloud platform lets customers build and run applications and services based on SAP HANA. 

SAP offers a comprehensive certification program built to support its various platforms and products. We’re featuring the SAP Certified Technology Associate — SAP HANA cert because it aligns closely with other certifications we’ve highlighted and is in high demand among employers, according to job board surveys. 

This certification ensures database professionals can install, manage, monitor, migrate and troubleshoot SAP HANA systems. It covers the following skills:

  • Managing users and authorizations
  • Applying security
  • Ensuring high availability 
  • Effective disaster-recovery techniques 

SAP recommends that certification candidates get hands-on practice through formal training or on-the-job experience before attempting this exam. The SAP Learning Hub is a subscription service that gives certification candidates access to a library of learning materials, including e-learning courses and course handbooks. 

The annual subscription rate for individual users on the Professional certification track is $2,760. This online training program is designed for those who run, support, or implement SAP software solutions. Though this may seem like a steep price for online training, you will likely be able to pass any SAP certification exams you put your mind to by leveraging all the learning resources available to SAP Learning Hub Professional subscribers. 

Typically, SAP certifications achieved on one of the two most recent SAP solutions are considered current and valid. SAP contacts professionals whose certifications are nearing end-of-life status and provides information on maintaining their credentials.

SAP Certified Technology Associate facts and figures

Certification name

SAP Certified Technology Associate — SAP HANA 2.0 SPS05

Prerequisites and required courses    

None required.

Recommended: Hands-on experience and the following courses: 

  • SAP HANA Installation & Operations SPS12 (HA200) 
  • High Availability and Disaster Tolerance Administration SPS05 (HA201)
  • Monitoring and Performance Tools SPS05 (HA215)
  • Database Migration using DMO SPS05 (HA250)

Number of exams

One exam: SAP Certified Technology Associate — SAP HANA 2.0 SPS05, exam code C_HANATEC_17 (80 questions, 180 minutes)

Cost per exam

$500

URL

https://training.sap.com/certification/c_hanatec_17-sap-certified-technology-associate—sap-hana-20-sps05-g/

Self-study materials

The certification web page includes a link to sample questions. SAP HANA trade books and certification guides are available on Amazon. The SAP Help Center offers product documentation and a training and certification FAQs page. The SAP Learning Hub (available on a subscription basis) provides access to online learning content.

Tip: To broaden your skill set, consider pursuing the best sales certifications to better sell and implement various IT solutions, including databases.

Beyond the top 5 database certifications

Additional database certification programs can further the careers of IT professionals who work with database management systems. 

While most colleges with computer science programs offer database tracks at the undergraduate, master and Ph.D. levels, well-known vendor-neutral database certifications exist, including the following: 

  • ICCP certifications. The Institute for the Certification of Computing Professionals (ICCP) offers its unique Certified Data Professional and Certified Data Scientist credentials. Learn more about ICCP certifications from the ICCP website.
  • Enterprise DB certifications. EnterpriseDB administers a small but effective certification program with two primary certs: the EDB Certified Associate and the EDB Certified Professional

These are some additional certifications: 

These credentials represent opportunities for database professionals to expand their skill sets — and salaries. However, such niches in the database certification arena are generally only worth pursuing if you already work with these platforms or plan to work for an organization that uses them.

Key takeaway: Pursuing additional database certifications can be helpful for professional development if you already work with these platforms or plan to work with them in the future. 

Job board search results

Before pursuing certifications, consider their popularity with employers to gain a helpful perspective on current database certification demand. Here’s a job board snapshot to give you an idea of what’s trending.

Certification

SimplyHired 

 Indeed 

 LinkedIn Jobs 

 LinkUp 

Total

IBM Certified Database Administrator — DB2

867

1,337

1,911

753

4,868

Azure Data Fundamentals

2,052

4,154

283

2,322

8,811

Oracle Certified Professional, MySQL Database Administrator

339

473

143

23

978

Oracle Database SQL Certified Associate Certification

138

177

10

273

598

SAP HANA

32

37

57

466

592

If the sheer number of available database-related positions isn’t enough motivation to pursue a certification, consider average salaries for database administrators. SimplyHired reports $91,949 as the national average in the U.S., ranging from $64,171 to over $131,753. Glassdoor’s reported average is somewhat lower at $84,161, with a top rung for experienced senior DBAs right around $134,000.

Choosing the right certification

Choosing the best IT certifications to enhance your skills and boost your career can be overwhelming, especially as many available certifications are for proprietary technologies. While picking a database certification can feel like locking yourself into a single technology family, it is worth remembering that many database skills are transferable. Additionally, pursuing any certification shows your willingness to learn and demonstrates competence to current and future employers. 

Ultimately, choosing which certification to pursue depends on the technologies you use at work or would like to use at a future employer.

Jeremy Bender contributed to the reporting and writing in this article. 

Image Credit: PrathanChorruangsak / Getty Images