Have you ever wanted to prove to yourself and others just how much you really know about SQL Server? The MCITP exams are a great start; they show you have a baseline level of knowledge about the product. However, sometimes it is possible to pass the MCITP level exams with little real world experience. For those of us with many years of real world experience we can take it one step further. The next level is the Microsoft Certified Master aka MCM. Before last week, to get the MCM certification for SQL Server your only choice was to buy the training bundled with the exams. The training session was three weeks of high speed, in depth schooling across the engine delivered by some of the top experts in the industry. It was a great networking and education experience: I learned a lot and made some great friends. However, when part of the requirement for the certification was that you could afford to take three weeks off work and pay a lot of money for the privilege of taking a set of exams many still didn’t pass, it unfairly excluded some very talented people. So as of last Tuesday some great changes were announced to the SQL MCM program. Now the training is no longer bundled with the exams. After the changes to the program that were just announced, you can choose to take as much or as little training as you want. There are now many hours of free training already available online, and you can still choose to pay for instructor led training from industry experts. Once you feel you are prepared, you can sign up for the written exam for $500. If you pass that filter, then you can sign up for the 6 hour lab exam for $2000. If you fail either exam there is a waiting period before you can retake it. The exams are not available at all Prometric locations due to concerns about security and/or bandwidth in some places, but at least it is no longer restricted to just Redmond. The tests are still extremely difficult and the precautions to protect against devaluation of the exams via cheaters are extensive. But now the MCM testing is available to a wider range of experienced, knowledgeable SQL Server experts, and I hope that if you feel you go above and beyond the average senior DBA you will consider preparing for the exams. Good luck!