Oracle's acquisition of Sun didn't just marry one of the world's premier enterprise software vendors with a major server manufacturer, it included Sun's MySQL, the open-source database platform that makes up a quarter of the popular "LAMP stack" (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) that fueled the rise of Web 2.0. During the 2009 merger, industry pundits like Linux Magazine's Bryan Richard worried that Oracle would "pull the plug" on MySQL or, at least, hobble it to spur the adoption of more expensive database tools.
Instead, Oracle integrated MySQL certification and training into its world-class professional development program. Articles in Forbes and other mainstream publications chronicled the rise of open-source databases as tools complimentary to Oracle's tightly controlled systems. In many ways, MySQL brings custom database programming to companies that might otherwise settle for outdated or outsourced systems. Today, database administrators who could only point at their portfolios as evidence of their programming prowess can earn MySQL certifications backed by one of the most respected names in information technology.
Jobs for professionals with MySQL training
While Oracle database development remains a tight niche, MySQL training opens doors to jobs with companies of all sizes and in a variety of industries. In 2010, software developer Mark Hinkle tracked five years of database job postings using information from Indeed.com and reported on his blog that there appeared to be a significant increase in the number of salaried jobs for professionals with MySQL certification.
While the majority of database administrator jobs still require Oracle or SAP certification, MySQL jobs are shifting from mostly freelance gigs and roles at Web startups into the kind of higher-paying positions DBAs already enjoy in places like law firms, hospitals, and enterprise companies.
A similar job posting analysis by enterprise software vet Dennis Moore on the Enterprise Irregulars blog found that most of the companies hiring professionals with MySQL database certification listed jobs for SQL Server administrators. Microsoft and Sybase, two of Oracle's competitors, still offer versions of SQL Server that rely on the same structured query language that powers Oracle's MySQL platforms. MySQL training programs often include overviews of the slight differences between these different forks of core SQL.
Earning MySQL certification
Foote Partners' 2011 salary survey of IT professionals showed little difference in pay between database administrators who completed MySQL certification and those who relied on MySQL training and experience to earn their jobs. However, as Moore and Hinkle point out in their studies, many more traditional employers rely on MySQL certification to help vet job candidates. When MySQL jobs mostly existed in Silicon Valley startups, companies often reviewed developers' code and references to make their decisions. Today, hiring managers with little or no development experience prefer the assurance of seeing a MySQL certification from Oracle in addition to a strong resume.
Oracle now offers four levels of MySQL certification:
- Oracle Certified Associate, MySQL 5
- Oracle Certified Professional, MySQL 5 Developer
- Oracle Certified Professional, MySQL 5 Database Administrator
- Oracle Certified Expert, MySQL 5.1 Cluster Database Administrator
Each level charts a developer's progress from coder to system architect. Unlike other certification tracks, these exam-based certifications rely exclusively on MySQL training and experience. Prospective developers can prepare for exams using self-study materials, targeted training courses, or formal IT degree programs.