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DB2 Certification in a Nutshell

by Howard Fosdick

In past DBAzine articles on database certification, we’ve investigated whether DBA certification is worthwhile, how to study for the tests, and how to ensure you pass, and with which database you should certify. This article explains how to certify with DB2 UDB. It summarizes everything about the DB2 certification process in one short article. We’ll cover IBM’s certification “road map,” what to study, and the free resources IBM offers in support of your certification effort. Let’s get started …

IBM’s Certification Road Map

The first step in your certification effort is to check the vendor’s Web site for program terms and details. IBM offers lots of information and free resources at their DB2 certification home page.  If you’re going to spend hundreds of dollars and several weeks studying to certify, it’s worth a half hour of your time to cruise the vendor’s certification Web site.

The figure below diagrams IBM’s DBA certification “road map.” It shows that you start your quest for DB2 certification by taking IBM’s entry exam, exam number 700, the DB2 UDB Family test. Passing this test makes you an IBM Certified Database Associate. After completing this entry exam, take any of the exams on the second tier of the chart. Every exam you pass yields another certification. Take as many or as few as you like, in any order you like.

Figure 1: DB2 UDB Version 8 certification.

In this chart, the two key exams for DBAs are 701 and 702. The former makes you an IBM-certified DB2 DBA for the Linux, UNIX, and Windows (LUW) platforms, while the latter makes you an IBM-certified DB2 DBA for z/OS mainframes.

Candidates who pass IBM’s exam 701, DB2 for Linux, Unix, and Windows Database Administration may go on to take an advanced DBA test. This is 704, DB2 for Linux, Unix, and Windows Advanced Database Administration. IBM does not offer a corresponding “advanced DBA” test for z/OS database administrators.

Another advanced test is called the DB2 Problem Determination Mastery exam. This exam helps you develop your problem determination, identification, and solution skills. The test only costs $40 to take (other IBM tests cost $120). IBM offers a set of nine free, downloadable, self-teaching modules to prepare you for the Problem Determination Mastery exam. Download them and learn more about this exam from IBM’s Web page. Even if you do not plan to take this test, I highly recommend downloading IBM’s free tutorial modules. They’re great for self-study, and reviewing them sure doesn’t hurt if you intend to take the DB2 DBA exams.

If you are presently a certified DB2 DBA for Linux, UNIX, and Windows, but with Versions 7 or 6, you can upgrade your DBA credential to Version 8 by passing one test. This is exam 706, the DB2 for LUW DBA Version 8 Upgrade Exam (shown on the right-hand side of the chart). 

Alternatively, you can upgrade your older DB2 DBA certification by passing either test 701 for LUW environments, or test 702 for z/OS. The Upgrade Exam only covers new features of Version 8 for Linux, UNIX, and Windows, whereas tests 701 and 702 are comprehensive DBA exams that cover a wide range of database administration topics.

For those who are not yet certified, the previous paragraph tells you something important. Once you’ve become an IBM-certified DB2 DBA, you’ll need to take one test for each new release of the product that comes out in order to keep your certification current. This means taking one “upgrade test” every two to three years. If you don’t take these upgrade tests, your certification eventually becomes obsolete.

IBM offers several certification exams that the previously shown chart does not include. Among them are the DB2 UDB Version 7 exams. I recommend you take the Version 8 exams — even if your company still runs Version 7 — for the obvious reason that the Version 8 exams ensure the currency of your certification. The chart also leaves out IBM’s certification exams for database management systems other than DB2 UDB. These include Informix, Red Brick, and U2.  The authoritative source for information on all these exams is IBM’s Information Management certification Web page.

Taking the Tests

It’s easy to arrange taking the DB2 exams. Just go to the IBM section of the Prometric Corporation Web site. There you can sign up to take any IBM exam at any of the local test-taking centers. You sign up online for a time and place to take the exam, and provide payment with your credit card.

You should arrive to take your test a few minutes before test time, and bring two forms of picture ID. The test proctor will give you a PC running special test-taking software. You’ll answer the multiple-choice questions in the time allotted for the test; immediately after completing it, you’ll see a screen showing whether you passed or failed. If you passed, IBM automatically sends you your certificate and other goodies in the mail in a few weeks. If you failed, you can arrange to re-take the test at a later time. Note: Should you fail a test, and want to take the test a second time, you must pay the exam fee again.

All IBM exams cost $120 to take with two exceptions — the DB2 Problem Determination Mastery exam and the 706 DBA Upgrade Exam cost less. You can test for free at the International DB2 Users Group conferences and the IBM DB2 Information Management Conference. While IBM does not publicize pass/fail rates, experience at the International DB2 Users Group suggests that the pass rate is about 75 percent.

This DBAzine article gives you study tips while this one goes into how to ensure you pass the tests

While the number of test questions and the percent required to pass may vary, this chart gives you an idea of  what to expect:

Exam Details

Exam Exam Title Number of questions Correct questions to pass Time (minutes)
700 DB2 UDB V8 Family Fundamentals 54 61% 75
701 DB2 UDB V8for Linux, UNIX and Windows Database Administration 70 61% 90
702 DB2 UDB V8 for z/OS Database Administration 61 55% 75
703 DB2 UDB V8 Family Application Development 63 57% 75
704 DB2 UDB V8 for Linux, UNIX and Windows Advanced Database Administration 57 56% 75
705 DB2 Business Intelligence Solutions V8 56 58% 75
706 DB2 UDB V8 for Linux, UNIX and Windows Database Administration Upgrade exam 30 55% 40
442/3 DB2 Content Manager V8 64 64% / 61% 90
n/a DB2 Problem Determination Mastery n/a n/a 60

IBM’s DB2 certification Web site gives you more information on:

      • The current exam parameters (up-to-the-minute details similar to those listed in the previous chart)
      • Exam objectives and the topics each test covers
      • What you should study 
      • A short sample test to give you an idea of what the real exam is like

How to Prepare for the Exams

Given that about three out of four candidates pass each test, it should be obvious that even if you are a “DB2 expert,” you’ll still have to study to pass. Here’s what you need to do:

      1. Get hands-on DB2 UDB experience
      2. Study a good certification book 
      3. Take some “practice tests,” simulations of the real thing

To get hands-on experience, download IBM’s new “no-cost license” product, DB2 Express-C. The “C” stands for “Community Edition.” This is a free edition of DB2 UDB you can install on your Windows or Linux PC. DB2 Express-C is “real DB2,” with the same database engine as any other DB2 edition.  The only limitation with DB2 Express-C is its scalability — the product utilizes a maximum of two processors and four gigabytes of memory.

DB2 Express-C offers you the opportunity to practice with DB2 and learn to your heart’s content. It excludes certain specialized DB2 features, of course, but most of these are not covered on the core tests. You can get further information on DB2 Express-C and download it here.

Note: While it’s a bit off-topic, you might also be interested to know that you can also download a free community edition of IBM’s premier database development environment, Websphere Application Server

In selecting a book to study for the certification exams, choose one written specifically for the test you intend to take. DB2 books that are not specifically written for certification are useful as adjuncts, but they may not cover all the test topics. 

For exams 700, 701, and 703, you have a choice between two certification books; you can pass the tests with either. Read the book reviews on Amazon to see which you prefer, or page through them at your local bookstore. All other certification exams are each addressed by only a single book. Here is a list of current DB2 UDB certification titles with their links —

Certification Guides

For Exams Title Authors ISBN
700 DB2 UDB V8 Certification Exam 700 Study Guide Roger Sanders 0131424653
700, 701 DB2 UDB V8 for Linux, Unix, and Windows Database Administration Certification Guide Baklarz and Wong 0130463612
701, 706 DB2 UDB V8 Certification Exams 701 and 706 Study Guide Roger Sanders 0131840487
703 DB2 UDB V8 Certification Exam 703 Study Guide Roger Sanders 0131840495
703 DB2 UDB V8 Application Development Certification Guide Sanyal et al 0130463914
702 DB2 UDB for OS/390 V8 Certification Guide Susan Lawson 0131491202
705 Business Intelligence for the Enterprise Mike Biere 0131413031
704 Advanced DBA Certification Guide and Reference for DB2 UDB V8 for Linux, Unix and Windows Snow & Phan 0130463884

You can save money by buying the books listed in the previous chart in “used” condition, but if you do, make sure the copy includes its CDROM (if any). The CD often includes the “practice tests” I recommend that you take. The books by Roger Sanders additionally include practice questions at the end of each chapter.

All the books I have listed rate either four or five stars on Amazon’s reviews (except one). Their quality is excellent. I’ve found the books useful for general reference beyond the certification process.

Free Resources

DB2 UDB certification costs less than certifying with competing database management system products, in part, because IBM offers a great selection of free study resources  (and you’ll want to be sure to take advantage of these resources). Even if you’re not intending to certify, I highly recommend downloading these free learning resources. You can get any of them from this IBM Web page. Here is what is available:

      • Five self-study DB2 UDB training courses that help prepare you for exams 700, 701, and 703
      • Three DB2 UDB certification tutorials for exams 700, 701, and 703
      • Nine tutorial modules for the DB2 Problem Determination Mastery exam
      • Seven Business Intelligence tutorials for exam 705
      • One Content Manager workshop for exams 442 and 443
      • Seven Websphere Information Integrator tutorials

Beyond IBM’s free tutorials and self-study courses, take advantage of the DB2 product manuals, redbooks, Web forums, and other resources at your disposal. This table lists the excellent free resources available:

More Free Resources

Test for free at conferences run by the —
   International DB2 Users Group
   IBM DB2 Information Management Conference
Post questions while you study at —
   IBM’s DeveloperWorks Forums
   International DB2 Users Group List Servers
   DBForum’s DB2 forum
Free access to all DB2 documentation —
   DB2 manuals
   DB2 redbooks
IBM’s premier DB2 Web sites —
   IBM DeveloperWorks for database pro’s
   DBA Central for DBAs
Free online DB2 magazines include —
   DB2 Magazine with their certification column
   IDUG Solutions Journal
Top Web sites for DB2 professionals —
   Database Journal
   Database Toolbox

Your Next Steps

You can see that certification takes some effort. Is it worth it? Depending on how you define the question, your answer may involve increased self-satisfaction, greater value to your employer, or higher personal productivity. Many IT professionals key on the financial benefits. Certification Magazine’s annual salary survey results for 2005 shows that IBM-certified DB2 DBAs enjoy average compensation of about $83,860 (versus $79,640 for Oracle-certified DBAs and $73,380 for Microsoft-certified DBAs). The key finding in the survey is that certified professionals enjoy both salary and employment advantages in today’s still-tight job market.

This article gives you some objective information on the DB2 UDB certifications and how to get started towards obtaining them. Follow the links to IBM’s DB2 certification home page and the other resources cited in this article to continue your quest.  Good luck!


Howard Fosdick is both and IBM-certified DB2 UDB DBA and an Oracle-certified DBA.  His new book Rexx Programmer’s Reference covers everything about Rexx including database programming, interfaces, interpreters, and object-oriented Rexx.

Contributors : Howard Fosdick
Last modified 2006-03-16 04:01 PM
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