Saturday, June 28, 2008

Some thought about Oracle Certification

This blog is based on questions I have received, and seen on the Certification forum at http://forums.oracle.com

1) Where to find out about (exams, certification, requirements, etc.)

Go to http://education.oracle.com or http://otn.oracle.com and look for the Certification link. Check the menu bar on the right edge. Or (same place) click here

2) Problems with the certification process

If you have written the exams and done all the other things right, but still have not received your certification kit - look through the FAQ., You can find it under the Support menu on the certification page. If you have any otrher questions about the process - look there as well. If you honestly can't find the answer, then ask in the Oracle Forum for Certification at http://forums.oracle.com

3) Why Certify?
Two main reasons that I can come up with
  1. prove to yourself and others that you understand the basics of the topic
  2. help get a job

4) Is it worth it?

Yes.

The process of certification, when followed, forces a person to look at relevant material. Sometimes it is a review, but sometimes it is new to them. That is a good thing. And supports 'Why Certify' reason #1.

And No.

Unfortunately there are people who cheat. When cheaters get hired, their employer often gets cheated and is left with the wrong impression of the quality of certification. Then everyone who has certification is suspect. That invalidates 'Why Certify' reason #2 - for everyone.

And, (whether true or not is totally irrelevant and not something I will debate) there is a perception in some areas that vendor certifications are simply money-grabs. As far as I can tell, this perception crosses ALL vendor certifications.

5) Which certification should I get?

Only you can answer that. You need to assess whether you are an architect, a developer or an operations person.

  • Database Administrators, App Server Administrators, System Administrators, Functional or Application administrators are involved in long term operations, often years at a time. They keep the machinery of business moving, and hopefully keep it oiled and running efficiently. Good administrators will keep up with technology changes but will mainly study and expand their knowledge of internals.
  • Developers and Architects are involved in changing the direction of the business. Projects can be measured in days, weeks and months and these people specialize in change. Good developers and architects will learn how to introduce change more efficiently, but also need to learn how that change integrated and affects existing systems. A good knowledge of internals is important here as well.Reviewing the exam and certification requirements may help you decide.
6) I've made a decision. How do I get a job as a insert title here

First step is to be honest about your ability. An honestly achieved certificate will help you self-assess your ability.

Finding a fitting job may be tough. You may need to use the same research skills you learned in getting your certificate in finding an appropriate job. You need to find out which jobs are available - through contacts, friends, local user groups, news papers. Then you need to apply for those jobs, and tailor each application to explain why you are the best person for that specific job. Finally, if you don;t get the job, you should find out why and use that information to make the next application better.


7) Where do I get information, tests, books, brain dumps, and so on

First, lets be clear. Getting certified is not supposed to be easy. It is supposed to provide you with the knowledge that you will need to do your job professionally. If it was that easy, your job would not be worth that much.

And remember that cheaters who are caught will lose their certification and perhaps lose their chance at any certification in the industry. Using Brain Dumps is considered cheating. Using Gunners is considered cheating. Passing an exam based on purely memorized material without understanding the material is as bad as cheating in the long run.

Now that's out of the way, here are some ideas:

  • You can get books related to nearly each exam. Oracle Press and Sybex are some of the better known publishers. You can find these books at many local bookstores as well as many online bookstores such as http://www.amazon.com If you use an online store, try searching for the exam number, such as 1Z0-001 as found on the site listed under the first question above.
  • Join a local users group. Not only will that help you with getting a job, but many professionals are willing to lend or sell their study books.
  • Get the exam requirements (see #1) and learn to search, especially in the online documentation at http://otn.oracle.com (see Documentation) or http://docs.oracle.com or http://tahiti.oracle.com
  • Search in the forums. Go to the relevant forum (don't simply pick the first one available) and use the search capability. If you can't find anything ask for help understanding. Explain what you want to learn and explain what you currently understand. Ask for pointers in the documentation. Ask for additional reasons. (But search first ...)


Keep reminding yourself "If it was that easy, your job would not be worth that much."


8) The Hands-On Course is so expensive. Do I need to spend [ insert value here ]?

Basically, it's Oracle's certification process, and they require all of us to attend instructor-led course[s] before getting OCP, OCE or OCM certificates. (Upgrades are generally exempt.) In many ways, it is simply Oracle's way of ensuring we are exposed to a wide variety of information.

And I'm not going to debate the obvious responses about money grab ... There are many ways of meeting the requirement and some are not that expensive. Consider it a challenge and a sign of a serious OCP candidate to have met the hands-on requirement within budget.

5 comments:

LewisC said...

The need to purchase training from Oracle for a cert kind of puts me off. I think it is annoying that you can't display a credential unless you've dropped $5k on a training class.

I agree with the value of it; totally depends on the person's situation. I do a lot of interviews and I ask the people the same questions regardless of cert status but if two people come in close and one of them went out of their way to get certified, I would probably go with that person.

LewisC

Forbrich said...

$5K? Anyone who drops 5K on this is obviously not paying attention.

LewisC said...

I menat 5k for the classes you have to take. OCP requires at least 1 class. Or is there a cheaper option?

Forbrich said...

Yes. By looking at the list of course that are eligible, you will find some course down to the 1-2K range. And getting a company to sign up for a registered Work Experience program or signing up for Oracle Academy can drop that down even more, potentially to $0.

The ability to think there might options, to look for those options, to find those options ... those are key signs to me that I have an independent thinker who, together with having attained an OCP, should be a superior job candidate.

On the other hand, those people who do not recognize the price as a problem to be solved, but simply something to whine about ...

OCP Advisor said...

Hi Hans:
The 'Oracle Certification Professionals' blog is a forum for candidates to share their exam preparation approach/strategy and their test taking experiences.
I'm starting a weekly feature on the blog called "Meet the Experts".
With your permission, I would like to publish a Q&A session with you.
Future candidates would greatly benefit from your advice and be encouraged to pursue a certification path.
Please reply with your approval so that I can send the list of questions for the Q&A to you.
Thanks in advance,
Mohan, a.k.a. OCP Advisor
OCP Blog - http://ebizocp.blogspot.com