9 Replies Latest reply on Oct 22, 2012 5:39 PM by Matthew Morris

    Oracle's Certification Benefit?

      I have become disappointed in Oracle's own recognition of their Certification programs. I am currently OCP for 7.x,8.0,8i, & 9i, (and taking 10g and '10g on Linux Expert' in about a week.) I have been Oracle certified for almost 10years now.

      Even upon completing 8i and 9i, Oracle neglected to send a cheesy Lapel Pin, as they had done in the past. I have visited the OCP website often, to see 'come back to look for more benefits soon' and a discount on Oracle Press Books. (Shopping EBAY often leads to better discounts.) Has anyone ever seen any other benefits (excepting attending OpenWorld?)

      Having considered getting a Certified Master credential, I have determined it is cost prohibitive. Without a sponsoring organization, $2000 for a test, plus 2 ILT's, a total of $6k-10k seems excessive. Over the past 10 years, I have already spent upwards of $16k on my own education.

      Oracle has not gotten the word out to managers and employers (via their sales reps) that obtaining a Certification from Oracle denotes any confidence from Oracle.

      For those of us who have gone through the trouble of Certification, it would be a useful tool (when securing employment) to have some statistics on the numbers of Certified Individuals, ie:

      # of OCP's for 7.x
      # of OCP's for 8.0
      # of OCP's for 8i
      # of OCP's for 9i
      # of OCP's for 10g
      # of OCP'S HAVING BOTH 7.x and 8.0 (etc)
      # of 9i Linux Experts
      # of 10g Linux Experts
      # of 10g RAC Experts

      It would also be useful to seperate these stats by Country, as well. At first, this may seem like an outrageous request (especially if all this information is stored in a MS database 8-) ! ) But if you begin to consider all the new features implemented since 7.x, you begin to realize this should be no big deal. I'll bet if Oracle Certification department posted the database names and table specifications, OCP's would come out of the woodwork to write the SQL.
        • 1. Re: Oracle's Certification Benefit?
          The value of being certified is hard to define. At best (aside from what is proctored at the expert/master level), all it means is that you were exposed to questions about Oracle and were able to correctly answer a sufficient number of them. Does passing mean you studied and practiced, or does it mean you bought an exam dump and memorized the answers to questions?

          I was taking MCSE exams, and on one of the core exams, I felt like I was being blown away score-wise. There were tons of questions about something that was barely covered in the MS academic press books (their official study guides). I felt for sure there was no way I was going to pass that exam, but I did. When I got home, I joined one of the "real exams" sites and downloaded the test I just took. Question for question, picture for picture, there was the exam I just took. That was the end of exams for me. Why bother with certification when you're competing with people who take that route?

          Jacking up the price of ILT and making that a requirement was like adding a screen door on a leaking submarine. The damage to the credibility of certification was already done and adding a filter/screen door to the program did nothing to cure the patient.

          Without doubt, I know there are exam sites where people (the operators and test takers) are in collusion to photograph each and every exam question. How else can exam dump sites have that material in such accurate detail?
          • 2. Re: Oracle's Certification Benefit?
            When preparing for any Oracle test, I have typically used 4 or more resources when available:
            1 - Oracle Press Books -
            Obviously, they have Oracle's Seal of Approval
            2 - Oracle approved practice tests
            I prefer transcender, although self-test seems slightly more affordable, I haven't tried them. Important to note, though, Oracle Linux Expert (10g - 1z0-046) and Oracle 10g RAC (1z0-048) they are not available. I was only able to find 1 available for the former from other parties, and there may be a small handful available for the latter. It may, however, be a more beneficial study effort to write your own.
            3 - Oracle's Documentation for the product.
            Some times, you have to concern yourself with something that just doesn't quite register. An example coming to mind is when reducing a hash partitioned object, you issue 'coalesce' and Oracle picks which partition to dump. Studying installation and platform specific documents are also useful.
            4 - Practice - hands on
            99% of Oracle products are available for download, and using them to 'study' doesn't violate the licensing agreement.

            Now, oddly enough, Oracle ILT replaces all 4 for me. If I attend the correct ILT training, I can usually take and pass the corresponding test if taken less than a week from class. (I have a memory leak...)

            Sadly, I have met some 'experienced' individuals who were given more credibility. There is no guarantee an individual wasn't given the job of DBA merely because they were someone's friend or brother-in-law. I met DBA's who, for years, did little more than re-org objects and monitor backups. When something difficult was required, a highly paid consultant was called in for a resolution.

            Oracle tests are anything but easy. They are actually designed to separate those who would be and those who could be. The 'New Features for ADMIN' tests are some of the most difficult I have ever taken. The incredible SCOPE of these tests are quite overwhelming. IMHO - someone with OCP status, reqardless of how obtained, indicates that person has a solid understanding of HOW the DB works, how to make it work, and where to research when it doesn't.

            FWIW, I started studying Oracle when most of my cronies started MSCP.
            • 3. Re: Oracle's Certification Benefit?
              Michael Milligan, President, Biomed Analytics

              Your last post here was from four years ago. Still, you echoed my thoughts exactly. I believe Oracle has done a little better getting the word out of to employers of the benefits of Oracle certification. My first OCP was in 2004. Not only did I not get a raise, my boss didn't bother to congratulate me. However, when I left that company, I did have better offers than I had previously. A couple of years later I started on other certifications and over the last year and a half got my OCP Advanced PL/SQL Developer, OCE SQL Expert and OCA Solaris 10 certs.

              Regarding value to me personally, studying for and passing the exams required for the certification (four for 9i DBA, three for Advanced PL/SQL Developer, and one each for SQL Expert and Solaris 10 Associate) tells me I understand the things the Oracle defines as most important to know. It provides direction and structure to my studies, shows me areas where I'm weak despite my experience, and provides me a credential when I succeed.

              Your point about experienced people who know how to do a few things is spot on. I interviewed someone who had just retired from the state of Utah with the last 10 years being a PL/SQL Developer. He didn't know what a cursor variable was, wasn't even clear on how a static cursor was used, and didn't know many, many other elementary PL/SQL concepts. It was clear he had a cushy job and, instead of being curious and furthering his knowledge, was satisfied working in a very narrow area. I believe that those who speak of experience as being the "holy grail" and certification as being "just a piece of paper" are either misguided or afraid to tackle it. Even the best DBAs and Developers don't use every area of their tool that Oracle defines as important.

              For me, 1Z0-146: Advanced PL/SQL, was the hardest exam I've ever taken, including while getting my Biology degree in college. It took studying for more than 1,000 hours, practicing, finding multiple legitimate sources to study from, like the Self Test Software practice exams, the manuals, etc. I studied about 2,500 pages and had to have a very good understanding of each concept. For that exam, I found the Oracle documentation to be the best source. In particular, the "Notes" sections at the end of each concept or package description had invaluable information I found later on the exam.

              I'm thinking about taking 1Z0-055: 9i to 11g Upgrade. What you said about how hard the upgrade exams are isn't encouraging!

              I came upon your post because, like you, I was trying to get statistics - in my case, on the number of people who have OCPs as both DBA and Advanced PL/SQL Developer.

              I enjoyed your posts. Good luck.

              Michael Milligan
              West Layton, Utah
              • 4. Re: Oracle's Certification Benefit?
                Matthew Morris
                I came upon your post because, like you, I was trying to get statistics.
                Other than a bare number of the total certified individuals, they don't give out breakdowns.

                I'm thinking about taking 1Z0-055: 9i to 11g Upgrade. What you said about how hard the upgrade exams are isn't encouraging!
                Upgrade exams are 'different' than most. I don't know that I'd call them harder. The subject matter is extremely broad which can lead to increased study time. However, because of the broad scope, the depth of knowledge required by the questions tend to be shallow. You generally need to know what new features exist, why they were added, how they add to the functionality of the database, and possibly how to implement them. Because new features can (and do) come in many different sections of the database, the information is spread all through the documentation rather than being focused in one or two manuals. The total number of objectives listed by Oracle Education tends to be comparable to other tests. However, whereas an exam like 1Z0-146 send to have a topic area and 3-5 objectives that drill into that area, the specific objectives on upgrade tests are generally only loosely related... if at all.

                If you go to the Exams page of the Oracle Certification Prep website: http://www.oraclecertificationprep.com/apex/f?p=OCPSG:Exams and look at the exam details page of 1Z0-146 vs those of 1Z0-155, you'll see that 055 has a much larger number of relevant Oracle manuals and articles. As I said, this will tend to mean more reading while prepping for the exam, but I'm of the opinion that the questions are a bit easier if you perform due diligence in getting ready for the exam.
                • 5. Re: Oracle's Certification Benefit?
                  Brandye Barrington-Oracle
                  I realize that the original post was many moons ago, but I just wanted to thank everyone for their comments. Thoughtful feedback helps us improve our program. With the speed (or lack there of) of which the wheels of change turn in a company the size of Oracle, it may not seem so - but we do take feedback to heart and try to use it to help improve our program. Without people who are interested in certification, we would not have a program, so we want Oracle Certifications to continue to offer value for candidates.

                  Thanks for your feedback and your support.
                  Brandye Barrington
                  Certification Form Moderator
                  • 6. Re: Oracle's Certification Benefit?
                    This [url http://groups.google.com/group/comp.databases.oracle.server/browse_thread/thread/ae7dcb20e052ecdb]ten year old usenet thread is still apropos.

                    I would add since then my experience with OCM's has been quite positive. I still don't think it would have been worth it for me. 25 to 12 years ago, maybe, it would have aligned better with my work, not so much the last ten years.
                    • 7. Re: Oracle's Certification Benefit?
                      Matthew Morris
                      That thread is exactly as applicable today as it was ten years ago... which is not saying a great deal. Generally the people who vehemently insist that IT certifications have no value have an agenda. Either they aren't certified, or failed a test and so must take the tack that the tests are useless and don't assess real-world knowledge. That said, the arguments against certifications generally come in some variant of the following:

                      - People cheat on the tests and therefore having a certification is not a reliable means of determining knowledge.
                      - The topics on the tests doesn't cover what you need to know in the real world.
                      - Employers 'in the know' realize the certifications aren't useful and ignore them.

                      People who are willing to cheat on the tests are probably also willing to lie about their experience, 'enhance' their resumes, and try to gain enough of a surface veneer of knowledge using 'Oracle Interview Question' books to try to get an interview and skate through it. Certifications didn't create these people and eliminating certifications won't make them go away. Any hiring manager must take due diligence to weed them out during the interview. For that matter, cheating is rampant in the universities these days. My wife taught college-level History and had 1-2 in every class that blatantly cheated on their work. You don't generally see people claiming that this means college degrees have become useless.

                      I write certification study guides. I know about the information that is asked on these tests. The vast majority of the information that is in the topics is valuable to know. I will grant that upgrade tests tend to be all over the map, and may test you on features that you might personally not use. I will also say that understanding the topics on the certification exams is not enough to be able to perform the activities of a DBA, Developer, etc. However, a test that truly covered all of the information you really need to know for that would be nearly impossible to write, to study for, and to pass. What the tests do provide is a general background in the information that someone working in that field should be cognizant of.

                      The last point I can state from personal experience is baloney. I have seen certifications provide a positive factor from both sides of the interview table. There is no way that a candidate with an 11G DBA OCP but no experience would be hired over a candidate with no certification but several years of experience. However, they do act to tip the balance in making decisions and they do help when resumes are in the initial sort process for determining who to interview. Even when the hiring DBAs don't give much weight to certifications, they never act as a negative factor. No hiring manager decides not to hire a candidate that's a good fit simply because they have an OCP and the manager feels OCPs don't mean anything.

                      Outside of the three above points, I can tell you that I am a better programmer and DBA in part because of certifications. I earned several certifications soon after the program started, but then didn't do anything to upgrade for several years. I didn't take the 9i DBA upgrade test until 10G had been out for several years. When I finally studied for the upgrade test, I found several PL/SQL enhancements that answered problems I was experiencing in development. I immediately started writing better code because I went after that certification. If you actually study for the test as you should, then that process will increase your value as an Oracle professional and boost your career prospects. Having the piece of paper and a line for your resume is just icing on the cake.
                      • 8. Re: Oracle's Certification Benefit?
                        Actually, several of the people in that thread who were against certs were (and still are) functioning at a very high level.
                        • 9. Re: Oracle's Certification Benefit?
                          Matthew Morris
                          jgarry wrote:
                          Actually, several of the people in that thread who were against certs were (and still are) functioning at a very high level.
                          I didn't say they weren't. What I said was:

                          "+Generally the people who vehemently insist that IT certifications have no value have an agenda. Either they aren't certified,+
                          +or failed a test and so must take the tack that the tests are useless and don't assess real-world knowledge.+"

                          Most of the people that I have encountered in my career who were vehemently against certifications were highly knowledgeable IT professionals in that field... but were not themselves certified. I know of several who took and failed a test, and then never took another because "The exams don't cover real-world knowledge". In every case, they had assumed that because they were knowledgeable, the test would be simple and so they did not spend sufficient time preparing for it. Failing it was embarrassing enough that there had to be a reason (that wasn't their fault) for not having passed it. Whether they took and failed a test or not, they still had an agenda. Not being certified (and for that matter failing a certification test) doesn't mean that they weren't knowledgeable or good at their jobs. However, they still had a personal reason to be an anti-certification advocate. They didn't want to be compared unfavorably with someone who did have more certifications in the field.

                          One of my favorite movie lines is something from "Other People's Money', where Danny Devito's character has been asked why he has lawyers on retainer when he hates the profession. His response is: "Lawyers are like nukes. Nobody likes them. But they have theirs, so I have mine." While I do not consider certifications to be in the same 'hatred' category as lawyers, it is certain that part of the reason I became certified was so that I would not lose out to someone who was less qualified than me, but had an IT certification that I did not.

                          That said, I have a several Oracle certifications and a handful of non-Oracle ones. I will never claim that any one of them or all of them combined *in and of themselves* proves that I am an expert at any given subject. Picking just one, I hold the Application Express Expert certification. Passing that certification means that I am very familiar with the Apex interface. It does *not* mean that I can develop worth a crud in that environment (I can, but the _certification_ does not prove it). Passing the certification, however, in conjunction with several years of developing apps in Apex at multiple companies is a strong indicator on my resume that Apex is something that I can do well. Whenever I am asked outright about what a given certification that I hold means, I will answer honestly about what types of information is in the test and how it does (or does not) compare to the real world.