Eye on Oracle

Sep 16 2008   9:46PM GMT

Oracle certifications: More than a piece of paper?

Shayna Garlick Shayna Garlick Profile: Shayna Garlick

How much is your Oracle certification worth?

It’s a question that’s been asked many times, but for now, we seem to have an answer: Not as much (numerically, at least) as it once was.

As pay for certified SAP skills is seeing significant increases, other IT certifications – - including the Oracle Forms Developer Certified Professional (OCP) – - are seeing large declines in market value. According to the compensation-focused research firm Foote Partners, those with OCP certifications have earned more than 18% less pay in the past 12 months.

Oracle Certified Professionals certainly aren’t alone – - IBM, Microsoft and Novell have seen even greater pay decreases – - but what does this mean for the future of Oracle certifications?

There is no easy answer. In fact, there seems to be a lot more questions than answers in the Oracle certification debate, many of which have been raised in Oracle’s new Oracle Certification Blog. In Paul Sorensen’s two-part post, To Certify or Not to Certify, he asserts that while certification is a great part of building a career, it’s just that – - only one part. 

So, while Sorensen doesn’t seem to have strong feelings either for or against Oracle certification, it seems that one can make a case for either side. Here are some interesting points from Oracle DBAs and experts that I have come across regarding the value of an Oracle certification:

From a tip by SearchOracle expert Craig Mullins:

-”I do recommend that professional DBAs take the time to study and pass the certification exams. Not because certification will make you a better DBA, but because it will make you more employable.”

-”Some things you just have to learn by doing. Now, I am not saying that certification is useless. Indeed, taking the test and focusing on the questions you miss can help to point out areas of weakness upon which you can improve. But does anyone really believe that someone passing a formalized test will be as capable as someone with several years of experience as a DBA?”

From Oracle DBA Howard Fosdick:

-”Whether you decide to certify is a highly personal decision. Every DBA weighs the costs and benefits differently to come to his or her own conclusion. Don’t be swayed by what others decide or by propaganda from the booming ‘certification industry’ — do what’s right for you.”

From “The power of Oracle certification” by SearchOracle expert Michael Hillenbrand:

-”Those with certifications will usually argue that they are important; those without them will most likely turn up their noses at them.”

-”While the OCA seems to be a viable option for the average DBA, those who wish to pursue certification on their own, without company sponsorship, will find it financially next to impossible to earn an OCP (two courses) or OCM (five total courses).”

Do you agree or disagree? Do continued pay decreases change your opinion? If OCP certification is so expensive to begin with, is it still worth the time and effort if you won’t be compensated for it at your job?  

6  Comments on this Post

 
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  • Shayna Garlick
    This article is based on our skewed research data that I certainly don't agree. Historically pay increases have positive correlation with certification. This is the first time I have found a research finding proving the contrary. Most IT certifications have been devalued over the years by the plethora of third party brain dump sites (perhaps an indicator of the high demand of such certifications) who sell actual test questions. Oracle Certification team has tried to address this issue by introducing mandatory requirement for hands-on courses and high exam fees so that only serious (and genuine) candidates would make this investment. The increasing popularity of the ever expanding offerings from Oracle would only make the Oracle certifications more in demand by the industry.
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  • Shayna Garlick
    Correction: his article is based on your skewed research data that I certainly don’t agree. Historically pay increases have positive correlation with certification. This is the first time I have found a research finding proving the contrary. Most IT certifications have been devalued over the years by the plethora of third party brain dump sites (perhaps an indicator of the high demand of such certifications) who sell actual test questions. Oracle Certification team has tried to address this issue by introducing mandatory requirement for hands-on courses and high exam fees so that only serious (and genuine) candidates would make this investment. The increasing popularity of the ever expanding offerings from Oracle would only make the Oracle certifications more in demand by the industry.
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  • Shayna Garlick
    I totally agree with OCP Advisor. While OCP certification might not necessarily mean that a DBA knows everything there is on Oracle, it's nevertheless a great way to start on the track to being employed as an entry level to being a DBA in the first place. However, true experiences can only be earned provided one has been really employed in the capacity of a DBA. Otherwise, some real scenarios are simply not covered in the OCP exams. I would safely say the mandatory OCP Hands-On Course Requirement is indeed a one-of-a-kind measure to ensure that the candidates have either invested time (if Company is sponsoring him/her) or money into the certification instead of relying on brain dumps. I bet you don't see such requirements in other certifications from other vendors like CISCO or Microsoft.
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  • Shayna Garlick
    One correction, only 1 course total is required for the OCA and OCP. In my experience, any level of certification makes you more employable. However, many companies have also found that certification without experience can be dangerous. So the ideal candidate has both certification and experience.
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  • Shayna Garlick
    Certification is not a reliable litmus test of a technical skillset. It does, however assure a certain degree of familiarity with the technology's concepts. The same can be said of collegiate degrees and training classes. But for the competant Information Management professional, it has quite a few benefits. For the infividual, upgrading certifications, especially the Oracle certs, are an excellent tool for expanding your knowledge on the newly implemented features of the latest release. Many of the best tools offered by Oracle are neglected simply because they haven't been used before or the DBA may be unaware of them! When all things are equal, the certification adds value to a candidate over competition - In a very competative field, this makes certification highly desireable. For the employer, the credential carried by an effective asset is indicitive of an active professional who is on a committed career path, and tells of a value for continuous learning. Keep in mind, however, the time for assessing personality traits and technical skill is in the interview, not while reading the bottom of a resume. It also adds highlevel credibility and a certain amount of prestige to the employer. OCPs or OCMs on staff are very reassuring to clients when selecting a service provider. Rally, there are no downsides to certification outside of a bit of cost and time, but there are many possible benefits. It is up to the individual to determine if the ROI is there for their situation.
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  • Shayna Garlick
    Certification without significant experience is pretty much useless, unfortunately. As an OCP (9i, 10g, and soon to be 11g) and an Oracle instructor, I can tell you what my clients tell me is a much larger problem: Trying to verify that the person who is being interviewed for the job is the person who is actually applying for the job. In this offshoring economy, many times a person will present himself/herself as a fully qualified OCP (complete with OCP logo pasted in at the top of the resume!) with years of deep experience at the technical interview ... only to find out that this isn't the real person applying for the job. Until we find out some way to verify that a person's presented expertise is really what it seems to be, and until there is sufficient +punishment+ for fraudulent behavior when encountered (banishment from IT for 5 years? fines? prison?), the discussion of whether certification is valuable or not is rather moot.
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