Certification

Certification, What, Why, How….

Oracle Certification is among the most popular and most highly rated certifications worldwide. A lot of people write different exams and there are many many so far who have got certified. I am asked a question many times that how one should prepare for it and is it really worth to prepare for it as well? I shall try to put my thoughts about the question which I hope shall help others in taking right decision when then they will have it in their mind.

What is certification ( not just of Oracle but any)

Certification is a means to tell others that you have prepared about a certain topic and you have demonstrated to be good in it by clearing the exam which was conducted by the product vendor itself. Who else will be the better one to judge your skills than those who actually prepared it? When you clear a certification, its a reflection of your commitment and sincerity that you wanted to be acquainted with the knowledge of that module/track , you prepared for it and cleared it. So a certification is this only. It doesn’t show that you have a complete mastery of that module( it was never prepared to reflect that in the first place). No one , after clearing an exam of any kind in any industry can say that he/she is an expert of said technology. In an exam of few hours/days, its not possible to put all the scenarios , environments, issues which are out there in the real world. There are always new challenges which arise with the ever growing and improving technology. Can you imagine that someone can claim that he/she is the best architect in the world because he/she has cleared his/her Civil Engineering? Nope that’s next to impossible. An exam check certain basic and to some extent, some medium level information which any professional of that technology must have. So assuming in your mind that just because you have cleared an exam, now you are supposed to be called or should be considered as an Guru in that module is simply living in a fallacy. The same hold true for the score as well. Does the person who scores just the passing scores is inferior to the one who scored it 100%? I don’t think so? I know many so who are not good in the cramming of the stuff and because , most of the exams, both academic and professional, are having a huge content which is based on the cramming of some fine points of the material, don’t score well. They do pass the exam but not with 100%. There are many who are good in remembering the stuff and score much high. But the former, most of the time are very good in the practical implementation of the technology and thus are more useful to the real world than those who merely score high but are not so good in the practicals, an essential skill to have in the real world. If one can be good on both the aspects, nothing like that, but score alone too doesn’t prove that you are good/better/best/average.

The above said applies completely to Oracle certification and over its various tracks as well. Oracle has prepared couple of tracks which checks a person’s basic and medium level efficiency. From the induction of the Oracle Certified Masters track, now the practical aspects of the person’s knowledge is also getting verified. But as this is the last level of the certification, one must clear all the previous levels before going for it. Even if you clear the most basic level certification, Oracle Certified Associate, or clear OCM, don’t get into the trap of assuming that you know it all. You don’t, no one does. Learning is a constant process which must continue. Steve Jobs(Apple) said once in a speech, “stay hungry , stay foolish” and I guess, this sums up everything.

Is it really worth of the effort?

Well, let me ask you a question before I attempt to take this question. There is a surgeon who is certified to operate you but he never did any real time surgery so far, will you let him touch you? Here is one more, there is a person who assisted a surgeon for many years and knows almost all about it but he is not certified, is not holding a degree which authenticates that he can operate over others, will you let him touch you? Tough question! Well, I guess you should have got the answer. Read above to know what is a certification? Its just a reflection of the sincerity of yours about the technology. You want to stay current with the technology that’s why you took up all the new features exams. By being certified over multiple versions doesn’t mean that you know about them, all the features of every version. So than what’s the worth of being certified, to put in all the efforts, burn the mid night oil for it? Because, being certified gives you a confidence, a feeling that you have put in some efforts to know about the know-hows of the module. Because this would show others the same as well. And think about it, is it going to do any harm to you if you will get an authentic piece of paper which would say that you are now a certified professional in the mentioned track, no I don’t think so? If it won’t hurt you than why not go for it? I can assure you that by preparing for the exan, there would be atleast one thing new that you would learn because the exams are not just focussed over a certain area or section of the topic but they cover it all(at least most of it). So it may happen that today you are not using Automatic Storage Management in your company but you have studied about it in your exam, this would give you a fare idea what you are dealing with when in the next project or company you are going to shake hand with it. And as like its said all the time, the worst thing is not to try and fail but not trying at all! If you are certified plus you have experience on the technology as well, you got it all covered. In case you are just starting and have a certification, you have shown to your future employer(s) that you are serious about this field and you have already started preparing yourself for it. So yes, its actually will be the worth of your effort, may not be directly but in other ways, but it surely will be worth of the entire time , effort and of course money spent over it.

How shall I prepare for it, the best way to make sure that I pass it for sure?

Hmm are there any global rules to make a successful marriage ? No right? What worked for me, may not work for you. So I guess the same is applicable about the preparation strategies as well. All have a different way of study the stuff, some start from theory than do the demos. Some start things with the action first, they want to see it happening first. Once they know that what ever is in the material actually runs, than they start with the theory. So there is no such one rule or methodology to follow to prepare for the certication tracks. Make it sure that you can’t skip anything, be it theory, be it practicals, anything and everything will be in the exam. So anyone who is just thinking that merely cramming the book is enough, or on the other hand, some one who thinks that he knows it all how to make the stuff work , doesn’t need to read about the theory at all, both will have a tough time in the exam. You need to prepare the material in both practical and theoretical aspects. It is always helpful to check with other sources as well about the topics. You need to cover it all if you want to have good hopes that you would clear the exam. I shall suggest one thing though, preparation will be much easier if you can find a partner with you. If prepared as a team, the process becomes amazingly interesting and easy. So besides finding the technical resources, try finding someone who can prepare with you for the same topic. I can assure you , you won’t regret.

Final words

So here is a long winded answer of mine(an attempt at least) for some common questions that I get about the certification all the time. I hope it answers to some extent about the above mentioned topics. Before I conclude, its worth to mention that Joel Goodman wrote a very good piece of note about the same topic which is a must read. Here is the link to it.

http://dbatrain.wordpress.com/2009/03/03/preparing-for-oracle-dba-certification-tests

I wish you all best wishes for your preparation. Do leave a note here if you think anything more can be added to the topic. Good luck for your preparation and hope you get it with flying colors.