Oracle Database Management Strategic Directions

1. Best Practices for managing Oracle database servers.
2. Oracle Fusion Middleware products like J2EE, ADF, XML, BPEL, SOA, Web Services, Discoverer...).
3. Oracle Application Servers and Apache.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

How Important is Oracle Certification?

I keep going back and forth about Oracle Certification as to what are its true benefits. So I thought I would ask other DBAs what they think of Oracle Certification.

Oracle says:
"Oracle certifications are tangible, industry-recognized credentials that can help you succeed in your IT career and provide measurable benefits to your employer. Oracle certifications are a reliable validation of training and experience that can accelerate your professional development, improve your productivity, and enhance your credibility. For IT professionals and managers, each Oracle Certification level signifies a benchmark of experience and expertise recognized for its value and relevance in the IT industry. Today there are over 350,000 Oracle Certified Professionals worldwide."

The benefits of certification initially seem obvious. Certification is a way to establish some measurement of the knowledge of an IT professional. However, there are some of the negatives I have encountered in recent years:
1) We have hired two interns out of college over the last five years that were Oracle certified before they got out of college. Neither had even one minute of real Oracle DBA experience.
2) I have interviewed numerous certified DBAs that have brought in their certification test results but they could not answer the most basic questions on Oracle fundamentals.
3) Some of the certification companies do a really good job of preparing you for almost the exact test, which makes it a lot easier for a studious person to pass the certification test.
4) An Oracle DBA told me how his wife (a nurse) helped him prepare for one of the certification tests and one day she told him she thought she could pass the test. They had her take the certification test and she passed it just from studying the certification study guides.
5) I have never had an experienced confident DBA introduce themselves as a certified DBA. I have always found people that have limited if any Oracle experience always introduce themselves as Oracle certified.
6) A lot of the companies that offer certification boot camps are generic training companies that do not have any Oracle expertise. I call these the 7-11 Oracle training companies. They will sell any type of training that makes money whether they are very knowledgeable in it or not.
7) A lot of the certified training instructors in the U.S. do not have any real world experience or very indepth experience. They use their certification as a measure of credibiilty not their knowledge or experience. Which makes it kind of interesting that they are traveling around the U.S. training individuals in Oracle.
8) There are a lot of companies making money on certification, so they are always going to promote it as positive thing that someone should do.
9) I have talked to a large number of very experienced DBAs around the U.S. and the consensus I always hear from them is they think Oracle certication is more of a joke and I always hear some comment about how they have encountered an Oracle certified person that had no real world experience.

So I wanted to throw it out to all of you and get your perspective as to whether you think Oracle certification is important, relevant or necessary.


At 7:44 PM, Anonymous John said...

I am currenty going through my Oracle10g certification. If nothing else is has made me study Oracle in more depth and has helped make sure I have a recognized level of knowledge.
I hope it has relevance because I hope it helps my marketability in the work place.
I plan on completing my certification. My company is also reimbursing me for getting my certification. This has helped motivate me to get my certification. I am not sure I would have started it without their willingness to reimburse me.

At 1:35 PM, Anonymous Brad said...

How Important is Oracle Certification? It depends.

I would say that certification is only a loose indicator of competance. I learned a fair amount outside of my normal realm of responsibilities while getting certified, but I agree with your laundry list of counterpoints. Often times weak candidates refer to certification, while I know numerous DBAs without certification that are very strong technically.

If one is deciding whether to go down the path towards certification, I'd say (1) do it for yourself first and (2) do it if your company is paying for it.

I personally have received very little value for the time spent.

At 4:25 PM, Anonymous Bonnie Bizzaro said...

I agree 100% with everything in the original post. Most experienced DBAs that I know only take the certification exams if they are pressured by management or are looking for another job. Sadly, many hiring managers don't understand that certification is no indicator of a person's ability to do a DBA job. All of the certification exams I have taken have been at my own expense and on my own time but not solely for the purpose of appearing knowledgeable in the eyes of hiring managers that don't know any better. I have found that studying for these exams helps me make time to learn new things. Even after 15+ years as a DBA there is still a lot that I don't know I don't know.

At 12:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too agree with all the comments and that just a oracle certification is not a ticket to success but for a person like that comes from a not very technical background does want pursue a careeer as a junior oracle dba and completes his OCA and now studying for OCP. I do get a lot of negative feedback as this certification will NOT get you a job. So what does a person like me do to gain experience as no one is willing to employ me with just a piece of paper. I am in a fix and unsure of my next step. Any adive would be appreciated.

At 5:53 AM, Blogger George Trujillo said...

Good comment. Changing careers to become an Oracle DBA is a definite challenge. If you are looking at becoming an Oracle DBA and you are new to technology then I do feel the certification will definitely help you. It will at least show a certain level of knowledge and a commitment to learning the Oracle technology.

Below I have a list of key areas I would look at if I was hiring a new Junior DBA. Just as important is being able to attract an employer. Companies are always looking to hire someone that has a strong work ethic, will contribute positively to a team and someone that has a great attitude and fits in with a team. The key part of getting your first opportunity as a Junior DBA is selling a potential employer on yourself. What do you see as your key assets? What can you do to present yourself well to a potential employer? Read up on how to succeed in an interview and interview tips and interview mistakes. Dress professionally for your interviews and be early for your interview. Read up on the company, see what interests you about working for that company and ask the interview questions about the company that show you are interested in joining a quality organization. To get an opportunity as a Junior DBA you need to show a potential employer that your personal assets and intangibles can make up for you lack of experience. I can tell you that I know a number of people that have changed careers to become an Oracle DBA and they sold the company on themselves to get their first job as an Oracle DBA. I assure you companies are looking for people that work hard, have great attitudes, are trust worthy and can contribute positively to a team. These type of people are hard to find, finding someone with just DBA skills is pretty easy for a company.

Along with that an Oracle DBA has to work in a technical environment. The more a potential employer can feel you can move into their environment and be successful, the more likely you are to get hired. Basic Unix and networking skills are also important to be an Oracle DBA. Understanding the fundamentals of Unix, shell programming and being able to install and manage Oracle in a Unix environment is also important. The good thing is that with VMWare in can be relatively inexpensive to install VMWare (around $80), then you can install a free version of Linux (i.e. Enterprise Linux) or Fedora or SuSE and you can then go through the installation steps to install Oracle on Unix/Linux. Skills you should work on:
1) Read OFA 5 times and conform to its guidelines.
2) Install Oracle according to OFA.
3) Make sure you completely understand the Oracle architecture (SGA, background processes, server processes, data files, system tablespaces, redo logs, archive logs, init.ora and spfile).
4) Be able to write a Unix script to perform a cold backup using a cron job.
5) Be able to perform full and incremental backups using RMAN. Practice different recover scenarios.
6) Get comfortable with the data dictionary main views (DBA_DATA_FILES, V$instance, etc.)
7) Search on the Internet for Oracle DBA best practices to see what other DBAs are doing.
8) Be able to set up archiving, perform backups and be able to clean up archived files that have been backed up.
9) Read some introductory chapters on performance tuning. For SQL tuning understand how to understand an Explain Plan and how to perform a SQL trace and run a TKProf report.
10) Read up on top 10, 20 things to tune for an Oracle DBA.

Your key DBA resources:
1) Oracle Concepts Manual - has entire chapters on different parts of the Oracle architecture.
2) Oracle Reference Manual - key chapters on data dictionary views and initialization parameters
3) Oracle SQL Reference Manual - get comfortable reading documentation to add a tablespace, modify a user, add a redo log group, etc.

At 5:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi informative article

At 3:31 PM, Blogger Jim said...

Hello, I need some advice and I'm glad I found this blog. I'm looking to make a career change as a recent test I took suggested that I would be a very strong fit for a job in technology. Would it be possible for someone with only an Oracle DBA Certification but no college or technical degree to get a job as an Oracle DBA? I'm looking into a 3-4 month certification program through a tech school here in bloomington, mn and was wondering if it's worth the money?? Thanks, Jim

I need to make a decision quick so anyone with info can email me at

At 12:13 AM, Anonymous Adult High School Diploma said...

you have my eternal gratitude. your graciousness is appreciated


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