Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Value (or Lack Thereof) of Oracle Certifications

I received a comment earlier today on my earlier article Should I Get Certified as an Oracle 11G DBA or as a 12c DBA?. The subject is one that I felt rated a separate post in order to provide a sufficiently detailed response.

Matt-
I dislike certifications intensely, even though I hold several, and hope that someday they will lose their popularity. I got my certifications by studying and reading, but don't necessarily have experience in all of the areas in which I hold certs. However if I put all my certs on my resume, I get invitations to interview for senior positions based on these certifications! 

Such stupidity is sickening. It's definately unfair to the qualified people who don't hold the certification. Now I just list the certifications in which I have the most job knowledge. 

Certifications have little to no value in my view, and do NOT equate to job knowledge. Only relevant work experience can provide that. I always point this out when I speak to anyone who hires. 

-Susan Hanover

I find it difficult to understand why anyone would consider it stupid to be offered an interview because their resume contains certifications relevant to the position. I agree that it would be extremely unwise if the employer did not perform due diligence during the interview to ensure the candidate is qualified for the position. However, resumes and LinkedIn profiles are simply a way for employers to attempt to locate a pool of individuals that might fit their needs. Certifications are just one of many ways to locate potential candidates.

Likewise, I do not see how employers using certifications as part of their interview filter is unfair to individuals without certifications. By that logic, an employer who requires candidates to have a four-year degree is being unfair to any individuals that could do the job but never completed college. Nothing prevents experienced (but uncertified) Oracle professionals from pursuing certifications. If they choose not to, that is their decision. However they cannot decide not to certify and simultaneously complain that they are missing out on opportunities afforded to certified professionals.

I will agree that being able to pass a certification exam does not guarantee that an individual will be able to perform the job properly. I do not agree with the statement "Certifications ... do NOT equate to job knowledge". The following topics are a handful from those in the 11g Admin II exam (1Z0-053):


  • Configure multiple archive log file destinations to increase availability
  • Create and configure a recovery catalog 
  • Using RMAN to Create Backups
  • Recover from a lost redo log group  
  • Implement Automatic Memory Management


Each of these topics is very important for DBAs to know. It is knowledge that is required in order to be able to do the job of a DBA properly. The vast majority of topics on the 1Z0-053 exam are likewise either useful or critical for administrators to know. Studying for Oracle certifications does provide knowledge useful for the job. It is more correct to say that for someone brand new to the Oracle database, learning all of the topics in the OCP exams is not sufficient to become the sole DBA maintaining a mission-critical database. Job experience beats certification knowledge alone. However, job experience plus knowledge gained studying for certifications beats job experience alone.

I hold many Oracle certifications, including several of the Oracle Expert series. I would never point to any of them and claim that I am an expert because of the certification. I am, however, expert at several areas of Oracle. Studying for certification exams helps me to increase my expertise further because I make sure that I learn as much as possible from every one. The knowledge in my skull is why I am able to earn an enviable salary. The way in which I prepare for certifications increases what I know about Oracle and so they provide value to me. If having a certification on my resume also gets me an interview that wouldn't have happened otherwise or allows me to negotiate a higher salary -- that is simply a bonus.