Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Is it 'Good Enough' to earn the Oracle PL/SQL Developer Certified Associate credential?

I was browsing the Oracle Certification group on LinkedIn this evening, and a post caught my eye.  The (slightly paraphrased) question was:

"Is it enough to earn the Associate-level PL/SQL certification or should you go on to earn the Professional-level certification. I have heard that the OCP credential is recommended for Database Administrators but that it is much less important for PL/SQL Developers."

After reading the question, I had a mental image of a manager trying to choose between three candidates for a PL/SQL development position. The first candidate holds no certification; the second holds the  Oracle PL/SQL Developer Certified Associate credential; and the third holds the Oracle Advanced PL/SQL Developer Certified Professional credential. The manager quickly decides that candidate two is the person to hire because the OCA is 'good enough'.

The above example is ridiculous on several levels. First of all, the situation is extremely contrived. However, more importantly, very few (I hope) hiring decisions are made in such a clueless fashion. There are many factors involved in the hiring decision that have nothing to do with certifications. For one thing, if the first candidate had prior job experience developing PL/SQL and the other two did not, he would likely be hired despite holding no certification. If the three candidates had equivalent experience and all other factors were effectively tied, then the position would probably go to the candidate with the OCP. Why would the manager not hire someone who had a more prestigious credential when all other factors were equal?

It is impossible to be certain what the poster means by 'enough'. However, it comes across as an attempt to determine the minimum level of effort they must invest in order to be hired. It is hard for me to imagine even my hypothetical hiring manager wanting a candidate with this mindset.

If you are starting out in an IT career, you had better plan to learn fast, and then learn some more.  Once you are done with that, you will need to do some more learning. It never ends. Technology changes. New coding challenges come up constantly. The 1Z0-144 exam covers the absolute basics of PL/SQL development. If you pass that exam and then decide you know enough, then your development career will be a very brief one.

Now... I should clarify one point. I am not arguing that everyone who earns the PL/SQL OCA should go on to earn the PL/SQL OCP. I am a huge proponent of certifications, but less because of the credentials themselves than because they are an excellent way to learn new skills. Essentially I am a huge proponent of learning as a way to advance your career. My problem with the question as posed is that it seems to imply that once someone has passed the 1Z0-144 exam, they can stop learning. That is most definitely not the case.