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Certifications - May I See The Menu?

08.12.2008
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At JavaRanch and JavaBlackBelt, we frequently see questions from developers trying to get their first job or advance to a higher level job.  They wonder if getting certified will help them advance.


Customer: Good morning, I'd like a certification please, it's for a gift.

Sales: Good morning Sir. Which brand please ?

Customer: I don't really know. May I see the menu ?

Sales: Certainly, Sir, here is it. We've a promotion today: for 2 WebLogic certifications, you've one Oracle for free.

Customer: Hum... I think I'll go for IBM today. How fresh are their certifications ?

Sales: The Rational ones are recent Sir. But I would not recommend the others. Are you sure it's for a gift ?

Customer: Hum, in fact no, it's for me. How did you guess ?

Sales: By experience, Sir. You are young and seems to have no years of experience to put on your resume.



Shortly after Java was released in 1995, Java developers had not much choice to get certified. You got the SCJP (Sun Certified Java Programmer) and you were “Java certified”.
Fast forwarding to the present, we frequently see questions at JavaRanch and JavaBlackBelt from developers trying to get their first job or advance to a higher level job.  They wonder whether getting certified will help.  And if so, where to start.

They wonder: what does it mean to be a “Java developer”, nowadays? There are so many technologies around Java that developers usually have to specialize, as front end web developers (Html, CSS, Ajax, JavaScript, Struts/Servlet/JSP,…), integration developers (XML, JMS, ESB,…), or persistence developers (JPA, Spring transactions, SQL, RDB,…). Each specialization includes many technologies.  And of course many different exams.  The range of certifications expanded as well. There are so many on the market; which ones should a Java developer choose?

We started thinking about we would tell such a confused developer.  We start this series of articles around the certifications in the Java world to help clear things up. In this first article we list and compare the existing certifications. The next article will cover the SCJP. The third one will open a more philosophical debate about certifications and how they fit the industry needs.



Common Ground

Most of the certifications listed here are composed of 50 to 90 multiple choice questions. They are taken in a closed book situation: you cannot read your notes or any book, and you have no access to the internet. You go to a local Prometric or Pearson Vue center, take the exam there and get the result immediately after the exam. You usually know your score for each part of the exam, in order to identify the part to improve if you failed.

A few of the certifications below include an assignment to be done home within a few weeks, and an in-person exam in a testing center.



Sun Microsystems

The most common approach we hear questions about is getting Sun certified.  Most developers start with the SCJP exam.  There is also the SCJA - Sun Certified Java Associate - exam for entry level programmers (or project managers).  However, we see many entry level developers go straight for the SCJP which is more recognized by industry.


Exam

Full Name

Summary

Price

Pre Reqs

SCJA

Sun Certified Java Associate

Entry-level Java

$100

N/A

SCJP

Sun Certified Java Programmer

Thorough Java language

$200

N/A

SCJD

Sun Certified Java Developer

Avanced Java

$450

SCJP

SCWCD

Sun Certified Web Component Developer

Servlets & JSPS

$200

SCJP

SCBCD

Sun Certified Business Component Developer

EJB

$200 

SCJP

SCDJWS

Sun Certified Developer for Java Web Services

Web Services dev pack

$200

SCJP

SCMAD

Sun Certified Mobile Application Developer

Java Micro Edition

$200

SCJP

SCEA

Sun Certified Enterprise Architect

Enterprise Architecture

$650

N/A


Exam

# Multiple Choice and Drag/Drop

Hands on

Latest Version of Technology

SCJA

51

None

Any

SCJP

72

None

Java 6

SCJD

no

Assignment and Essay

Any?

SCWCD

69

None

JEE 5

SCBCD

61

None

JEE 5

SCDJWS

69

None

JEE 1.4

SCMAD

68

None

Any?

SCEA

64

Assignment and Essay

JEE 5



The scope of Sun in the certifications is around knowledge of the Java specifications they maintain.

Note that the heart of the Java language is covered by these certifications. There are many areas of Java, developed by Sun, that are not covered by any of these certifications. Additionally, other companies have developed additional products in the Java world, some of them with the corresponding certifications. 


IBM 

IBM is a long time player in the Java industry. It proposes many multiple-choice questions based certifications related to the Rational and WebSphere products along with job roles.  IBM also offers some technology neutral ones including exams on requirements, analysis and XML.  A number of them are listed here:

Exam

Full Name

Summary

Price

Pre Reqs

255

IBM Certified Associate Developer

Entry level RAD 6 exam

$150

none

150

J2EE 1.4 Web Developer

Part 1 of IBM Certified Solution Developer - RAD 6 exam

$150

none

256

Application Development with RAD 6

Part 2 of IBM Certified Solution Developer - RAD 6 exam

$150

none

257

IBM Certified Advanced Developer

J2EE 1.4 RAD 6 exam

$150

none

649

IBM Certified Solution Designer

RSA/modeling exam, expected to know tools well

$200

Computer Based courses?

833

OOAD - Analysis

Part 1 of IBM Certified Solution Designer - OO Analysis & Design

$200

none

834

OOAD -Design

Part 2 of IBM Certified Solution Designer - OO Analysis & Design

$200

none

142

XML

XML & Related Technologies

$150

none


Exam

# Multiple Choice

Hands on

Latest Version of Technology

255

55

None

J2EE 1.4/RAD 6

150

54

None

J2EE 1.4/RAD 6

256

51

None

J2EE 1.4/RAD 6

257

49

None

J2EE 1.4/RAD 6

649

50

None

J2EE 1.4/RSA6

833

50

None

UML 2

834

60

None

UML 2

142

49

None

XML 1.1

Published at DZone with permission of its author, John Rizzo.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)

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Comments

Bastian Klaus replied on Wed, 2008/08/13 - 9:51am

All these certifications are not worth the paper they are printed on!

Lund Wolfe replied on Sun, 2008/08/17 - 11:35pm

how come voting doesn't work in any browser - some sort of security javascript error ?

Petr Charvat replied on Mon, 2008/08/18 - 4:54am

Good atricle. I did not know about javablackbelt. I'll check it.

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