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Taking The Certification Path

Taking The Certification Path

October 16, 2007

If you’re considering a tech specialty that requires certification in skill sets, you need to know it requires an ongoing commitment in terms of job education. While the career path isn’t quick and easy, the payoffs in a role requiring certification are plentiful.

But before you jump into any program you need to consider your options and your expectations. Are you looking to enter the field as a service technician, and then move up? Or do you want to jump-start your career at a more advanced level, or in another area of IT, possibly by learning Java, networking or some other arena? Once you have the answers than you can begin researching and considering various certification programs.

The first step is getting a look at the many certification programs in play. Here is a quick look at some of the more well known:

Oracle Certifications

Oracle’s certification program might entertain a new motto: "Not just for database pros anymore. The company offers certifications for a variety of job roles, matching the wide-ranging offerings of the company itself, from application software to development tools.

For IT professionals working with Oracle products, the company’s multifaceted technology translates into a broad spectrum of certifications for database administrators, software developers, analysts, Web administrators and others.

Primary Oracle Certifications

Oracle Certified Associate (OCA): The associate credential is designed for IT professionals beginning to work with Oracle. Typically, OCAs will already have acquired the foundation of knowledge for their work as Web administrators, database administrators and developers. Oracle views the OCA credential as an appropriate starting point for techies early in their careers.

Oracle Certified Professional (OCP): OCPs generally have achieved a degree of experience and success in their careers. For example, developers may have demonstrated their expertise by managing a large-scale Oracle database or developing applications used throughout a company. This credential is seen as a way to move on to senior-level positions.

Oracle Certified Master (OCM): The OCM credential can be summed up in a single word: Guru. OCMs, whether database pros or developers, are crucial members of IT departments who handle mission-critical projects and tasks. The OCM credential significantly raises the bar for certification with its hands-on testing, according to an article in Oracle Magazine, a company publication. The OCM is Oracle University’s response to the industry’s need to effectively test candidates on their ability to perform in a real-world, live application environment and is a test of both knowledge and experience, the article notes.

Oracle’s certifications are typically tied to specific products and releases. Deciding which certification path to choose depends largely upon what Oracle technology you will be working with, whether Oracle Database 10g, Oracle9i Forms Developer, Oracle Application Server 10g, Oracle9i Database, Oracle Forms 6i Developer or Oracle9i Application Server. An Oracle-produced guide offers advice on the steps to becoming certified by Oracle.

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A+ Certification

Among the certifications available for computer professionals, A+ is probably the one cited most often as a starting point for careers in information technology (IT). More than 260,000 people have received A+ certification, viewing it as a way to find jobs as computer service technicians or to gain enough skills to move on to further training.

Sponsored by CompTIA, an industry organization, A+ certifies skills in entry-level PC technology. It is a vendor-neutral certification, with an emphasis on the expertise needed to work as a computer service technician, troubleshooting and repairing PCs.

But the question is whether A+ certification is an appropriate starting point for all IT careers. The answer is it’s not.

The IT world is vast, with an astounding variety of jobs available, from tech support personnel to programmers. These jobs require different skills, training and experience. Will A+ help you find a job in tech support or servicing computers? It will. Will it help you find a job as a Java programmer? That’s unlikely. Before you sign up for an A+ certification course, be sure it’s an appropriate credential for your career goals.

A+ certification programs typically focus on the skills required for entry-level PC technicians. Students learn about installing, configuring, upgrading and repairing PCs. At New Horizons, the IT training company, a five-day or 10-day course includes instruction in computer architecture, memory, modems, printers, hard disk setup and operating system optimization.

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