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Who Is The SCJA Intended For?

 
Michael Raymond Jr.
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It seems the SCJA is a much better certification for people who don't need to prove they have basic Java skills. For instance, basically all of the SCJP requirments are covered in CS100 and CS200 courses, so having taken those courses already seems to make the SCJP not very fruitful in terms of net gain (most cases, I think).

UML and OOP concepts are also normally covered in CS100/200 courses as well. But, what's not normally covered in those two courses, in my experience, is J2EE 'stuff'.

So, wouldn't it seem that the SCJA is best for anyone witha computer science/technology degree that didin't, for some reason, cover J2EE? And the SCJP is better for someone that doesn't have any way to prove they've had some training or acquired some knowledge on basic Java/programming concepts?

This is how I'm seeing it...really would like to hear what others think of the SCJA and its intended audience.

http://www.sun.com/training/catalog/courses/CX-310-019.xml


Mike
[ September 24, 2005: Message edited by: Michael Raymond Jr. ]
 
Andrew Monkhouse
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Hi Mike,

You might be interested in reading the JavaRanch SCJA FAQ entries regarding this (and I am aware that the FAQ needs to be updated since the certificate is no longer in beta - any volunteers?).

Particularly there are entries for:
  • Why was this exam created?
  • But doesn't SCJP / SCJD / SCEA ... cover this?
  • I am currently SCJP certified, should I go for SCJA as well?
  • All of which might go some way towards answering your question.

    Regards, Andrew
     
    Michael Raymond Jr.
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    Hey, thanks Andrew, that was a pretty good link.

    Quoted directly from Sun (the link I provided):
    "This worldwide credential validates basic knowledge of Object-Oriented Concepts, UML representation of OO concepts, the Java programming language, and general knowledge of Java Platforms and Technologies."

    In your opinion, do you think that when Sun says "the java programming language", this is = to SCJP skills, or more simpler? What I'm now asking is if the SCJA assumes SCJP status or knowledge.


    I think I like, no, wait, LOVE the SCJA and its purpose compared to the SCJP! But, I'm still trying to get a better feel for it. Nobody seems to frequent this column though, unfortunately. So I think I might have, even after reading the link you submitted, a myopic perspective of the New Cert.

    On a side note, I question whether the SCJA objectives should have been added to the SCJP, instead of creating a new cert, which would make the SCJP more robust. But, eh, that's American capitalism! ;-)
     
    Michael Raymond Jr.
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    Andrew, the link you provided suggests people preparing for the SCJA should utilize the 4 recommended readings (one short PDF file on UML, the J2EE tutorial, J2ME tutorial, and lastly a document that explains what J2EE is and its purpose).

    On the first of the J2EE links provided, the document says prereqs you will need to know are JDBC and Security. Is JDBC and Security also tested on the SCJA exam? How much of this J2EE document is needed for the exam? The content of the link seems to be really extensive, not basic like Sun suggests the SCJA coverege of J2EE is supposed to be.

    In contrast to the recommended readings on the link you provided me, Sun suggests 3 basic courses on the Java language, and one manager course on J2EE, which appears to be a very basic overview of what J2EE is supposed to do, but not how to do it. No mentioning of needing to know J2ME at all, or UML, in the Recommended Training section on Sun's site. However, such things are mentioned in the Exam objectives section.

    Has Sun prepared itself for customer consumption of its SCJA?? It does not appear so...
     
    Andrew Monkhouse
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    Hi Michael
    In your opinion, do you think that when Sun says "the java programming language", this is = to SCJP skills, or more simpler? What I'm now asking is if the SCJA assumes SCJP status or knowledge.
    Based on Bert's comments (remembering that he was one of the people involved in the creation of the exam) SCJA should be much simpler than SCJP.

    On a side note, I question whether the SCJA objectives should have been added to the SCJP, instead of creating a new cert, which would make the SCJP more robust. But, eh, that's American capitalism! ;-)
    Not really - again, read the FAQ as to why SCJA is different from SCJP / SCJD / ...

    You should try and remember that SCJA is not designed for those who have in-depth knowledge of the various technologies it covers. So reading the overview information can be good enough.

    Remember that the JavaRanch FAQ lists books that other candidates have found useful while trying to study for the exam. Since there are no books specific to the SCJA at this time, the books and tutorials listed may contain far more information than you really need to know.

    Regards, Andrew
     
    Michael Raymond Jr.
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    Andrew, I do realize that everyone on this board says the cert is for people that don't have "in-depth" knowledge of the technologies tested on the exam. However, Sun says that the SCJA is for people who want to become entry level programmers. As you strongly suggest, the cert is very basic, so how can someone be ready for entry level employment into a professional position if they have very basic knowledge of programming? I mean, the SCJP is pretty darn basic as is (though I know it's much tougher to master these basic-intermediate skills). So, why create a cert that's even more basic than the SCJP, when the SCJP already can't get someone a job by itself (without other credentials)? If you say otherwise, then I ask: Have you ever seen a job that asks for someone to only know how to write while loops, know bitwise operations, create functions/classes, etc etc(scjp objectives)??? I never have seen one posted on the Internet, if sucha job has every existed(in America). So as you've really stressed how generic the SCJA is, in contrast to what Sun is trying to promote, is discouraging, but forthcoming which I welcome.

    I guess I was naive and bought the promotional line from Sun on their latest financial endeavor...luckily I haven't invested much time into the cert.

    Thanks for your time...
     
    Nicholas Cheung
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    Have you ever seen a job that asks for someone to only know how to write while loops, know bitwise operations, create functions/classes, etc etc(scjp objectives)??? I never have seen one posted on the Internet, if sucha job has every existed(in America). So as you've really stressed how generic the SCJA is, in contrast to what Sun is trying to promote, is discouraging, but forthcoming which I welcome.

    If you are in this direction, I would then ask you another question.

    Have you ever seen a job that asks for someone to only being graduated from Primary School or Secondary school? There are, but rare or less professional. So, why people have to study them before qualified to study in the University? why people nowadays focus on the training from kindergarden and put lots of effort there? This is because learning is a step by step process.

    The same situation applied. People, like you, might find SCJP very easy, and thus, why we need to have SCJA which is more easier than SCJP. However, some people might find SCJP very difficult and even fail the exam. Thus, SUN tries to help those candidates by adding an entry exam that help them to build up the basic knowledge about the overview of Java.

    So, make the case simple. If you find SCJA is too easy, just skip it as it is NOT compulsory for people who acquire higher level of Java certs. If you find SCJA is challenging already, first study the basic knowledge and then go further. You can only blame SUN when SUN creates a compulsory exam that is very easy and waste of time to study. But so far, SUN did not do that.

    Nick
     
    Andrew Monkhouse
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    Hi Michael,

    My personal view is that when hiring an entry level programmer (and as an IT Manager, I have been in the position of hiring such people), I like to see candidates who have good all-round knowledge, as they are more likely to be able to fit into different projects as needed.

    When hiring candidates, I ask some simple questions in core Java, SQL, JDBC, EJBs, JSPs, and Servlets (leaving out whatever topics they didn't claim to know). I can then use their answers as the basis of further questions to find out what they really know, and how well they think. But look at the topics that I ask questions on - very similar to the SCJA .

    Don't get me wrong - having SCJP is a great thing, and all other things being equal (or close to it) a candidate with SCJP experience will be given a job over one who does not. But I personally consider the SCJP as a stepping stone to other certifications. If someone came to me with only the SCJP, I would ask why they have not passed further exams (and I'll acknowledge up-front that there are some very good reasons).

    Regards, Andrew
     
    Michael Raymond Jr.
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    Hi Nick...thx for the response.

    I don't find the SCJP exam easy, though I've never taken it. The concepts, whether I've mastered them or not, are basic-possibly intermediate programming skills.

    You're comparing apples and oranges...
    Nobody ever said a highschool diploma alone will get you a programing job, but Sun does explicitly state that their new cert can get you a programming job. These are not my words.

    My problem is that I thought the SCJA was what Sun says it is, which a cert to prove entry level programming skills that can make you ready for an entry level professional position. I don't even think the SCJP is such. However, that doesn't mean I don't think either has any value...I think the SCJP + an IT related degree will enhance your position. In fact, one of my college professors is a software architect for xyz company, and when I asked him if his company cares about Java certification, he responded with something like: we don't look for it, but if two candidates have similar skills, but only one has the cert, then they'll take the guy with the cert. Anyways, my point of starting this thread wasn't to bash Sun certs, but instead to find out more about the new Sun cert....i just didn't like what I found out! ;-) However, now that I've cooled off, I may still pursue it instead of the SCJP, though it's clearly not what I though it was.
     
    Michael Raymond Jr.
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    "When hiring candidates, I ask some simple questions in core Java, SQL, JDBC, EJBs, JSPs, and Servlets (leaving out whatever topics they didn't claim to know). I can then use their answers as the basis of further questions to find out what they really know, and how well they think. But look at the topics that I ask questions on - very similar to the SCJA ."

    I'm in no way trying to put words in your mouth, but kinda reoganizing what you said/implied.

    Ok, it seems to me that someone who can answer questions related to the SCJA will be of higher regard than someone that can only answer core Java skills, even if they mastered the core Java skills better than the SCJA??? You suggest you would dig further into their knowledge of the more advanced SCJA related skills. Obviously, someone with just (don't mean that in a bad way ppl) an SCJP would not even be able to answer the first round of questions related to J2EE material, and therefor, obviously, they would not be able to answer high level questions.

    So, for someone with a CS/IT related degree, would your prefer them having the SCJA cert, or the SCJP cert, assuming all things equal? Meaning the SCJP person knows nill about J2EE, databases, etc, but the SCJA might not know the core java in as much detail as the SCJP.

    thx!
    [ September 26, 2005: Message edited by: Michael Raymond Jr. ]
     
    Andrew Monkhouse
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    Hi Michael,

    This is a kind of awkward question, as it really comes down to the interview. In reality, I would probably interview both the person with SCJA and SCJP experience.

    But to try and make a hypothetical for you - lets say that have decided to interview a total of 5 people for a position. Having picked the first 4 interviewees, I have to choose whether the 5th interview position will go to the person with SCJP or SCJA experience. In this case, I would probably pick the person with SCJA.

    Regards, Andrew
     
    Michael Raymond Jr.
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    thx, Andrew! ;-) That's music to my ears...
     
    Luciana Silveira
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    Hi all!
    This is really an intersting thread!
    I would like to give my opinion as someone whose SCJA is his/her first certifcate.
    I was studying for SCJP when SCJA was created. I was very excited about the exam objectives which included UML, Object Oriented Concepts and Client/Server technologies. More than an exam for entry level programmers I think it is an exam for project managers, as SUN says, and systems analysts, which is my case.
    It is important for a systems analyst to know about the Java technologies (if his/her projects are developed in Java) even though he/she doesn't have to write a single line of code.
    Well, that is not my case. I don't know in other countries, but where I live is very popular to be systems analyst/developer, so we do the software documentation and sometimes the development as well. Therefore I think SCJA is perfect for me.
    I just hope this Java certification becomes so considered as the other ones.
    []'s
     
    Bert Bates
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    Hey Michael, and all,

    First off Michael, where did you read Sun saying this? Do you have a link?

    Nobody ever said a highschool diploma alone will get you a programing job, but Sun does explicitly state that their new cert can get you a programming job. These are not my words


    When we were creating the exam we meant for it to be a much more basic, entry level exam than the SCJP. It's true that it covers a wider range of topics than the SCJP, but all of the topics are covered at a much more basic level than the SCJP. We were trying to envision the SCJA as appropriate for interns, or maybe project managers, whereas we view the SCJP as the entry point for programmers and analysts.

    Another point to bring up is that in general these certifications aren't meant to convey "guru" status. I think sometimes at the ranch they get a little blown out of proportion :roll: Here's a quote from the Sun site:

    Achieving this certification provides clear evidence that a programmer understands the basic syntax and structure of the Java programming language and can create Java technology applications that run on server and desktop systems using J2SE 5.0.


    I believe these certifications have definite value, and I believe they're the toughest, most meaningful certifications out there, and at the same time having one doesn't mean that you should go applying for those CTO positions

    hth,

    Bert
     
    Michael Raymond Jr.
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    Hi Bert Bates (the real mccoy, eh?) and thank you for responding to me!

    If you go to java.sun.com >> Certifications >> top most SCJA link in middle of page >> it says:

    http://www.sun.com/training/catalog/courses/CX-310-019.xml

    "The Sun Certified Associate for the Java Platform, Standard Edition, Exam Version 1.0 certification exam provides an ideal entry into an application development or a software project management career using Java technologies. This worldwide credential validates basic knowledge of Object-Oriented Concepts, UML representation of OO concepts, the Java programming language, and general knowledge of Java Platforms and Technologies. Candidates for this exam include: entry level Java programmers, students studying to become Java programmers, project or program managers working with Java technology in the software development industry. ""


    I translated "entry level Java programmers" & "exam provides an ideal entry into an application development [career]" into "can get you an entry level Java job". Of course I don't mean that in the literal sense, and realize, or had hoped, that this meant "you're ready to start interviewing". I don't think I misconstrued the original meaning much, and if I did it was not intentional....possibly due to going back and forth on debating the subject.

    SCJP ="we view the SCJP as the entry point for programmers and analysts"

    SCJA = "We were trying to envision the SCJA as appropriate for interns, or maybe project managers"[by Bert Bates] != "entry level Java programmers" & "exam provides an ideal entry into an application development" [from Sun MS]


    I think there are some major differences in your wording and what Sun MS says, no?


    Please advise further...
     
    Michael Raymond Jr.
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    Luciana, if you don't mind me asking, did you already know J2EE, befor eyou took this exam? Or, did your company need you to learn J2EE, and this is why you studied for the cert? Basically, aside from adding another credential to your resume, I'd like to know why you studied the SCJA in the first place, if you don't mind telling.

    Also, Mr. Bates, what level/type of interns were you thinking of...CS majors in their freshman and sophmore years, or junior/senior? Was there a particular region or country in mind when you decided on your target market?
    [ September 27, 2005: Message edited by: Michael Raymond Jr. ]
     
    Luciana Silveira
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    Michael, I already knew J2EE before I took the exam. I've been working in a J2EE project since January, besides other previous experiences.

    As I said before, I was studying for SCJP when I heard about the SCJA exam and liked its objectives. So I was already studying the Java language and just had to read more about J2EE technologies.
    In fact I wanted to enter in the "Java certification world" and thought it was a great exam to start with.

    But I'll definitively take SCJP. Not only for its value, but because I plan to take SCWCD and SCEA.

    I hope to have answered your questions.
     
    Bert Bates
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    Well I guess I'm the real McCoy

    You know, the stuff on the Sun site is marketing stuff... you always have to take marketing stuff with a grain of salt

    A lot of the motivation for the SCJA came from Sun Japan, I'm not sure exactly how their school system works, but I'd say we were thinking in terms of a candidate in their 2nd or 3rd year of college, maybe doing a summer internship. The exam was made broad to help provide a broad perspective (kind of makes sense) because once you start going down the SCJP, SCWCD or shatever path you start to specialize.

    If I was still hiring programmers (which I used to do a lot), I'd view the SCJP and follow-on certs. as being really more towards an engineering sort of career track. I'd view an SCJA candidate as more entry level or intern level, with the possibility that this candidate might take either an engineering track or a track like tech writing or project management.

    hth,

    Bert
     
    Michael Raymond Jr.
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    Luciana, I'm kind of in a similar situation as you...I think I'm going to do as you did and get the SCJA first. This way I can have 'something' on my resume with the intent that might be enough for an entry level job (in conjunction iwth a degree yada yada), then the SCJP and go on if further certs are still needed.

    Thanks for the response, Bert. BTW, you and Kathy ROCK at writing!!! ;-) You two are the only authors that can put on your resume that you wrote comic books and technical books, both of which share the same ISBN!
     
    Bert Bates
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    Thanks Michael,

    You made Kathy laugh with that one
     
    Luciana Silveira
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    Michael,
    I think I forgot to tell that I took the SCJA beta exam. I'm very happy with my certification but my situation was a little different because I didn't have to choose between SCJA and SCJP.

    You should think carefully about what you've been told, what Bert Bates said about the exam and what your expectations are. Success on your career!!
     
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