Well, in case it's not already too late, here's my take on Sun's Java Certification, the programmer certification, specifically.
I became SCJP
certfied in early 2002, in Java 1.2 - the 1.4 exam had not yet been released at that point. At that time, I was already programming in Java professionally and had been for some time.
What has the certification done for me professionally? Well, that depends. If you're referring to the little piece of paper that says I'm certified, it has done little to nothing for me. I've got it on my resume and most employers just don't care that it's there. In my opinion, I agree with the employers - being SCJP certified, in my mind, does not make you a valuable asset.
I've been moderating this forum for a couple years now and I can tell you what I've seen over that timeframe. I see a lot of people that expect to become SCJP certified and suddenly find that they're excellent programmers and highly sought after in the job market. My experience shows that this just isn't the case. Take this example:
Just because you can understand that line of code, you're not necessarily a good programmer. In fact, I'll bet a "good" programmer would never write such a horrible line of code.
The SCJP exam tests your knowledge of the intricacies of the Java programming language and it does so by throwing a lot of convoluted and contrived questions at you. These questions are worked out to test specific knowledge points and, when it comes to that, they do an excellent job. However, more often than not, I would say that the questions you see on an SCJP exam display what not to do
when programming, rather than what to do
In my opinion, anyone can become SCJP certified - they don't even necessarily need to be a programmer. The entire SCJP exam can be passed by simply memorizing answers. Granted, it's a lot of memorization, but it's still memorization. There is no point at which you need to apply knowledge to solve some new problem. It's in that field (applying your knowledge) that I think you really define yourself as a Java developer, not by passing the SCJP exam.
You may be asking why I'm bashing the SCJP exam so badly - keep in mind that I am also SCJP certified. In short, I'm not. I think the SCJP exam is an excellent thing and I'm glad I became certified. I was already a competent Java programmer when I began my certification study and the deeper study only helped enhance my skills as a programmer. What I am getting at is the misconception that I see every day that becoming SCJP certified will make you a great asset to any company or make you a great programmer. It just won't.
If that's what you're after - to be more "marketable" in the job market, I think you need to look beyond the SCJP certification. I think you need to see the SCJP exam as the beginning, not the end - as a launching pad, if you will.
If I were to look at someone's resume and saw that the person was SCJP certified, I might note it, but not give it much thought. I'd be much more interested in the person's previous development experience - without that, the SCJP is worthless. However, if that person were to have gone forward and completed the Developer's Certification (SCJD
), I would definitely find that person to be more marketable.
In my opinion, the SCJD certification shows your ability to apply your knowledge to solve some problem. It's not just memorization - it's actual application of knowledge. Certainly, it's still done in a controlled environment and is no replacement for real-world experience, but it shows an understanding of a broader range of knowledge and the ability to apply that knowledge to a real problem.
I'm sure I'm being much more long-winded that you need and perhaps I'm just venting a little from what I've seen on these forums over the last couple years, but I hope you can follow my opinions. I think the SCJP is a great thing, but I think it's poorly conceived by many folks out there. Of course, the problem is that, if you're not a programmer, you see the SCJP as your ticket to becoming one. If you're already a developer, you realize that this is simply not the case.
Maybe that helps your article, maybe it doesn't. Either way, I feel a little better.