Most of my work experience in the last years is with Visual Basic 6, Delphi / Free Pascal, C# and T-SQL. I've written a medium sized Java web app with Wicket a few years ago, so I'm not a total newbie, but now I feel like training & certifying in Java in hopes of a job change. This includes properly learning Java SE and EE, and the Java "ecosystem", loosely defined as tools, IDEs, frameworks and libraries, from Ant to Spring, from Netbeans to Jenkins, etc.
After reviewing online training options, I've come to the conclusion that I have to divide this all into Java certification, and everything else.
For the certs, I guess nothing can beat the training offered by ORACLE University, specially on the higher levels (EE), plus a couple of books like OCA 8 by Boyarsky & Selikoff and OCA/OCP 7 by Sierra & Bates for the basic levels. OU seems a bit expensive (relative to average south american salaries), but they cover all the way up (JPA, JSP, etc) and, well, they ARE Java...
Regarding the "everything else" part, I've taken a look at Udemy and read a handful of comparisons between Udemy, Lynda, Treehouse, Codeschool and many others. Treehouse and Pluralsight offer learning tracks and have good reviews but a fixed rate would only be worth if I could be sure I can dedicate some serious time every month to it. Having older parents and small children to care, this is not the case, so I would prefer a per course pricing. Udemy and others have a handful of free courses but quality varies, so it would probably be wise to use a mix of two or more of all these sites.
Having said all this, is there anything else I need to take into account ? Is there any site comparable to Treehouse or Pluralsight but priced by actual usage ?
Alessandro Toffetti wrote:I've written a medium sized Java web app with Wicket a few years ago, so I'm not a total newbie, but now I feel like training & certifying in Java in hopes of a job change.
A certification could definitely be useful if you are considering a job change, but it's certainly not a guarantee. But it might make the difference between some equivalent candidates. It shows different positive aspects for a programmer: eager to learn, want to study and improve your knowledge (in your own time), you are up for a challenge, you have an eye for details,... But you probably not get a job just because you are certified. So a certification is never a guarantee for a job, but it may help turn the scale in your favor. Here and here you'll find some advice to switch domain.
Alessandro Toffetti wrote:For the certs, I guess nothing can beat the training offered by ORACLE University, specially on the higher levels (EE), plus a couple of books like OCA 8 by Boyarsky & Selikoff and OCA/OCP 7 by Sierra & Bates for the basic levels. OU seems a bit expensive (relative to average south american salaries), but they cover all the way up (JPA, JSP, etc) and, well, they ARE Java...
Very few people (even without any Java experience) follow an Oracle training during their journey to become OCA (OCP) certified. Mainly for the reason you have mentioned as well: it's (very) expensive. Almost everybody prepares for the certification exam using one (or more) dedicated study guides (e.g. K&B7, OCA8 by Boyarsky & Selikoff, OCA7 by Gupta,...) and purchase mock exam software (e.g. Enthuware). If you are a Java greenhorn (or want to learn the language first), you might benefit from reading a book on Java first (rather than a certification study guide). Many alternatives are available: Head First Java, Thinking in Java, Core Java, Deitel & Deitel, and so on. Or you could combine the Java text book together with an OCA certification study guide. And you also can have a look at the (free) Oracle Java tutorials.
If I was in your shoes, I would learn Java and prepare/study for the OCA certification. Once you have passed the exam, you'll have another benefit while looking for a new position because (like I said before) it shows different positive aspects for a developer. In the mean time you can look for a junior/medior Java developer position as well. If you are lucky and find such a position, you'll get invaluable Java practice on a daily basis. And if you have a good employer, he knows investing in his employees is important and is willing to pay for some (Oracle) courses to improve your knowledge. When I was looking for a Java position 10 years ago, I just graduated from school and didn't have any work experience. I was lucky to find an entry-level position as a Java developer and after 1.5 years I prepared for my first certification (SCJP 1.4), completely on my own. My second certification (SCJP 5.0) was paid by my employer and included an Oracle course to learn all new Java 1.5 features.