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What is the real value of OCA certification (1z0-808)?

 
Forest White
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Good morning,

I have been combing this forum for the past two months as I prepare to take the 1z0-808 exam, which awards the OCA Java SE 8 certification. I have really enjoyed the advice and I am beginning to do well on practice exams I have not previously taken (I purposely saved a few for this purpose, as this forum advised).

There is one final question I have before I schedule my exam: what is the real value of this certification? For instance, if someone is applying for a Java developer position (perhaps entry or mid level), does this stand out at all? Likewise, has anyone seen an increase in visibility because of this cert?

Thank you in advance for any input.
 
Jeanne Boyarsky
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Forest,
Quite honestly, the biggest value is that it lets you take the OCP. (oh and that you learn stuff!) The OCP is far more impressive on a resume. As far as whether companies care, it varies.
 
Forest White
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Thank you,

I was aware that my knowledge expanded as a result of the highly detailed investigation of the language. But I definitely work on threads and transactions (OCP topics) in real development far more than parse poorly formatted switches and catch mismatched data types (OCA topics). Because I was so focused on the OCA task, I had not considered my progress towards the OCP. That is a good thing to look forward to.
 
Roel De Nijs
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Hi Forest White,

First of all, a warm welcome to CodeRanch!

Forest White wrote:There is one final question I have before I schedule my exam: what is the real value of this certification? For instance, if someone is applying for a Java developer position (perhaps entry or mid level), does this stand out at all? Likewise, has anyone seen an increase in visibility because of this cert?

The real value probably depends on your current Java knowledge and level. If you are a Java greenhorn, you'll definitely benefit from preparing for this certification. Your Java knowledge will definitely increase and you'll get a solid understanding of Java and OO basics. If you already have (some) Java experience, you might learn a few new things but the biggest value will be (as Jeanne already mentioned) taking the OCPJP certification exam and becoming Oracle Certified Professional, Java SE 8 Programmer. And this certification lets you take any other Java certification (from Oracle).
One of my former colleagues was an experienced developer (+15 years as a VB6 and .Net developer) but had very limited Java experience. So after she prepared and passed the OCAJP7 certification exam, her Java knowledge had drastically improved.

Regarding a possible job position: a certification could definitely be useful if you are looking for a Java developer position, but it's certainly not a guarantee. Even with an OCPJP8 certification under your belt, it's still 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. In this thread and this one you'll find some advice to increase your chances to get an entry-level job as a Java developer.

All my certifications are on my resume, but I rarely get questions about them. And not even a technical question to verify if I really passed that certification. That might be because there are a bunch on that list. Or maybe because the employer finds experience much more important. But the main reason why I take/took the certifications is to improve my Java knowledge and to keep up-to-date with the latest improvements of the Java language and syntax, not to have some eyecandy on my resume.

Hope it helps!
Kind regards,
Roel
 
Forest White
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Good morning, Roel. Thank you for the warm welcome.

It so happens I have a lot of Java 6/7 experience, but because my work experience is not as a software engineer, I am trying to showcase this knowledge. Whether this is the real value of the certification is the question, and you are the fourth person to insist that it is the process and knowledge that is more important than the label. That is something I definitely wanted to know.

As an aside, I am aware of the "no guarantees" clause to any sort of test or membership. When I was younger my Microsoft certifications sure seemed like a guaranteed job. But we do not live in the dot com boom anymore and there is much wider field of technologies now that have competitive merit. So in even a large niche like Java development, there are many specialties and abundant competition. I agree that knowing your technology is superior to having any one resume line item. However, as I am bulking up on resume line items, I sometimes wonder which are more highly regarded, and which demonstrate certain qualities in a candidate. This is the sort of analysis I perform in any endeavor, and I found myself returning to this community often in my studies of the new Java version (8 ... yes, I know there is another to follow). Here, I am seeing a fairly uniform answer, which is rare enough.

Thanks,
 
Roel De Nijs
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Forest White wrote:Whether this is the real value of the certification is the question, and you are the fourth person to insist that it is the process and knowledge that is more important than the label. That is something I definitely wanted to know.

It is definitely about the process and the knowledge! I often see people in this forum asking how they have to prepare for the OCAJP certification exam so they can pass the exam as soon as possible. And although I can understand the reasons behind this urge (employer requirement, need to stand out in a very competitive market,...), it is the wrong attitude in my humble opinion. Haste makes waste! Getting certified is much more than just that piece of paper. It's all about getting a very good understanding of the java language and becoming a better developer. These are in the long term more important than having "OCAJP (and/or OCPJP certified)" on your CV. You should simply take all the time you need to prepare yourself thoroughly.
From my own experience: while I was studying for the SCJP 1.4, I learnt tons of things I was totally not aware of! Although I had a Java course during my Applied Informatics education and having (at that time) 1.5 years experience as a Java developer. And then Java 5 was released with generics, enums, autoboxing,... and I took SCJP 5 too. And again I had a very solid understanding of all these new concepts thanks to my thorough preparation. During the SCJP 6 preparation I didn't have learned much, because Java 6 was very similar to Java 5 (certainly regarding exam objectives). If you are interested in the stories about my preparation for each certification, just click the corresponding link in my signature

Kind regards,
Roel
 
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