aspose file tools*
The moose likes Jobs Discussion and the fly likes Please convince me about Certification Big Moose Saloon
  Search | Java FAQ | Recent Topics | Flagged Topics | Hot Topics | Zero Replies
Register / Login


Win a copy of Spring in Action this week in the Spring forum!
JavaRanch » Java Forums » Careers » Jobs Discussion
Bookmark "Please convince me about Certification" Watch "Please convince me about Certification" New topic
Author

Please convince me about Certification

Marcus Green
arch rival
Rancher

Joined: Sep 14, 1999
Posts: 2813
Pete's original posting appears to be a set of assertions which he uses to reach an unconnected conclusions. My summary of the main premise is that
Certifications are bad because they are taken by people who are compensating for lack of experience, and as experience is better than certification thus certification is bad (or BAD he expresses it). He also makes an additional assertion that anyone with good experience should have no trouble passing the certification exam, this is certainly not true.
I have been in the position of recruiting many Java programmers. I would much rather recruit people with solid real world Java programming experience. If I am presented with two approximatly equal candidates, and one has certification they the certified candidatae will have the edge. In addition to my expertise in interviewing and judging another human being I have the additional comfort of test provided,validated and managed by a multi billion dollar corporation.
If I cannot find people with real world experience (or the budget is too low to attract them), one way to judge a persons determination and interest is if they have certification. Of course they are compensating for lack of experience. They are compensating in a way that shows determination, application and is validated by publicly available set criteria, I know what I am buying.
That is my view from the trenches of actually employing people, Certification is a useful additional tool. Petes logic and assertions are very flawed.
Marcus

SCWCD: Online Course, 50,000+ words and 200+ questions
http://www.examulator.com/moodle/course/view.php?id=5&topic=all
Pete Pan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 14, 2001
Posts: 44
Would hire a chef for a "real" restaurant if he had on his resume that he was certified by BK University (There really is a Burger King University)?
Originally posted by raimondas zemaitis:

There was a good example: a good chef knows how to cook
food, he does not simply memorizes recipes (this isn't exact
quote). That's right. And that is what makes a good chef.
But how he would be able to do this not knowing the fundamentals
of food cooking ? Of course there might be talants but they are
rare and rather exotic.

Pete Pan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 14, 2001
Posts: 44
But if you saw that the person had 5 years experience in java and then felt like he had to go out and get certified, then wouldn't that look bad? To me it does. I would much rather see that he spent his time doing an indepth RMI course then study things that he should have already known. It just makes me wonder if they really have the experince that they say they do.
As for people with no experience, I would rate a certification high, but no where near a college degree. 4 years of tests vs. a couple of hours.
Originally posted by Marcus Green:

I have been in the position of recruiting many Java programmers. I would much rather recruit people with solid real world Java programming experience. If I am presented with two approximatly equal candidates, and one has certification they the certified candidatae will have the edge. In addition to my expertise in interviewing and judging another human being I have the additional comfort of test provided,validated and managed by a multi billion dollar corporation.

raimondas zemaitis
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 23, 2001
Posts: 104
Honestly speaking, Pete, I do not feel you are kind of person to discuss with. You do not answer or discuss but bite.
Originally posted by Pete Pan:
Would hire a chef for a "real" restaurant if he had on his resume that he was certified by BK University (There really is a Burger King University)?

We talk about different things and unfortunately you do not see what is meant by fundamentals here. What I like about SCJP is that you have to go through bunch of situations (questions) that actually are hardly met in a real world. For example

<pre>
class Base {
static String string = "A string of Base";

public static Base getBase() {
Base b = null;
return b;
}
public static void main(String[] args) {
System.out.println(getBase().string);
}
}
</pre>
Or similar, there are a lot of them, I've just picked closest to me one. You can let it go through compiler and know the answer. Or you can get down to nuts and bolts to see why the answer is exactly that (if you like, of course). The point in all those 'shifted' or 'stupid' guestions is that they help you to realize mechanizm and inner workings of the language which sometimes takes time and isn't easy. That's what I call fundamentals. Even when I come from some programming experience I do not feel I could jump to RMI or EJB etc. without this. There are cases (I know myself) when someone with rather solid (couple of years) experience have no idea about basic things that are natural to me (now). They just happened to get into industry, kept coding in a stereotypical way since there was no time to dig into 'why' and 'how' due to time constraints, know bunch of algorithms and standard approaches to solving problems and in fact are not bad developers.
It happend to me to get into company as a sales person (roughly speaking) and it turned out then for me to develop full blown contract tracking system for our department (10 workstations) with VBA although I saw VB for the first time in my life. After I got it work fine I wouldn't say I felt like VB developer with 'real world experience and a project behind'. I just saw how much I would need to learn (and basically fundamentals of the language) to really become one (at least how I understand beeing a good developer).
So I would turn it that way: experience + fundamentals. How one gets the latter one is irrelevant, i.e. is it by the means of SCJP or whatever. SCJP helps you to get that latter one and therefore I do think it is undeservedly ignored quite often.

Pete Pan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 14, 2001
Posts: 44
You do not feel that I am the kind of person to discuss things with, but here you are doing just that. If you really feel that way, take your comments else where.
As for me "biting", I only do it to idiots like you. If you do not want to be part of this discussion, then don't.
I do not need to run your example through the compiler to know the answer. I am NOT accusing you of this, but it is just a case of poor programming practices that come about from poor programmers without the proper experience. You should only access static methods/variables throught the class name to make people reading your code understand that they are statics. Of course it works, and if I didn't know it, it would take me 10 minutes to figure it out. But since there are thousands of cases like this, and the odds of me running into them in the real world are slim, I think it is better to actually spend my time are projects to learn "real world things" and to learn the "non real world cases" as I need them instead of memorizing them all at the beginning. But someone coming for solid progamming experience (and I am NOT talking about hacking for 2 years), then learning new things is easy. You spend your whole career learning new things, and if you were trained correctly in the first place (where you are trained how to learn languages, and not just to use the "current" language) then learning RMI and EJB are no different than Corba a few years ago, and STL before that and C++ before that, and C before that and ...
Originally posted by raimondas zemaitis:
Honestly speaking, Pete, I do not feel you are kind of person to discuss with. You do not answer or discuss but bite.

Pete Pan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 14, 2001
Posts: 44
And another thing, I think the BK University is a great example.
Would it hurt a chef with it on his resume? You bet, and they teach you the "fundimentals" there.
Originally posted by raimondas zemaitis:
Honestly speaking, Pete, I do not feel you are kind of person to discuss with. You do not answer or discuss but bite.

John Coxey
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 24, 2000
Posts: 503
Pete Pan:
If I was a campus recruiter - I would love it if I saw a recent graduate with the SJCP under his/her belt.
I think the SJCP is a great tool for junior to entry level people with CS degrees to get into the Java game. Both from a learning the language perspective and for "proving" something to a potential employer.
I think the SJCP may have been oversold as an "easy" way to get into the computer field. Given the relatively big $$ being paid, I can see why so many have taken the plunge.
But reality is that this is one hell of a demanding field. Most of the work seems to be debugging/enhancing existing code - so you gotta know how stuff works. As opposed to writing / playing / testing as you write new code.
As far as the big salaries go. I think I should be paid a relatively higher wage than an Accountant, Human Resources. First, the degree(s) are a heck of alot harder to obtain. Secondly, the job in infinitely more demanding - especially at the more mid to senior levels.
I, myself, have dedicated 8 years of my life (lost wages, etc.) to getting a college education. It irks me to see someone think they can study for SJCP for 4 months with no degree of any kind, or go to these 18 month ripoff academies and think they should get what I make.
Granted, I make decent/great money. But there was a heck of a price to pay. And justifiably, I should be compensated accordingly.
--------
It's so commonplace now at interviews - that the first thing they ask (after discussing the weather) - is your college degrees.
Yes, some can make the transition, quite successfully, from another major into this industry. But they too have paid their dues. And the SJCP is just one "due" out of many they have paid.
-----------
Just my two cents.
John Coxey
(jpcoxey@aol.com)

John Coxey
Evansville, Indiana, USA
raimondas zemaitis
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 23, 2001
Posts: 104
Originally posted by Pete Pan:

As for me "biting", I only do it to idiots like you.

Amazing. I am amazed with your respect to other people and their thinking. Nice spirit here, at JavaRanch. No more comments.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by raimondas zemaitis:
What I like about SCJP is that you have to go through bunch of situations (questions) that actually are hardly met in a real world. . . The point in all those 'shifted' or 'stupid' guestions is that they help you to realize mechanizm and inner workings of the language which sometimes takes time and isn't easy.

We're talking about the same thing, we're just interpreting it differently. As you point out, you need to study for all sorts of questions you hardly encounter in the real world. I think you also recognize that in the real world, someone with knowledge of the fundamentals should be able, with a moderate amount of research (on the order of minutes), to figure out how to solve these problems, and why the solution works.
You say you got your SCJP by learning the fundamentals. Good for you. My point is that there are many SCJPs who, with all the books and training courses, learn to regurgitate, and never got the fundamentals.
My dislike of the SCJP is because people can "cheat" and not learn the fundamentals. In my experience, so many SCJPs I've interviewed fall into this case, that I feel the test is no longer a garantee of the knowledge of the fundamentals. (That's not to say that no SCJP knows the fundamentals, just that there seem to be many more who don't.)

--Mark
hershey@vaultus.com
raimondas zemaitis
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 23, 2001
Posts: 104
Hi Mark,
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:
My point is that there are many SCJPs who, with all the books and training courses, learn to regurgitate, and never got the fundamentals.
My dislike of the SCJP is because people can "cheat" and not learn the fundamentals. In my experience, so many SCJPs I've interviewed fall into this case, that I feel the test is no longer a garantee of the knowledge of the fundamentals. (That's not to say that no SCJP knows the fundamentals, just that there seem to be many more who don't.)

But that's the problem with SCJP's not SCJP as a test itself. I perfectly recall from my university studies there are always some guys who just regurgitate and not learn, they do not learn HOW to learn, they can't scratch their brain to try to find a solution for a non standard problem in a different way. But, again that's problem with those guys, not the subject. I hate mechanical memorizing, it doesn't work for me, there must be some logical or analythical way to tie things or figure out something and tests based on this memorizing concept usually kill me. SCJP has about 70% of questions as a code snippets. If you know fundamentals and know HOW TO APPLY / manipulate them you are OK. That's what this test tries to squeeze out of you. If one takes wrong approach (to memorize bunch of things just to pass, not in fact learn what's under Java's hood) that is his problem, but do not blame the test itself. There hardly ever be a test able to figure out real capabilities of a person being tested and the way he uses/applies his knowledge.
SCJP at least gives you good kick to seriously approach Java. What it doesn't do it doesn't show the learning potential and overall ability to do so of someone being tested. When you are a starter with the language and industry the hardest part, I think, is exactly this - convince about your dedication and ability to learn and grow, what IMHO is even better measure than ...% of SCJP. Although hardly one cares.
Marcus Green
arch rival
Rancher

Joined: Sep 14, 1999
Posts: 2813
"My dislike of the SCJP is because people can "cheat" and not learn the fundamentals"
That is amusing. Some of the most commonly asked questions about the exam are from people asking if the exam covers "advanced" topics like jdbc, swing, networking etc etc. It doesn't it covers only the basics, the utter fundamentals of the language. You could pass the exam and know nothing of swing, jdbc, servlets, rmi, ejb etc etc.

A more common criticism is that the exam only covers the fundamentals. That criticism is only valid if you are not aware of what the exam claims to cover. It covers what it claims to cover and does it well.
Marcus
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by raimondas zemaitis:
But that's the problem with SCJP's not SCJP as a test itself.

What is the purpose of the test? Is it to teach someone something? No, if you wanted to teach someone something, you would create a book and/or class. The purpose of a test is to demonstrate knowledge. Classes are for teaching/learning; tests are for showing/proving. The purpose of a test is to say to the world, "the people who passed this test understand this subject to this extent, and those who did not pass it do not have that level of understanding." That is the purpose of any and all tests.
But don't just take my word.
www.dictionary.com lists as a definition of "test":
A series of questions, problems, or physical responses designed to determine knowledge, intelligence, or ability.

Again, "determining" and not "teaching".

Given what a test is, what is the SCJP in particular? If you said to me, an SCJP understands the format of Java, and can read Java code and understand what it does, I would agree with you. If you said an SCJP can write valid Java code to do useful things, I would agree with you. But if you said an SCJP knows how to write good code, I would disagree. That, IMHO, is not tested. That does not mean no SCJP can write good code, just that having the SCJP does not imply being able to write good code. (And here I mean "good" as good OO design.)
The problem is that many people do not draw that distinction. They feel that knowledge of Java grammar, is equivalent to programming skill. You can teach me the words and rules of Russian language. I can be fluent in Russian; but that doesn't mean I can write a good novel in Russian. Too many people see an SCJP and expect them to write Russian novels.
The problem with the test is people misunderstand it/overuse it. This is true both for test takers and for companies. I am not saying it is anyone's fault, Sun's, recruiters, companies, new programmers, or whomever. Simply that the test is currently misunderstood by many (not all), and therefore, for the most part, not useful as a tool.
--Mark
hershey@vaultus.com
raimondas zemaitis
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 23, 2001
Posts: 104
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:
That does not mean no SCJP can write good code, just that having the SCJP does not imply being able to write good code. (And here I mean "good" as good OO design.)
The problem is that many people do not draw that distinction. They feel that knowledge of Java grammar, is equivalent to programming skill.
The problem with the test is people misunderstand it/overuse it. This is true both for test takers and for companies.

We've gone into dictionaries already, that's good spin of a discussion
What you mention here is purpose of SCJD and SCJA. Those three shouldn't be mixed together since purposes are different.
Who says that being SCJP == good OO programmer ? SCJP's ? Then you have all rights to let them back to the ground since goal of SCJP is different. Anyone with SCJP could state he knows basic fundamentals of the language, understands its structure, should have good understanding which direction and how to move further towards becoming a professional and should have burning desire to start building his knowledge and experience house on the top of those fundamentals he's just gotten. There's long way to go, indeed. And it almost solely depends on the abilities, efforts and dedication of our hero being discussed here (I mean someone new to the industry, not a mature professional coming from different language).
"Writing code" and "good OO design" are somewhat slightly different things IMHO. And require different skills and experience. And if you do require this skillset from SCJP or expect every SCJP should possess such ones you get into category of people just mentioned by you here - "many people do not draw that distinction".
What I think problem is that industry has been flooded with all kinds of tests, many of them being worthless what lead to: 1. disbelief by one part of people and 2. overestimation by others.
There should be a middle layer (I would reckon myself to it) that understands the real weight of such a thing and doesn't push it on every ocasion and everywhere.
I do not find anything wrong with SCJP and overall Sun's initiative of certification which is logically broken into several steps SCJP being the first one and of corresponding level. While after going through all three one could claim "being a good OO programmer".
But again, there's nothing wrong with the test itself
If one feels himself as a real programmer and takes SCJP as an outrage, why not to try SCJD or SCJA, it may well be that this is the level to align to.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by raimondas zemaitis:
What you mention here is purpose of SCJD and SCJA. Those three shouldn't be mixed together since purposes are different.

And now you've come to the heart of my objection. It's that people do mix them up. (Again, we agree on the issue, we just attribute a different status to it. I say it's a problem with the test, you say it's a problem with the people.)
Imagine if an organizaiton certified people as "Microsoft Application Developers" (I don't think there is one, which is why I choose it). "Application developer" is a pretty generic term. What does that mean? Does it mean they know how to use the MFC? Does it mean the know COM/DCOM? Does it mean they know how to make excel applicaions? What if it was the latter case, that the "application developer" really meant power user. But what if the people administering the test would say, "this will make you Real Programmer(TM)!" And what if the people who studied, and took these tests, used to be short order chefs (disgrunted about their job prospects after the BK Univeristy training :-), who really thought this is what programming is about? You'd wind up with all these people who thought they were programmers, but weren't. They get unhappy. Companies, before they realize what a "Microsoft Application Developer" meant, may have wasted time interviewing/hiring unqualified people. They get unhappy. The problem is the test was oversold.
That is what is wrong with the SCJP, too many people think because "Programmer" is in the name, it instantly makes them a programmer.
Maybe it was a mistake to use that ill-defined term. Maybe it wasn't unreasonable. In any case, the fact remains that the test, currently, as it is, misleads people into thinking they can become programmers overnight by passing the test. Again, who started this isn't the issue, it's that this is the widespread belief. Now the test is no longer useful.
It may become useful again once the "public" recognizes it for what it is, either through "public education" or by Sun rebranding the test.
(I'm not expecting us to agree. I'm just trying to help you understand the root of my position.)

--Mark
hershey@vaultus.com

raimondas zemaitis
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 23, 2001
Posts: 104
Hi Mark,
Your position is quite clear to me. I just think your conclusions are not objective "Now the test is no longer useful". Sure it is. It isn't a trivial test and the fact that even people with Java experience fail, proves this.
Now, as much as I know, the lowest position in the industry is "entry level programmer". What means someone with basic knowlege of the language and minimal or no experience (you should know better what it is). Should this test be called SCJJP, JP standing for Junior Programmer ? or SCJPA, JPA standing for Java Programmer's Assistant ? or SCJG, JG standing for Java Greenhorn ? we could go on here just for fun. You also know, I believe, what requirements for such position are and what job usually is done by these "entry levels". Now if you take and go through objectives (there are copies floating around) of the exam, you should notice that:
1. It covers basic language structure (there are 14 sections - 7 for language itself and 7 for basic packages). So, in order to prepare one has to go through all of them. What I do not appreciate is this commercial approach taken by publishing businesses as soon as exam showed up. I mean all those books that are EXAM oriented and not Java as a programming language. Many people just go through them only.
2. After sucessfull learning of all this stuff and passing exam it should be obvious that our poor student should have good grasp of what Java really is (I do ).
Is this enough for programmer's job ? Who knows. "Programmer" is rather flexible definition and different people understand it differently. It also depends what grounds one has before coming to Java with SCJP on his hands. But I think opponents of SCJP could remember their jump into industry as a programmers, what knowledge they had, etc. Many of them are self-taught, promoted from inside the company etc.
I see SCJP as an attempt to put things in an ordered way "from bottom to top".
Kim Edmister
Greenhorn

Joined: Apr 06, 2001
Posts: 1
Travis, thank you for your helpful insite. I am also a 20 year
mainframe programmer that is having a very difficult time making
a transition. Since I don't have experience, my goal is to get
my certification and hope this gives me the opportunity to make
that move. I have had a little HTML, Javascript and am finishing
up my first course at a local community college in Java. My
goal is by next year to get my certification. All us mainframe
programmers can make that move it just takes a lot more work
for us to do so because nobody believes a mainframe programmer
can learn OOP. One things for sure. The employer that lands
one of the mainframe programmers that is willing to get their
certification and do whatever it takes to move on is sure to
have a good employee.
Originally posted by Travis Gibson:
Peter,
Here's my take on Sun Certification. First off the test is somewhat difficult. It is used to show that you at least understand the core syntax and logic of Java itself.
I have heard of guys with several years of experience failing the test because it requires you to learn many of the JFC(with constructors) to memory. In the real world if you have question about an class you can just review the API specs, but it is somewhat challenging.
If you already have 2+ years of development experience then it definately complements your resume. If you have "NO" real world experience it can be the difference between a return phone call and/or telephone interview and your resume going right in the trash can.
For me it really helped me because I am from a mainframe background(COBOL/CICS/JCL/DB2) and I finally transitioned into a Java Developer just recently.

My two cents,
Travis M. Gibson, SCJP www.travismgibson.com
travis@travismgibson.com

 
It is sorta covered in the JavaRanch Style Guide.
 
subject: Please convince me about Certification