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Microsoft vs Sun certs

Michael Raymond Jr.
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 16, 2005
Posts: 178
Had to have a catchy title or no one would read my thread.


So I'm studying this SCJP, and did on and off a couple years ago as well, but now I'm really serious about it.

What I'm really serious about is not so much the SCJP cert, but the SCWCD certification, where the latter I feel could actually get me noticed in a pool of resumes. I don't want to debate the value of certifications...that can be done in another thread. But I do want to express what I think of MS certs vs Sun certs, or at least the SCJP vs the new MCTS (c#, or VB).

The whole point in getting certifications isn't so I can make my wallet thicker with more plastic cards instead of money. The point is to find suitable employment related to the certification obtained.


The SCJP is rather ridiculous if you ask me. The questions on these sample test I take seem to show how to not use the language in every imaginative way. Do note I've no professional experience, so this is merely my opinion. But, many of the questions are nothing like projects I did in school. So I'm like, who cares if I can answer this silly question with radical expressions, it won't help me program (different than knowing the language in a way).

I do think, however, the SCWCD is something useful for employment purposes. You can find a job with JSP, servlets, etc, skills desired, all of which employers are going to assume you know how to use the Java programming language rendering, I think, the SCJP mostly useless.

The unfortunate thing is that to start learning some useful skill(s) (I know I can still learn, but I feel I need the proof of a cert) like the SCWCD material, I need to pass a very difficult SCJP. Essentially, the SCJP is hindering my ability to learn advanced and more useful Java skills thus prolonging my ineffectiveness in the job market.


-------------------------------------------------
Now Microsoft has some new tracks for their newly designed certifications. The cert is called Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist. Under that heading there are specializations in Enterprise dev., Application dev, and Web App. Dev. Here's a nice link categorizing them:
http://claudiolassala.spaces.live.com/?_c11_BlogPart_FullView=1&_c11_BlogPart_BlogPart=blogview&_c=BlogPart&partqs=amonth%3D1%26ayear%3D2007
http://www.microsoft.com/learning/mcp/mcts/default.mspx

These certifications (eg 70-528 or 70-536) only require one step to pass, so there is not a general c# knowledge certification similar to the SCJP that one has to FIRST obtain.

Looking at the skills for the 70-528 exam which is the Web Dev test:
http://www.microsoft.com/learning/exams/70-528.mspx

It is clearly visible that this one cert would do more justice in the work place than the SCJP would, assuming all else equal (hiring manager thinks certs are valuable, etc). Putting aside any childish 'allegiances' to a programming language, it is clear the Microsoft test better prepares you for employment significantly better than the SJCP does. Again, I'm assuming all markets are equal (which i know they're not), value is universal, and you are looking for NEW employment.

Now some will say 'you are comparing apples to oranges', and they are probably right, but the fact is that these are both 'first level' certifications from the respective vendors Sun MS, and Microsoft. Of course the MS test is probably more in line with the SCWCD, but the fact that you can't even take that test without the SCJP is what really matters to test takers and job seekers.


Again, just my opinion, but I feel from reading the MS test (70-528 anyways) the objectives are more focused on a job role, and not just knowledge which is how I feel about the Sun tests. Sun seems to test on knowledge, not applied knowledge. I have one MS certification and one Java (the SCJA which I know is very basic), and I really feel that the MS cert did a better job of applying knowledge instead of just learning it without knowing what to do with it. More real life examples and situations used in the book essentially.


In all, depending on where you are at and what your company uses and of course interest, I would say that instead of spending time on the SCJP>SCWCD or the others, the time spent on preparing for one MS exam will be more beneficial and might even be done quicker.

-------------------------------------------------------------------
The Real Story: So at my new employer they have a software developer job open. They want VB.net or C# programming skills, including XML, ASP, MSSql, and WinForms.
Considering I have no real world experience in programming, I was thinking to myself man 'too bad MS doesn't have a programming certification'. Fortunately they do, and that might be my key with this employer. But pertaining to this post, every single one of those skills in the job ad (and those were all the skills they listed, though perhaps some are implicit and not listed), 'can' be obtained in just the one MS certification (70-528).


So I'm thinkin', man, what a waste of time to study this SCJP to death:
int i = 2;
int i2 = 3;
int i3 = -4;
//What does this equal?
i = i++ + i3 (i%2) - --i2 * i3...lol ok, I could continue, but I'm just trying to make a point. I think anyone ever studied for the SCJP knows what I'm talking about.


What's my conclusion? I guess my opinions mainly apply to newbies with no experience. Because I can see how an experienced developer might look to the SCJP as a way to separate themselves from others. But for people trying to enter the market, I don't think this SCJP helps much at all unless you are on a University campus during a recruiting fair where the employer is looking specifically for people without experience. Instead, i think a newbie has a better chance with the MS cert and getting a entry level position at a small software company that's been influenced by MS (they are a MS partner).

For the Sun exam creators, they should ask themselves a simple question to gauge the effectiveness of the SCJP: "How many people would study for the SCJP if they could take, for instance, the SCWCD without needing to take the SCJP first?" Or, "How many jobs have you seen wanting Swing, JSP, Servlets, EJB, etc, compared to jobs wanting people with skills in String concatenation, literals, exceptions?" Probably nada, that's because those skills are expected, not desired, even if all programmers don't have them.

Ok, let the attacks commence!



Scooby Snacks for everyone...<br /> <br />SCJA, SCJP 1.4
Theodore Casser
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 14, 2001
Posts: 1902

Not really an attack, so bear that in mind. You have some of your information incorrect in the original post.

Actually, there is an equivalent to the SCJP exam for Microsoft, and you mentioned it - 70-536, the .Net 2.0 Fundamentals exam. (I should know - I'm studying for that currently.) To get the MCTS certification from Microsoft, though, you need to take two exams - 70-536 and one of three technology-specific exams (70-526 (Windows Apps), 70-528 (Web Clients) or 70-529 (Distributed Apps)). It's why it seems like the MS program is better preparation for the real world, which is to say that you're not noticing the required first step. If you look at the page for 70-528 that you referenced, and clicked on the link under 'Credit Towards Certification', you'd have seen that.

So to answer the issue that you raised... the two programs aren't that different. The difference falls in the fact that MS does not issue a certification specifically for their language/framework fundamentals exam. Either way, to get the certification that pertains to web component design (MCTS for Web Clients or SCJP/SCWCD), you need to take two exams.

My personal preference is the way Sun does it - there's an exam that states to a potential/current employer that you know the basics of the language and can, in theory, be expected to program competently. Once you have that, you can move on to role-specific examinations like SCBCD or SCDJWS that suit the direction you're taking your career. (I suspect that my preference is also from a point of view of "immediate gratification" - the biggest frustration I'm facing with the MS exams is the fact that I'll have to sit for a second one in about a month to get the MCTS cert - as well as some loyalty to Java over C#.)

From having been on the far side of the hiring table, I also know that I would not likely hire someone who had only the SCWCD without the SCJP - I would want to be sure they have more flexibility by knowing the basics than simply the technology-specific features covered by the later exam. Likewise, I wouldn't be as inclined to hire someone who passed 70-528 unless they'd passed 70-536 and thereby proved they knew the fundamentals of their chosen language. I might be odd thinking that, but I doubt it.

I think that, in the end, what matters most is making sure you know what you're getting into with a certification program. Whether it's one exam or two or five to get to that certification, be prepared.


Theodore Jonathan Casser
SCJP/SCSNI/SCBCD/SCWCD/SCDJWS/SCMAD/SCEA/MCTS/MCPD... and so many more letters than you can shake a stick at!
Alejandro Dominguez
Greenhorn

Joined: Jun 01, 2007
Posts: 28
<attack>

In adition to what Theodore said I can add the following:
I know a couple of people who have been programming in Java from 1 to 3-4 years and then decided to take the SCJP and started studying from it. Well, all of them learnt things they didn't immagine! Another rancher said something like "in our jobs, 50% is probably copy/paste", to which I strongly agree. The idea behind the SCJP, from my point of view, is to make sure you know the BASICS of the language (it doesn't even come close to covering it 100%), so that people have a common grand from which continue studying.
Hard? Absolutly not. A challenge? Certainly so. With 2-3 hrs per day most people will pass it with at least 70% in under 2 months.

To keep it short, how could you ever start studying EJB and the JPA without knowing the difference between a Set, HashSet and TreeSet?

Sure, there are some tricky questions like the one you mentioned, but look at them as having some fun!

BTW, my wife is MCAD and now wants to upgrade to MCPD. Guess what? The upgrade exam is huge! The step-step by step strategy touches .Net 2.0 basics, MCTS and finally MCPD.

</attack>

Just my 0.02.


Alejandro<br /> <br />SCJP 5 (SAI)
Michael Raymond Jr.
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 16, 2005
Posts: 178
Originally posted by Theodore Casser:
Not really an attack, so bear that in mind. You have some of your information incorrect in the original post.

Actually, there is an equivalent to the SCJP exam for Microsoft, and you mentioned it - 70-536, the .Net 2.0 Fundamentals exam. (I should know - I'm studying for that currently.) To get the MCTS certification from Microsoft, though, you need to take two exams - 70-536 and one of three technology-specific exams (70-526 (Windows Apps), 70-528 (Web Clients) or 70-529 (Distributed Apps)). It's why it seems like the MS program is better preparation for the real world, which is to say that you're not noticing the required first step. If you look at the page for 70-528 that you referenced, and clicked on the link under 'Credit Towards Certification', you'd have seen that.

So to answer the issue that you raised... the two programs aren't that different. The difference falls in the fact that MS does not issue a certification specifically for their language/framework fundamentals exam. Either way, to get the certification that pertains to web component design (MCTS for Web Clients or SCJP/SCWCD), you need to take two exams.

My personal preference is the way Sun does it - there's an exam that states to a potential/current employer that you know the basics of the language and can, in theory, be expected to program competently. Once you have that, you can move on to role-specific examinations like SCBCD or SCDJWS that suit the direction you're taking your career. (I suspect that my preference is also from a point of view of "immediate gratification" - the biggest frustration I'm facing with the MS exams is the fact that I'll have to sit for a second one in about a month to get the MCTS cert - as well as some loyalty to Java over C#.)

From having been on the far side of the hiring table, I also know that I would not likely hire someone who had only the SCWCD without the SCJP - I would want to be sure they have more flexibility by knowing the basics than simply the technology-specific features covered by the later exam. Likewise, I wouldn't be as inclined to hire someone who passed 70-528 unless they'd passed 70-536 and thereby proved they knew the fundamentals of their chosen language. I might be odd thinking that, but I doubt it.

I think that, in the end, what matters most is making sure you know what you're getting into with a certification program. Whether it's one exam or two or five to get to that certification, be prepared.





Well, I was using the 70-528 as an example, but the 70-536 is still better than SCJP. And while you need both the 70-528/536 to be MCTS, you still end up MCP on each INDIVIDUAL test. So while you can't say you are MCTS in Web Dev or whatever, you could potentially say MCP in <insert exam taken>. And as I understand (maybe i"m wrong on this since I just started looking into it), but you do not have to take the 536 before the 528 and vice versa, even if MS recommends it. I went through the 70-528 book myself, and I don't see why one would need to do the 536 exam first anyways. Just seem like two totally different tests. Anyways, I still think the 536 is better than the SCJP(any version). The 70-536 just seems to better prepare candidates to build applications, not just learn the C# or VB language, like how the SCJP only prepares candidates to learn the Java language. I've only briefly read the MS books related to the two exams we've been discussing, but I've throughly read the SCJP books and they are not as good(the authors are brilliant, just some of the objectives and many test questions suck).


----------------------------
For the second poster: I never said you don't learn anything from the SCJP...quite the contrary. My beef is that I don't think it makes one without experience any more valuable, or at least not enough to make a difference. Again, I think the SCJP in its current form is only useful for two purposes:
- One if you want to pursue the higher certs, or more role specific certs from Sun (SCJP, SCWCD, etc), but only because it's a mandatory pre-req
- and two, if you have experience and want to separate yourself from others, but with this scenario I think it's value is limited

The other certs (ie MCAD, MCSD) seem significantly more encompassing compared to the SCJP or that and a combination of one other Sun cert, I don't even think it's worth comparing. I'm not comparing those anyways, but you are more than welcome to create a new thread discussing why those are similar to the SCJP and/or whatever.




-------------------------------------
There was another point I failed to mention about the MS vs Sun certs in my first post. Do note I'm mainly talking bout the SCJP and the SCWCD (less familiar with). The Sun prep books discourage readers from using an IDE(and they seem to think this is good) so 'we can learn the language better', I guess. Perhaps that's true, but in the real world people use an IDE. Nobody busts out notepad and writes a full scale program in bloody notepad. They should incorporate eclipse, or Jbuilder, or something other than the retarded command line SDK. Again, just another reason why the MS certs better prepare candidates than do the Sun certs. Knowing an IDE is a skill in and of itself. MS press book do not discourage this and in fact you almost have to use Visual Studio.

I'm not bashing the Java language, just comparing the specific certifications, and pointing out what I think are flaws with Sun's SCJP content, its questions, and their structure in obtaining the higher level certs. SCJP 1.5 is a bit better than 1.4 I will say to their credit.
Theodore Casser
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 14, 2001
Posts: 1902

Originally posted by Michael Raymond Jr.:
Well, I was using the 70-528 as an example, but the 70-536 is still better than SCJP.


That's really a rather subjective statement. Having been preparing for 70-536 and having passed two versions of the SCJP, I'd say they're about on par with each other.

And while you need both the 70-528/536 to be MCTS, you still end up MCP on each INDIVIDUAL test. So while you can't say you are MCTS in Web Dev or whatever, you could potentially say MCP in <insert exam taken>.


My understanding of the MS program is that you're correct - there's nothing on their site that says one is a prerequisite for the other. However, I also stand by my statement - I would not hire a developer who is an "MCP in <exam taken>" (take your pick between 70-526, -528 and -529). I feel the language fundamentals are important and should not be overlooked or ignored due to being "not worth it".

And as I understand (maybe i"m wrong on this since I just started looking into it), but you do not have to take the 536 before the 528 and vice versa, even if MS recommends it. I went through the 70-528 book myself, and I don't see why one would need to do the 536 exam first anyways. Just seem like two totally different tests.


That would be because they are two totally different tests.

Anyways, I still think the 536 is better than the SCJP(any version).


Again, that's all subjective.

The 70-536 just seems to better prepare candidates to build applications, not just learn the C# or VB language, like how the SCJP only prepares candidates to learn the Java language.


I'd be interested to hear how you came to that conclusion, seeing as you have neither certification apparently. I, for one, would disagree with you on your conclusion regarding SCJP - I found that, rather than "preparing" me to learn the language, it made me sit down and learn the parts that I don't use in my daily job.

I don't think, personally, either one prepares a candidate to build applications. I think they validate whether or not the candidate knows the vocabulary and grammar of a given language, and can in theory assemble syntactically correct code, nothing more. Experience prepares a candidate to build applications.

I've only briefly read the MS books related to the two exams we've been discussing, but I've throughly read the SCJP books and they are not as good(the authors are brilliant, just some of the objectives and many test questions suck).


Actually, I beg to differ on the quality of the MS books, from having used the 70-536 to prepare for the exam (now 10 days away for me). They are very poorly copy-edited and don't give you all the information you need to pass the exam. The study questions at the end of some of the chapters ask questions on information that wasn't offered in the text itself. And there is a decided lack of other materials to compare the MS Press books to.

On the other hand, I can fairly say that while not all SCJP books are up to snuff, there are certainly enough out there that you can mix-and-match to find a solution that works for you and is complete. Likewise, there's a vast array of alternative study solutions for the exam that don't exist for 70-536. Don't necessarily smear the exam because of the study materials, most of which are not from Sun itself.

Again, I think the SCJP in its current form is only useful for two purposes:
- One if you want to pursue the higher certs, or more role specific certs from Sun (SCJP, SCWCD, etc), but only because it's a mandatory pre-req
- and two, if you have experience and want to separate yourself from others, but with this scenario I think it's value is limited


It all depends, imho, on what your goal is in taking the exam. Certainly, if you just want the MCP from Microsoft, then there's no reason to have to take the fundamentals exam. However, like SCJP, Microsoft has exams that require the full MCTS as a prerequisite for credentials, so I think your argument is lacking something here, though that's just my opinion.

The other certs (ie MCAD, MCSD) seem significantly more encompassing compared to the SCJP or that and a combination of one other Sun cert, I don't even think it's worth comparing. I'm not comparing those anyways, but you are more than welcome to create a new thread discussing why those are similar to the SCJP and/or whatever.


Actually, I think he made a fair argument - MCAD/MCSD are the prior-version (.Net 1.0/1.1) credentials that correspond to the current program. Microsoft redesigned their program to be more role-based, like Sun's, in the last year or so.

There was another point I failed to mention about the MS vs Sun certs in my first post. Do note I'm mainly talking bout the SCJP and the SCWCD (less familiar with). The Sun prep books discourage readers from using an IDE(and they seem to think this is good) so 'we can learn the language better', I guess.


I think it's slightly disingenuous to start slurring Sun (and those who have written books for Sun certification preparation) for their discouraging the use of IDEs while learning Java. Microsoft has a vested (and proper) interest in their candidates using Visual Studio - it's their product and their language, and the product was specifically built for the purpose of being used as the platform for writing .Net code. Every piece of material I have read for the .Net exams assumes you're using VS due to this reason and there are questions on the exams (I assume, based on their presence in the preparation material they enclose with the books) that directly relate to the use of VS for such.

I'd wager that a great many .Net developers aren't aware that there are command-line utilities for compilation, or that they could develop without an IDE. Not that I'd advocate such, but the point is valid.

Perhaps that's true, but in the real world people use an IDE. Nobody busts out notepad and writes a full scale program in bloody notepad. They should incorporate eclipse, or Jbuilder, or something other than the retarded command line SDK. Again, just another reason why the MS certs better prepare candidates than do the Sun certs. Knowing an IDE is a skill in and of itself. MS press book do not discourage this and in fact you almost have to use Visual Studio.


Again, knowing VS is stated to be part of the .Net exams. And actually, I have written a full scale program in Notepad, when I've had to. It's harder than with an IDE, but it is certainly not impossible.

I think you're crossing Sun's not requiring IDE knowledge for the exam and the books out there encouraging you to not learn with one. There's a distinct difference between the two - Sun, on one hand, is not making their exam dependent on one "blessed" IDE, while the books are simply trying to encourage you to type in code long-hand in order to better learn the way it works. The books don't encourage you to avoid an IDE because Sun thinks there's something wrong with them. Further... there are multiple Java IDEs, as you yourself pointed out, while I can name just one single non-MS IDE for .Net (SharpDevelop).

I'm not bashing the Java language, just comparing the specific certifications, and pointing out what I think are flaws with Sun's SCJP content, its questions, and their structure in obtaining the higher level certs. SCJP 1.5 is a bit better than 1.4 I will say to their credit.


And likewise, I'm not bashing your critique, just pointing out where I feel it falls short. Certainly, you are entitled to your opinion on the matter, but I think there's some faults in the logic you're using to prove your conclusion, as we've been pointing out in this thread.
Michael Raymond Jr.
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 16, 2005
Posts: 178
We will have to agree to disagree on nearly every point then. No point in going merry-go-round forever... Readers can look into both certifications and judge what they think is best.

In the mean time I'll continue with the MCTS, at least until I work for an employer that actually develops in Java (seemingly rare in my part of the USA- not SanFran ;-). Funny thing is I was anti-MS just two weeks ago, and would never even look at C#. Now that my employer is a MS partner and 4out5 software companies I recently interviewed with were as well, I decided to give c#/MS a fair shot(my employer expressed interest as well$$), and I am thoroughly impressed to say the least.
Theodore Casser
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 14, 2001
Posts: 1902

Not trying, really, to beat a dead horse, but thought I'd pass along something I just learned after passing 70-536 on Friday.

According to an updated page at Microsoft's learning site, 70-536 does not qualify for an MCP certification. By my reading of it, I'd assume that any of the "second" exams for MCTS would qualify as an MCP as was previously asserted in this thread, but I still don't know that I'd hire someone who took the "easy" way out on that rather than completing both parts of the MCTS.
David Marsh
Greenhorn

Joined: Jun 12, 2003
Posts: 6
I don't think there really is a fair comparison.

The Sun certs take a more traditional computer science approach where you learn from the ground up, in contrast to you I'd say this makes them far more suitable to people without experience. They don't deal with non core issues like RAD, team devlopment etc.

The new Microsoft (MCPD) exams are designed for people with 3+ years hands on experience. They take a much different tack, they focus on having a broad knowledge of the .Net framework and the dev environment rather than a deep appreciation of say C# and the CLR.

The two approaches to me are completely different, the only similarites lie in that they both have streams based on different roles applications, Web/Business/SOA in case Java, Web/Thick client/SOA in case .Net.

The advanced Sun certs at least test real world skills, if you take the SCJD or SCEA certs you will have to create real applications or designs just like in real life, the microsoft exams do not have this.

I have to agree that I am impressed with microsofts offering, they have taken the Java ideas and ran with them to create a product that is probably fuller featured and more cohesive, however being microsoft they did have certain advantages !

David
[ August 27, 2007: Message edited by: David Marsh ]

SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCEA, MCPD, N+
Yohan Liyanage
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 17, 2007
Posts: 132

I agree with David. However, I feel better about Sun's approach because in that way, we get to learn many aspects of Java which is usually hidden in real world projects. The knowledge becomes handy sometimes. Anyway, the questions in SCJP is somewhat weird as well.


[ August 27, 2007: Message edited by: Yohan Liyanage ]

Yohan Liyanage
http://blog.yohanliyanage.com
David Marsh
Greenhorn

Joined: Jun 12, 2003
Posts: 6
the questions in SCJP is somewhat weird as well.


Well SCJP and the M$ exams are multiple choice 'Tests', they are just exams that test certain knowledge, they don't represent real life, whatever they profess to test.

The SCJP exam is very similar to the sort of questions you get in other langauge or computer science exams, they focus on knowledge of the language, syntax and semantics. They serve just to prove that you have hit a set of criteria in terms of base knowledge.

I think the tack microsoft have taken with their 3 year recert is wrong where they are trying to use certs to prove current proficiency, certs on their own will never do this and certain technologies change so fast that the exams are constantly out of date while other tech does not change at all.
Francesco Bianchi
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 22, 2007
Posts: 62
Originally posted by Michael Raymond Jr.:

- and two, if you have experience and want to separate yourself from others, but with this scenario I think it's value is limited


The spirit you should have while preparing for a new certification should be pretty different. You are spending your time and sacrificing your free-time to aquire a better and deeper knowledge of a certain technology. With that knowledge you refine your skills, find confidence in what you do, stop to program with a "trial and error" approach, hoping your code never blows up in your face. By studying a cert you BECOME better prepared, you are not merely CONSIDERED so by others. And it is with your work quality excellence that avoid being fired in crysis situations and allows you to gain promotions and more challenging (and satisfying???) tasks.

IN ADDITION to all of these, you get something more to write on your CV. But this is something usefull only while finding the first (maybe second) job in your life.

My opinion? For sure..but also what I have found at the beginning of every single Sun Cert Book I have read so far.


SCJP 5 & 6, SCWCD 5, SCBCD 5
David Marsh
Greenhorn

Joined: Jun 12, 2003
Posts: 6
The spirit you should have while preparing for a new certification should be pretty different. You are spending your time and sacrificing your free-time to aquire a better and deeper knowledge of a certain technology. With that knowledge you refine your skills, find confidence in what you do, stop to program with a "trial and error" approach, hoping your code never blows up in your face. By studying a cert you BECOME better prepared, you are not merely CONSIDERED so by others. And it is with your work quality excellence that avoid being fired in crysis situations and allows you to gain promotions and more challenging (and satisfying???) tasks.


Possibly, however I was a professional C++ programmer for many years, I was highly technical, I read hundreds of books, went to conventions. Programed in my spare time as well as at work. I never needed certs to do many of the things you mention as being core to certs, I think you are confusing excellence with certifiying, the two are not necessarilly connected.

I've NEVER coded by trail and error, this is simply poor practice, ask anyone from a machine code or mainframe background. Guys used to debug their code on punched cards for hells sake, read up on Donald Knuth, ideally you should be 90%+ on your program before you run it, modern scripting languages have made people sloppy. Read up on coding by contract etc. No one ever said you should code like that, if you were putting code on a rocket to go to end of the solar system would you code like that ?

Working hard and continued learning at work and in my spare time are mandatory parts of being in IT to me, certs are just a way to have more structured learning with proof for employers.

You could probably compare certs to a karate black belt, does a black belt make you a good fighter ? Maybe. Are there many good fighters in the world that don't have a black belt you'd better believe it, and they'd eat the average black belt for breakfast.
[ August 28, 2007: Message edited by: David Marsh ]
Francesco Bianchi
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 22, 2007
Posts: 62
Originally posted by David Marsh:


Working hard and continued learning at work and in my spare time are mandatory parts of being in IT to me, certs are just a way to have more structured learning with proof for employers.

You could probably compare certs to a karate black belt, does a black belt make you a good fighter ? Maybe. Are there many good fighters in the world that don't have a black belt you'd better believe it, and they'd eat the average black belt for breakfast.


I totally agree with you. Just got grumpy when listening to someone telling that a Kick Boxing course where they teach how to kick without any discipline and solid technique thinks they know enough to say "I can fight" and that once they can give a kick they don't need to refine it and understand WHY they give it that way. The problem is that often (at least in Italy) IT companies prefer fighters who can just give un-coordinate and staggering kicks to really prepared veteran fighters.

Probably a deep knowledge of IT is getting every day more and more hard to achieve. Maybe it is even un-useful if not in certain peculiar situations..but I find it depressing.

Moreover, my personal experience tells me that often certs are taken by people which already have a solid background (as your case is) mainly for passion...and..well..to have a proof that they can really do what they claim So, STATISTICS tells me that an IT black belt is a great warrior, not LOGIC or INFERENCE
Theodore Casser
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 14, 2001
Posts: 1902

I'm of the opinion that certs do still matter - oftentimes if not to one's own company, than to one's company's clients. (I know that while my boss, for instance, couldn't care how many sets of acronyms I have after my name, he and I both know that our client loves it.) And admittedly, I tend to get mine since I end up having to learn a technology and figure I ought to have something to show for it, but...

Back to the whole MS vs Sun thing. I don't know that I disagree with how MS is handling it (see today's post on Trika's blog). The MCPD (professional-level) exams are going to require renewal/refresh in three years unless MS decides there's reason to extend that. MCTS (the lower level developer exams) are going to only expire when they reach end-of-service on the specific version (about 10 years). While I don't know that I necessarily like that they have set such a short period for their upper level certs to be valid, I do understand where they're coming from... and I do agree that there should be some level of currency if you're still in the field at that point.

As one commenter also noted, though, there's times one's customers still use older versions of software that would fall into a situation where a cert had been retired... and that's why I would still (personally) mention having attained the appropriate certification. Expiry doesn't mean that you suddenly lose the skills...
raj malhotra
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 22, 2007
Posts: 285
I like sun way.I must say that after doing my scjp exam ,i am far better progmrammer in a way that i can trace errors in program quickly then my colleagues.Thanks to scjp it made me better analyser..
David Marsh
Greenhorn

Joined: Jun 12, 2003
Posts: 6
I agree certs have a value because others rightly or wrongly perceive they have value, the marketing that goes into the program can be useful to wave under customers or recruiters noses sometimes.

I think recertification and retirement is an emotive thing, why retire a qualification ? Did that person not study for and take that exam ? Why erase their efforts ? Do they 'unlearn' everything in 3 years ? I think Sun made the right decision on recertification, the sun exams currently cost �150 in the UK, double that of the US. Just because you can study and pass an exam does not mean that it is useful, better to spend the time doing useful work.

and that's why I would still (personally) mention having attained the appropriate certification. Expiry doesn't mean that you suddenly lose the skills...


Thats the point, regardless of what customers/employers want you would not be allowed to state that you had attained the cert. Many technologies don't change that much for many years, OO design, Relational Databases etc.
If a few API's change should people immediately have to recert?

What if the technology was flawed so they change the spec every ten minutes ? Should you have to bear the cost and recert then ? People don't retake their degrees, masters or doctorates every 10 minutes yet they are still respected no?

Of course central is whether you see certs as educational quals merely indicative of some understanding or if you see them as 'certifying' knowing how to use an exact product version. I see the first as a more useful approach, especially as the training courses and materials often don't keep pace with the technology. Also I'd rather teach knowledge, things like algorithms, DHCP etc. Not trivia or facts masquerading as knowledge like do you know the name of the HashMap class or do you know what a M$ dialog looks like.
[ August 30, 2007: Message edited by: David Marsh ]
Marc Wentink
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 18, 2007
Posts: 142
Hi, I am doing 70-528 at the moment, and I did SCJP5 recently. I must say that SCJP5 sometimes teaches you to be 'the javac compiler'. Nevertheless knowing all semantics does help you speeding up writing your code a bit, you do not have to copy and paste code. Also SCJP is more then java semantics, it's also threading, some API knowledge et cetera. I actually did not think it was useless, nor that 100% of the stuff was usefull, something in between.

And then I think a lot of human resource dude, only see you have a certification anyhow, put a mark 'he knows java stuff', and do not even know what computer language semantics are. So in that sense it still has use.

But I agree in the exam there is too much focus on sneaky 'does not compile' answers. What use is it to know, after carefully examing some code for a minute, that there is a semicolon missing in the code of the mock question when the compiler can check that in a 1/1000 second?

For SCJP I would say, cut down these stupid trick questions on semantics and then pull up the limit for passing from 59 to 70 percent. Then it would be more usefull.


SCJP5
Marc Peabody
pie sneak
Sheriff

Joined: Feb 05, 2003
Posts: 4727

Originally posted by David Marsh:
Of course central is whether you see certs as educational quals merely indicative of some understanding or if you see them as 'certifying' knowing how to use an exact product version. I see the first as a more useful approach, especially as the training courses and materials often don't keep pace with the technology. Also I'd rather teach knowledge, things like algorithms, DHCP etc. Not trivia or facts masquerading as knowledge like do you know the name of the HashMap class or do you know what a M$ dialog looks like.

A certification in general "understanding" is what a college/university degree is for. Most certifications test your knowledge in a specific language or toolset and are provided by individual vendors offering a way for users to demonstrate proficiency in their product.

The trivial questions are like a Spanish teacher expecting you know how to spell casa correctly or a geography teacher expecting you to locate Turkey on a world map. One could say "I don't need to know how to spell everything in Spanish to live in a Spanish-speaking country" or "I don't need to know where Turkey is - I only need to know where the airport is and the pilot takes care of locating Turkey for me".

You're not getting certified in how to get by or to demonstrate that you're generally computer-smart, a certification is to show proficiency in a specific language or toolset.


A good workman is known by his tools.
Michael Raymond Jr.
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 16, 2005
Posts: 178
Originally posted by Marc Wentink:
Hi, I am doing 70-528 at the moment, and I did SCJP5 recently. I must say that SCJP5 sometimes teaches you to be 'the javac compiler'. Nevertheless knowing all semantics does help you speeding up writing your code a bit, you do not have to copy and paste code. Also SCJP is more then java semantics, it's also threading, some API knowledge et cetera. I actually did not think it was useless, nor that 100% of the stuff was usefull, something in between.

And then I think a lot of human resource dude, only see you have a certification anyhow, put a mark 'he knows java stuff', and do not even know what computer language semantics are. So in that sense it still has use.

But I agree in the exam there is too much focus on sneaky 'does not compile' answers. What use is it to know, after carefully examing some code for a minute, that there is a semicolon missing in the code of the mock question when the compiler can check that in a 1/1000 second?

For SCJP I would say, cut down these stupid trick questions on semantics and then pull up the limit for passing from 59 to 70 percent. Then it would be more usefull.


That's exactly all i'm saying...get rid of the super unreleastic questions. i'd also like to see sun endorse an IDE, at least for the scjp exam. how great if employers knew the scjp meant the potential employee had exposure to eclipse, or whatever, and not just textpad, etc.

for the record, i'm still a java/scjp fan and definately love
kathy/bert.



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certs do matter. i've been employed by two places that required related certifications for the job and other interviews that said that one thing they like about me is my certification in xyz. it doesn't really matter if we think certs are vaulable, though, it only matters if the propsective employer does. i think many out there do and that, to me, is undeniable and is why i will continue to pursue them.

also, resounding applause for sun making versions of the scjp, etc, instead of 'expiring' them.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://aspose.com/file-tools
 
subject: Microsoft vs Sun certs