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How effective is it having SCEA certification for a 10 yr experienced java pro?

Padma
Greenhorn

Joined: Dec 10, 2007
Posts: 2
Hi,

I would like to know if architect certification really helps a 10+ yr experienced professional. I have been hearing two different arguments. Some say it isnt worth because you already have a good experience designing applications. Some people argue that certification helps in getting close to the subject better. I do incline towards the second argument but would like to know more from you. Is it worth getting SCEA certification after 10 yrs of java working experience (including desiging applications)?

Regards,
Padma.
Jeff Walker
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 25, 2004
Posts: 116
Hi Padma,
I'd like to offer an opinion. Mine opinion is somewhat negative.

1. I think the certs are not very useful. I have the SCJP, SCWCD and SCBCD certs. I am doing the web services exam soon and then onto the scea. Here's the problem. When I did the SCJP in 2000, just as I took it, another version of Java was about to be released in the following 6 months, technically making my new cert obsolete. I did the SCWCD exam the next year, and again, Servlet Spec 1.4 came out around then, I think. I took the SCBCD (EJB 2.0) in 2005, and after it there was talk of EJB 3.0 being worked on.

Again, I am doing the web services exam in March and already it is dramatically out of date.

I have to ask, what is the point of getting certs if they are perpetually getting out of date? The answer is obviously, because it's a treadmill that Sun has us all on. It's a way for them to make money on old technology.

2. I work as a contractor, and feel I need to stay up on many technologies to secure my next contract job. I initially felt Java certs were a decent way to show a certain standard has been achieved. While this theory seems logical, in practice it isn't quite so straight forward. I have never had a client insist on any cert, but some do mark it as a 'plus' which is supposed to mean your resume will move up the ladder of consideration if you have the cert they reqesuted.

But I have never been told that the certs I have have helped me secure any position. I know many contractors who hold few or no certs and they make a ton of money. They rely on carefully chosen work experience. That is, they scour the landscape looking for the next hot technologies. Right now, that seems to be Flex.

As an example, they travel anywhere in the U.S. to get Flex experience. Then they tout themselves as a Flex expert (after only 6 months) and ask for a very high rate. They do NOT waste their limited time studying old technology. After about 2 more years, Flex will be old (many developers will jump on the boat and sink the boat by then) and my contractor friends will have already moved onto the next big thing.

My issue is that many technologies simply don't appeal to me. I was hoping to stay in the Java world, but it is full of people just starting out or worse, with good levels of experience. Which means to me that the Java boat is about full!

So, it depends on what you want the cert to do for you, doesn't it?

Because there is one thing you can be certain of. If you start to gather a bunch of certifications, you will have to make the decision to either abandon getting more certs when they are no longer current, or have to redo them with the latest and greatest version of Java, at about $200 a pop!

-jeff
Andrew Monkhouse
author and jackaroo
Marshal Commander

Joined: Mar 28, 2003
Posts: 11424
    
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"Padma"

Please check your private messages

Thanks, Andrew


The Sun Certified Java Developer Exam with J2SE 5: paper version from Amazon, PDF from Apress, Online reference: Books 24x7 Personal blog
Billy Tsai
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 23, 2003
Posts: 1297
one really has to wonder is the new SCEA 5 worth the value when one has been working on Struts, Spring, Hibernate or SOA platform products such as WebSphere process server or JBoss SOA Enterprise platform for a long time


BEA 8.1 Certified Administrator, IBM Certified Solution Developer For XML 1.1 and Related Technologies, SCJP, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCDJWS, SCJD, SCEA,
Oracle Certified Master Java EE 5 Enterprise Architect
Hong Anderson
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 05, 2005
Posts: 1936
It's not matter that how many years of experience you have.
What matter is how many years you're an architect.

If you are not an architect even you have experience as a programmer 30 years, I think it's good to study software architecture.


SCJA 1.0, SCJP 1.4, SCWCD 1.4, SCBCD 1.3, SCJP 5.0, SCEA 5, SCBCD 5; OCUP - Fundamental, Intermediate and Advanced; IBM Certified Solution Designer - OOAD, vUML 2; SpringSource Certified Spring Professional
Theodore Casser
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 14, 2001
Posts: 1902

I like this post since it's at least a new variation on the otherwise tired question of "are certifications worthwhile?".

My thoughts: I think it depends, very much, on a few factors. The greatest of these are going to be client/employer considerations - after all, certs are really more of a prestige matter than anything that screams experience (since you can, obviously, pass the test sometimes without having real experience). Below that, though, are going to be your own feelings on it - if you don't feel the certifications have something positive to present, you're going to have a harder time convincing others of it. And third may well be the matter of how up-to-date the certifications are.

I think that some folks seem to look on experience or certification as a one-or-the-other means for showing qualifications. I like to think that certifications are a validation of experience, showing that you know a certain skill set to a level that is established by an outside organization. (For instance, my boss knows I can design an application and implement, but having SCEA and SCJP/SCWCD often says to our clients that I can do it within industry accepted standards.)

And that's from my viewpoint as a 10 year experienced java pro.


Theodore Jonathan Casser
SCJP/SCSNI/SCBCD/SCWCD/SCDJWS/SCMAD/SCEA/MCTS/MCPD... and so many more letters than you can shake a stick at!
Jim Doyle
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 18, 2003
Posts: 36

I think the answer to your question is "It depends on other circumstances".
I'll give three reasons why an SCEA is a great idea:

For people without a college degree ; having a series of increasingly challenging certifications shows a committment to reading and studying a body of knowledge. IT is no longer the wild-west like it was in 1997 and now even people with only 2-3 years of college who left an engineering degree unfinished due to financial reasons are being squeezed out despite 5+ years experience.If you are in this situation, and dont have the time for part-time college, you really really need to have a portfolio of certifications to remain competitive. There's alot of folk out there we call "grunt programmers" - they can borrow ideas from corwokers, and cut and paste examples from support sites, but they are very weak with blank-slate design from requirements or insight into performance/maintainability. The livelihood of grunt programmers is going away and you need certification to distinguish yourself from the herd.

In the USA, there's an increasing concern that IT workers near or over 40
are no longer desireable. I think an SCEA is a perfect 40th Birthday Present to yourself. After all, I dont think most people are ready for heavy, enterprise architecture (or managing projects) until your mid-30s.
Every other field has Continuing Education requirements, why not IT. The
SCEA will show that even though you are 40, you will make time on your own
time to stay up to date and invest in your professional development.

Last, I think if you are a hardcore developer that likely makes architectural decisions on the fly, the SCEA is a nice FORCE FED lesson on
planning *AND* documentation. You can use the SCEA as an opportunity to learn some UML and documentation skills that you might be rusty on so that you can ENHANCE your skills in the future by augmenting your projects with SOME degree of formal documentation. It's just practice at that point, and you can take away from the experience the certification plus some familiarity with process that will let you work alot better with other developers and your project manager.
Billy Tsai
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 23, 2003
Posts: 1297
unfortunately a lot of management people or PMs don't even know what the hell SCEA is about and they just ignore that certification you have.
Even some technical leaders with technical postgraduate degree from famous universities don't care about that certification either. So it makes me wonder maybe it is better just to spend 1-2 years obtaining a postgraduate research degree from good university instead of just pursuing the newest SCEA?
[ March 01, 2008: Message edited by: Billy Tsai ]
chris zielinski
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 22, 2007
Posts: 41
I'll share my 2c worth on the SCEA certification.

Unlike many other certifications, the SCEA exam is really more about holistic approach to business problem decomposition. If you look very closely at the SCEA exam and its syllabus much of the exam is really about UML, patterns and the ability to understand a business problem and propose a solution path.

If you consider Part 1 of the SCEA as the technology portion and parts 2 and 3 as the real meat of the exam you will see where I am going with my argument. The Part 1 is replaceable. If there comes JEE6 instead of JEE5, retake part 1 and you will have your new SCEA certification. Similarly if there is a JEE7 instead of JEE6, retake part 1 for the new exam.

Parts 2/3 on the other hand are really technology agnostic for much of work. Creating business domain models, creating logical architectures are a step above base technology issues like EJB/Struts/JSF etc. I am not trying to say that you don't need to know the underlying technology to create the architecture, but definitely there is more to architecture than just the underlying technology.

I see a lot of questions such as "Can I use spring for Part 2, or can I use EJB2 for Part 2" etc. That really shows that many people are missing the crux of what Part 2 really is. If your part 2 solution involved detailed struts components or JSF components then in my opinion you have missed the crux of the Part 2 exam completely.

Having had the luxury of doing "pure" architecture for a few years I am slowly beginning to comprehend the difference in the architect and developer roles. Many people in the software industry don't know the difference between an architect and a senior developer either and therefore an architect ends up doing much more core development work that they should be.

To round up, I'd say take a look at a more mature industry like civil engineering. Think of what a Structural architect does, take a look at what a civil engineer does, take a look at what the construction supervisor does. Each has their roles well defined. Never ever does a structural architect pick up a brick in his hand and start laying the wall. Of course, if the structural architect does not know how much load a wall can hold, then the wall is going to come crashing down when built..

Similarly a software architect needs to know the pitfalls of his suggested architecture. In order to do that, the software architect needs to have experienced building systems, but the software architect does not need to be knee deep in the code to understand the pitfalls.

The SCEA (parts 2/3) exam makes one look at the non-functional requirements. The solution must meet the functional requirements, yes, but always always keeping in mind the non-functional aspects. This is the very crux of the assignment and this is what you will be graded on, not whether you used EJB3 or EJB2.

There is no other such certification in the industry, and therefore just for Parts 2/3 the SCEA exam is worth its money. Does it have the industry value, probably not, but it does give the student an exposure into the architecture side of the equation and thereby proves its value to the maturity of software engineering.
[ March 01, 2008: Message edited by: chris zielinski ]
jeff mutonho
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 30, 2003
Posts: 271
Originally posted by Billy Tsai:
unfortunately a lot of management people or PMs don't even know what the hell SCEA is about and they just ignore that certification you have.
Even some technical leaders with technical postgraduate degree from famous universities don't care about that certification either. So it makes me wonder maybe it is better just to spend 1-2 years obtaining a postgraduate research degree from good university instead of just pursuing the newest SCEA?

[ March 01, 2008: Message edited by: Billy Tsai ]


Billy , I respect your opinion and has elements of truth, but to make such sweeping and generalized statements is pushing it a bit . I think a lot depends on how a company "does" it's recruitment.By that I mean who gets involved in putting in place the minimum requirements a potential candidate needs to have.I certainly can tell you that in my few years of java development(i.e 2000 - current) , most of the companies I've worked for had the "preferably Sun certified" statement in their requirements. I honestly think it really depends on who gets involved in the recruitment process.
Nitin Gaur
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 06, 2003
Posts: 27
Interesting thread, here are my 2 cents...
To answer the question - Though I'm not certified yet but have opinion that certification are useful. But the degree of usefulness depends upon job profile. If you are on architect path(beginner or expert) it is useful no matter how much years of experience you have. Because it makes sense to feed right knowledge to brain for maximum benefit.
On the other hand I also agree with Jeff's opinion that technologies/versions keep changing and become obsolete soon. This forces a technologist to keep learning whats new. Earlier EJB/J2EE were hot, now it is lightweight frameworks, AJAX, SOA. After few years there will something else. You must learn latest HOT things in market to beat the 40 yrs factor which Jim mentioned rather than banking upon any certification.
Last year after studying few books including Head First Design Patterns, Martin Fowler UML, Mark Cade's SCEA to prepare for exam I felt that I have already covered most of these in my design experience so decided to skip the exam and rather focus to learn new stuff like JPA, web services.
So certification is useful if you're on right path but still not sufficient.


If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain.
Hong Anderson
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 05, 2005
Posts: 1936
Originally posted by Billy Tsai:
unfortunately a lot of management people or PMs don't even know what the hell SCEA is about and they just ignore that certification you have.
Even some technical leaders with technical postgraduate degree from famous universities don't care about that certification either. So it makes me wonder maybe it is better just to spend 1-2 years obtaining a postgraduate research degree from good university instead of just pursuing the newest SCEA?

Oh, how SCEA can compare to master degree?
If it can, I think many universities have a very serious problem .
Theodore Casser
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 14, 2001
Posts: 1902

Originally posted by Billy Tsai:
unfortunately a lot of management people or PMs don't even know what the hell SCEA is about and they just ignore that certification you have.
Even some technical leaders with technical postgraduate degree from famous universities don't care about that certification either. So it makes me wonder maybe it is better just to spend 1-2 years obtaining a postgraduate research degree from good university instead of just pursuing the newest SCEA?

It all depends, I would think, on your career track and other factors.
Personally, I don't put much stock in "technical postgraduate degrees from famous universities" - if you look at it in that light, depending on how long it's been since they were in college, their degrees are about as worthwhile as the paper they're printed on. What matters, after a given amount of time, is experience. The same goes for certifications.
Both a degree and a certification are just academic validations of experience, either through classroom work or through real-world professional life, and are going to be worth what someone else thinks they're worth.
If you can afford the one or two years to get that degree and are in a position where pursuing it is a viable option, then I say go for it if that's what your will drives you to. For the rest of us, who can't take that time from the business world and can't afford the additional outlay for the classes, certification is a more inexpensive, more viable option.
Abhisek Jana
Greenhorn

Joined: Jan 25, 2007
Posts: 14
1. After having 10 years of solid J2EE exposer, SCEA will only help you to brush-up the knowledge and it will be just a add-on to the resume.

2. After 10 years of exp, SCEA will not help you to get a better job, rather your experience will surely help.

3. If you are thinking of doing MS or SCEA after 10 years, then you should go for MS, after all SCEA is not a degree.

4. New version of Exams (SCEA 5), specially the upgrade exam will surely help you to get confidence on new technologies.

5. SCEA is like an ornament, which is showy and precious. It not only helps us to gain confidence on what we know but also helps us to get better opportunely and attract employers.

6. SCEA is not a mark to identify our knowledge.

7. Certifications are helpful in its own way all the time. I know many sun certified professional who are worse than college student.

8. If you have completed 10 yrs and confused on what exactly to do next in future probably GMAT\CAT is much better answer than SCEA.

probably i am the odd man out here as i just have 3.5 yrs of exp.I had started coding in 1996, when i was 13 yrs old kid. Only one i believe, Certification only shows the way, does not drive us. Its absolutely upto us whether to walk through that way or not.


Thanks,<br />Abhi<br />[SCJP,SCWCD,SCBCD,SCDJWS]
Hong Anderson
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 05, 2005
Posts: 1936
I agree with Theodore and Abhisek.

IMO, the real value of certification is in the moment before you take it, after that certification is a proof of that value, and the proof can be just a paper if we don't maintain our knowledge.
Narendra Dhande
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 04, 2004
Posts: 950
Hi,

Certifications for me are only for my own confidence building. I seems no value form me in terms of money and other professional achievements.

Technologies help to get the business goals and the selection of technologies are more depends on the customer choice and other existing system in the Enterprise. You can not stick up to the technologies you had learned or have mastery on it.

Thanks


Narendra Dhande
SCJP 1.4,SCWCD 1.4, SCBCD 5.0, SCDJWS 5.0, SCEA 5.0
Gabriel Claramunt
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 26, 2007
Posts: 375
One advantage I found on having the SCEA is that now I can say I'm a software architect without feeling like a charlatan.


Gabriel
Software Surgeon
Billy Tsai
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 23, 2003
Posts: 1297
well you have 10 years of professional experience you should move towards a technical leadership role like an architect if you are not interested in management.
Padma Prasad
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 16, 2002
Posts: 76
Thank you all for your thoughts and great inputs. I decided to take the certification. I already started preparing for the exam. Wish me good luck please.

Thanks,
Padma.
Flavio Oliva
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 11, 2006
Posts: 59
Originally posted by Padma Prasad:
Thank you all for your thoughts and great inputs. I decided to take the certification. I already started preparing for the exam. Wish me good luck please.

Thanks,
Padma.


Good luck my friend!! you can make it!!!

Flavio Oliva


I work with the following technologies: Webwork 2.2, Xwork, iReport 0.5.2 Jasper Reports 1.1.0, JSP 2.0, CSS, Java Script, Hibernate 3.0.5, MySQL 4.1.7, Eclipse 3.1, Tomcat 5.5.9, JBoss 4.0.2. Any Doubt? ask me, denon82@msn.com
Chris Be
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 11, 2006
Posts: 36
2Cents:

I personally appreciated the value of the certification once I had obtained it, or worked with certified professionals.

Whether someone else does so too depends on whether they have it, or their experience with certified people.

For me it was often an eye opener, and I'd ++ someone with a certification over one without. Just refer to some basic certification topics (e.g. patterns, OO principles, OO concepts) in an interview. You might be surprised how little of it an uncertified "OO expert" knows his/her theory behind the daily practice.

Nevertheless, no certification is a substitute for real-life experience.


ChrisBe<br />-------<br />SCJP, SCJD, SCEA in the making
Anderson Fonseca
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 05, 2004
Posts: 126
SCEA Certification clarify you about Java Enterprise Edition technologies, but architecture concepts go beyond SUN, Microsoft, IBM and other players in the market. I think, a certification can help you be hired, but it don't give warranties how long you will be there.

Don't matter how long you have an IT area, but your experience to solve conflicts, capturing client's neededs and transforming to technical requirements, keeping a common vocabulary among participants, and give they a product what they waiting, attending your whishes and expects.


Anderson Fonseca :: Brazil<br />SCJA 1.0, SCJP 1.4, SCWCD 1.4, SCBCD 1.3, SCDJWS, SCEA(I), SCEA 5 (I,II,III)
William Telman
Greenhorn

Joined: Mar 28, 2008
Posts: 17
Who here landed an architect position after getting the certification?
 
With a little knowledge, a cast iron skillet is non-stick and lasts a lifetime.
 
subject: How effective is it having SCEA certification for a 10 yr experienced java pro?