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Certification without experience : any good ??

Vikrant Pandit
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 27, 2006
Posts: 245
Hi ranchers,

I have seen many posts on this forum where people ask whether they should go for SCWCD certification when they do not have any real experience in JSP/Servlet Technology. I want to start a debate whether certification without any real experience adds any value to us ?

I believe that certification should be used as a tool to benchmark the quality of work experience that one has got while working in real life projects. It should be used to "enhance" one's knowledge of the technology and not as a introduction to it.

There is no substitute for real life experience . Clearing a certification might give a false impression to the candidate that he has mastered the technology.

Your comments are welcome ......


Vikrant Pandit
wise owen
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 02, 2006
Posts: 2023
Agree!
Charles Lyons
Author
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 27, 2003
Posts: 836
I whole-heartedly agree... certification should be the 'icing on the cake', so to speak. Certification shows you know the theory well enough to be able to apply in practise, but in reality the certificate isn't worth the paper it's printed on if the candidate then can't use that knowledge in a working environment. Much the same is true of university graduates: as an employer, would you rather take the developer who's had 5+ years experience and worked on countless projects, or the programmer fresh out of university who's only just started working with J2EE?

Plus, the certifications become much easier if you actually have had practical experience and know the potential pitfalls first-hand. An employer is much more likely to value your experience, ideas and design input to a project than your ability to learn the specs and API. After all, while working on the job you have all the API documents and specs at hand, and normally also have an IDE which to a large extent can do debugging for you.

Now, having said that, I do believe the exams give a good goal to work towards. They have clear objectives of all the key technologies (ignoring all the bits in the specifications no-one ever uses), and which set out the learning outcomes and make the learning process straightforward. So doing a certification before having experience can be a good way to force yourself to learn the material and get to grips with the basic theory. But, if that is to be meaningful, it should always be followed up with real hands-on experience. After all, you can't do the practical without the theory, but at the same time the theory is useless if you can't put it into practise!

In summary: the certification is useful as a chance to consolidate and prove what you know, or as a tool in getting started, but in either case experience is much more valuable.


Charles Lyons (SCJP 1.4, April 2003; SCJP 5, Dec 2006; SCWCD 1.4b, April 2004)
Author of OCEJWCD Study Companion for Oracle Exam 1Z0-899 (ISBN 0955160340 / Amazon Amazon UK )
Salvador Cecilio
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 20, 2004
Posts: 41
The SCWCD is a lot more valuable if you have web experience. Not so much if you don't.


SCJP 1.4 - 93%
SCWCD 1.4 - 89%
IBM FileNet 3.5 - Developer
IBM FileNet 3.5 - Administrator
Niranjan Deshpande
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 16, 2005
Posts: 1277
hi vivek. i fully agree with what u said -

"I believe that certification should be used as a tool to benchmark the quality of work experience that one has got while working in real life projects. It should be used to "enhance" one's knowledge of the technology and not as a introduction to it"

hi charles. ifully agree with what you said -

"An employer is much more likely to value your experience, ideas and design input to a project than your ability to learn the specs and API"

"doing a certification before having experience can be a good way to force yourself to learn the material and get to grips with the basic theory. But, if that is to be meaningful, it should always be followed up with real hands-on experience. After all, you can't do the practical without the theory, but at the same time the theory is useless if you can't put it into
practise! "

"In summary: the certification is useful as a chance to consolidate and prove what you know, or as a tool in getting started,but in either case experience is much more valuable"

things that i would like to add on -

i m a fresher of the year 2005. currently working on j2ee (struts). i did my scjp1.4 before joining the organisation. what i would like to say is that once you are on JOB, it becomes a bit harder to SIT and STUDY, u can sneak time only on the weekends. but it definitely adds your profile (at the time of appraisal in the job). i would also like to say that certification geives u solid KNOWING, but if u want to be good @ DOING, you should equivalently strive harder to LEARN THINGS @ the job. typically, you need to learn the BARE MINIMUM things and APPLY them. these things u forget SOON. so the "custom tag" that i learnt yesterday while modifying a jsp, i bound to get out of the memory the very next day. to avoid this we need CERTIFICATION. also, certification makes you STAND OUT from the crowd. it improves your profile "ON THE PAPER" ( resume ). its like a STAR in from of youer name. it shows that you are SINCERE enough to spare time @ the weekends to sit and study (rather than indulge urself in ALCHOHOL). it shows that you still njoi the company of books, pens and table and chair. it shows that u want to be a LEARNER.

thats all from my side. i m currently preparing for WCD. to be frank, being a fresher, i contribute pretty less on the job, but i m confident that someday i will...!! i just finishd HFSJ chapter 6.

u can mail me @ niranjan_8712@yahoo.com

regards,
niranjan


SCJP 1.4 - 95% [ My Story ] - SCWCD 1.4 - 91% [ My Story ]
Performance is a compulsion, not a option, if my existence is to be justified.
achayya matta
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 27, 2005
Posts: 111
hey NIRANJAN,

I agree with you dude.
Rodrigo Alvarez
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 10, 2006
Posts: 75
Hi all,

I agree that experience is far more valuable than a certification, but this makes me come to the opposite conclusion than most of you : I think certifications, at least basic ones like SCJP or SCWCD, have more value when you are *not* experienced.

I passed the SCJP before applying for my first java developper job, this way I could tell a potential employer "I may have no real experience, but at least I've got this paper prooving you that I know at least the basics". Now that I have a little more than one year successful experience, I think that this experience will be much more helpful that the SCJP itself when I'll look for my next job.

Same reasonning for SCWCD. I'm currently a "simple POJO" developer and I'd like to enter the J2EE world. Passing the SCWCD will enable me to tell a potential employer "I may have no experience in J2EE, but at least I have some in Java and I've got this paper prooving you that I know at least the basics of Java web tier".

Studying for a certif is also very helpful to beginners like me for fixing learning objectives when one does not know the context (although I find the exams' objectives too strict on some points: what's the use of remembering the exact signatures of methods? All modern IDE tells me that in real time).

Moreover, I find that most certification study books are especially targeted at beginners, not experienced developers. HFSJ is a good example: it was very useful when I knew nothing in that field, but now that I know a little more I find it much easier to find exact information in the specs than in the HFSJ (I know, the HFSJ clearly states it's not a reference book, this is just a comment, not a complain).

Finally, I agree with Niranjan: certifications are also a good way to prove motivation, whathever your current level is. Passing a certif shows that you are ready to invest time, and generally money, to stay up to date.
[ June 05, 2006: Message edited by: Rodrigo Alvarez ]

It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.<br />--Douglas Adams
Marc Peabody
pie sneak
Sheriff

Joined: Feb 05, 2003
Posts: 4727

Originally posted by Vivek Pandey:
There is no substitute for real life experience . Clearing a certification might give a false impression to the candidate that he has mastered the technology.

"Real life experience" could also give a false impression of mastering a technology. 10 years of bad experience still looks more impressive than 3 years of great experience when both are placed on a resume.

Every cert I've ever taken I took (the first time) without any previous professional experience in the technology. Did it add to my value? Absolutely! My knowledge acquired through certification studies has saved me countless debugging hours.

I think of my studies and experience as Shu Ha Ri, where my cert studies were/are Shu. I'm getting my upgrades for SCJP and SCWCD very soon because I believe I should return to learning the foundational basics of what I do each day at work.

You say you believe the ideal value for certification is to recognize proficiency that is gained through professional experience. And that is likely the original intention of IT certifications. But only the knowledge can be tested. Since the certifications can only cover Shu, why should professional experience be necessary? In martial arts, would it make sense to only award belts to those who fight outside the dojo?


A good workman is known by his tools.
Marx Villegas
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 10, 2006
Posts: 94
Rodrigo,
I'm happy to hear comments like yours. I'm a .NET developer and me and my wife are moving to Madrid (where java technologies are almost everywhere while .NET aren't) in a couple of months. So since February, I've taken the SCJA and the SCJP, and I'm also taking the SCWCD next monday and planning to take the SCBCD before September. My idea is to restart my programming career in java, and I can't think of a better way to do it than taking the certification exams.
I know that the exams cannot replace experience, but having the certifications is better than nothing, and to be honest, I'm starting to feel like a potential java expert, and to feel I'm not being a java "Pojo" anymore (A "Pollo", read as "Pojo", is a little chicken in its yellowest state).
Adios amigos!
XM


When the compiler's not happy, ain't nobody happy...
Santosh Babu
Greenhorn

Joined: Jun 06, 2006
Posts: 8
Experience is good. And it is very important.
But experience is not everything. It is not under our control.
We cannot learn what we want. If we code the same "if statement" every day how can experience help us.
The alternative is to change jobs/organization. What if the new job has the same environment?

The process of acquiring knowledge and practical experience should be organization-independent.
vikram sinhg
Greenhorn

Joined: Jun 03, 2006
Posts: 18
I AM FRESHER AND GOING TO TAKE CERTIFICATION PATH AT LEAST SCJP,jd,wcd.
Michael Valentino
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 01, 2005
Posts: 96
I agree with so many points posted here. Too many to list in a single bulletin. So let me paraphrase my take on this topic:

As with anything in life, all theory and no hands-on is a bad combination. You begin to see yourself as an expert in something you have no experience in... bad bad bad.

I truely believe the certification, in and of itself, is worthless. BUT the certification plus experience is priceless. I can't tell you how many software engineers I've met that tell me "Oh yeah, I've done J2EE. about 2 years now" and either a) assume they can do it because they just read a book or b) can program J2EE, but do it poorly. The value of the certification comes in when you have experience in a particular field on top of that certification. It says to employers "Yes, I've done this before. And yes, I'm certified in that technology and can perform to your expectations." rather than "Yeah as you can see I've done this before... but can you guess how good I am at it?"
I've been on countless interviews where the employer first observed my work experience and how it related to the job. THEN they proceeded to ask more in depth questions... one company I beleive took some of their questions right from these ceritification mock exams. As soon as I heard it, I knew I was in familiar territory

So in summary, I'm with all of you. I recommend certification in something you are working with, or will be working with shortly. I do NOT recommend a certification as a "resume builer" only, because employers can smell the difference between book-smarts and application-smarts right away.

*edit*P.S. I just want to add that "Indulging yourself in alcohol" can have it's benefits from time to time
[ June 06, 2006: Message edited by: Michael Valentino ]

SCJP 1.4, SCWCD J2EE 1.4, SCJD J2SE 1.5, SCBCD J2EE 1.3, SCDJWS (In Progress)
Marx Villegas
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 10, 2006
Posts: 94
I don't think that certification without experience is totally worthless. I've been programming in a number of languages since I was 11, I'm 25 now, and in the last 5 years I've been very much into C++ and C# + VB.NET.
I know I'm no java expert (I said I saw myself as a POTENTIAL java expert, so, don't get me wrong, please read again my last post) but I know I can be one by summing experience to my theoretical java knowledge, which has been actually proven by the certification exam results.
I mean, if I am certified, then I must know something, don't you guys think?
XM

[ June 06, 2006: Message edited by: Marx Villegas ]
[ June 06, 2006: Message edited by: Marx Villegas ]
Niranjan Deshpande
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 16, 2005
Posts: 1277
Hey Miachel Valentino,

book-smarts and application-smarts right away
well said man�.!!! These r the perfect words that you have put in, while taking part in the debate !! just fabulous !!!

book-smart 

people who know how to define the SCOPE of a exam, how to work
towards it, and in the end clear it with flying colors
BUT - there is a high hance that these people get a big SHOCK
When they are put onto a real-life IT project, this is purely out of the
act that their approach is more of a ACADEMIC, rather than APPLICATION ( �ACTUALLY� applying what you learnt) type

application-smarts 

the people who pick up the BARE MINIMUM technology, deliver the solutions @ the end of the day, but if som1 asks them �Hey dude, how to write this custom tag / EL expression ?�, it a high chance that they say �Hey, don�t bother me, I wrote it that day, I don�t remember it�it was that day that I was supposed to write it�and I wrote it�that�s it..!! they are very much �DO IT..move on� type.

Both the above approaches are example of being EXTREMITIES, and they can land yourself in bad situations. The bad situations are �

For the 1st category ->

very nice fact/figures on the paper, but bad @ DOING

For the 2nd category ->

Even if they appear for the exam, they study lazily, and score just PASSING marks in the exam, turning them BAD ON PAPER (resume )

So what do we need is a GOLDEN MEAN� a perfet BLEND.

This is what I m targeting on. I m in a transition phase from category 1 � category 2�.and belive me it�s a KICKING experience !! but with time, I want to position myself exactly @ a midpoint ( i.e good @ the EXAMS and also good @ the JOB ) of the two categories !!

And yes Miachel, your statement -

�just want to add that "Indulging yourself in alcohol" can have it's benefits from time to time��

I agree with it�!!! I too indulged in alchohol when I get my JOB�!! 

So to summarize the debate�.i would I like to say

GO FOR A GOLDEN MEANS�i.e a BALANCE between KNOWIN ( studying and passing the exam) and DOING !!!

Thanks a lot to vivek pandey, who kicked off such a wonderful debate. Hope that its high time we close this thread, coz, everything has been said. Still the debate I open to the floor !!!

Thanks all !!
Balaji Londhe
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 02, 2006
Posts: 100
I am agree with lotz of things here & also disagree with some of the things..
What I think is Certification gives us a level of perfection which a experienced developer without certification rarely can have.
If we observe lotz of experienced developers are not clear with concepts of the java/j2ee technology & They are just doing there work with trial & error method which takes much development time. On the other hand if the developer is certified one he can save the development time.

There is not much value to certification(ie it will show a false impression definitely), if one dont take experience.

Crux of theory is we shouldn't compare with experienced developer & certified developer. But when one get both of these, he can reach a perfection for what certification is designed for, I think.


Attitude matters the Altitude.
Christophe Verré
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 24, 2005
Posts: 14687
    
  16

I'm wondering about those who have no experience, pass the certification and say: I've studied 10 days and passed.
Especially the following scenario, already seen at the ranch :
Mr A has passed SCJP, and is studying for SCWCD now.
He has a problem compiling and posts a question.
Finally, his problem is only a CLASSPATH not set properly, thing that he should already figure out himself, having passed the SCJP.

I don't fully agree though that certification without experience is useless.
There are some people who study hard, get a good score, and definitely know their stuff.
They'll need less time to get used to a real work situation than those who don't have the cert.

A coworker at my company has been working on java for a year now, and he didn't know about the equals() method.
I wouldn't have to waste my time on that with a person who's got the certification.


[My Blog]
All roads lead to JavaRanch
Varun Narang
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 19, 2004
Posts: 30
Certification vs. Experience:
Even though, I completed my SCJP certification when I was fresher, I strongly disbelieves in the idea that certification can ever be an alternative to the hands-on experience. These both are separate things and can't be compared. In case of certifications, this is just another way of saying that you know the things when you are being interviewed. But, doesn't say that you can solve the real word problems instantly and you can design the solutions for production systems. What I have concluded so far from my experience that:
--> Certification makes you familiar with the technology,
--> But, experience tells you BEST PRACTISES, and optimal solutions for real word and production system problems.
So, both are good in their own place.


Your computer system is like AC, it's of no use when you open Windows ;)
Dilshan Edirisuriya
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 22, 2006
Posts: 299
Experience is essential but how can you get experience without knowing the subject?
you may but it'll take long time. But person who has certification will catchup those thing with less effort and less time.
So I think it's good to parctice those things while learning


Dilshan Edirisuriya SCJP1.4, SCWCD1.4, SCBCD 5
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://aspose.com/file-tools
 
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