I am new to this forum. I am a C systems programmer(3yrs exp) considering a career shift to Java. I had done Java programming a couple of yrs back (4yrs back in school and as an intern back then). I am trying to refresh my memory by going through some books advised on this forum (McKenzie, Head first etc).
My question is: Considering my background is it advisable for me to go for SCJA/SCJP certification? Which one is better suited?
I think one of the things you are going to tend to see is people who got their certifications before the SCJA certification come out promoting the value of the original entry level exam - the SCJP; but that's not the entry level certification exam from Sun anymore - the SCJA exam is.
There was a very definite reason that Sun came out with the SCJA exam, and it was to address the sizeable gap between the well rounded knowledge entry level people absolutely must have if they want to be successful in Java, as compared to the very foucusses and at times, esoteric knowledge people need to have about things like RegEx and Thread in order to pass the SCJP exam.
The SCJP exam will motivate you to study the intricate details about syntax, but it will give you nothing about JSPs, EJBs, Micro devices, JMS, JNDI, Servlets, and all the other technologies you absolutely need to know about in order to pass an entry level interview about Java technology, and really understand how to work on a well architected, multi-tier solution. Furthermore, you do need to know the foundations of Java syntax to pass SCJA, along with needed to know a good deal about UML and good object oriented design.
As I said, there is a very definite reason that the SCJA is the new entry level Java certification from Sun, and it has to do with the fact that it requires skills and knowledge that are essential for a developer to be productive when on an enterprise development project.
It's really up to you what your direction is. Regardless, I always think an extra certification looks great on a resume.