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Writer on deadline seeks certified peo. for Sun article on Java Cert.

Tara Roussel

Joined: Mar 14, 2004
Posts: 6
Congratulations to all those who recently received certification from any of the Sun Java Certification Programs.
I am a freelance writer, currently working on an article for Sun Microsystems on the value of Java Certification programs. I had an interview with Kathy Sierra (a Javaranch founder) last week and she invited me to pop into the Saloon to solicit some quotes from some people taking and hopefully benefitting from Sun Java Certification.
Would you like to have a chance to be in the article? If you want to check me out I have several articles posted on different Sun sites (not always under my name) -- here's one with a byline -- it's about the Java Verification Program and went up last month:
Here's the catch: I'm writing the article right now for a deadline tomorrow. I'd just like to ask about your experience taking the test and what you hope this certification, or any others, will do for you professionally.
So what do you say, help me out?
Thanks in advance for your help,
Tara Roussel
Corey McGlone
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 20, 2001
Posts: 3271
Well, in case it's not already too late, here's my take on Sun's Java Certification, the programmer certification, specifically.
I became SCJP certfied in early 2002, in Java 1.2 - the 1.4 exam had not yet been released at that point. At that time, I was already programming in Java professionally and had been for some time.
What has the certification done for me professionally? Well, that depends. If you're referring to the little piece of paper that says I'm certified, it has done little to nothing for me. I've got it on my resume and most employers just don't care that it's there. In my opinion, I agree with the employers - being SCJP certified, in my mind, does not make you a valuable asset.
I've been moderating this forum for a couple years now and I can tell you what I've seen over that timeframe. I see a lot of people that expect to become SCJP certified and suddenly find that they're excellent programmers and highly sought after in the job market. My experience shows that this just isn't the case. Take this example:

Just because you can understand that line of code, you're not necessarily a good programmer. In fact, I'll bet a "good" programmer would never write such a horrible line of code.
The SCJP exam tests your knowledge of the intricacies of the Java programming language and it does so by throwing a lot of convoluted and contrived questions at you. These questions are worked out to test specific knowledge points and, when it comes to that, they do an excellent job. However, more often than not, I would say that the questions you see on an SCJP exam display what not to do when programming, rather than what to do.
In my opinion, anyone can become SCJP certified - they don't even necessarily need to be a programmer. The entire SCJP exam can be passed by simply memorizing answers. Granted, it's a lot of memorization, but it's still memorization. There is no point at which you need to apply knowledge to solve some new problem. It's in that field (applying your knowledge) that I think you really define yourself as a Java developer, not by passing the SCJP exam.
You may be asking why I'm bashing the SCJP exam so badly - keep in mind that I am also SCJP certified. In short, I'm not. I think the SCJP exam is an excellent thing and I'm glad I became certified. I was already a competent Java programmer when I began my certification study and the deeper study only helped enhance my skills as a programmer. What I am getting at is the misconception that I see every day that becoming SCJP certified will make you a great asset to any company or make you a great programmer. It just won't.
If that's what you're after - to be more "marketable" in the job market, I think you need to look beyond the SCJP certification. I think you need to see the SCJP exam as the beginning, not the end - as a launching pad, if you will.
If I were to look at someone's resume and saw that the person was SCJP certified, I might note it, but not give it much thought. I'd be much more interested in the person's previous development experience - without that, the SCJP is worthless. However, if that person were to have gone forward and completed the Developer's Certification (SCJD), I would definitely find that person to be more marketable.
In my opinion, the SCJD certification shows your ability to apply your knowledge to solve some problem. It's not just memorization - it's actual application of knowledge. Certainly, it's still done in a controlled environment and is no replacement for real-world experience, but it shows an understanding of a broader range of knowledge and the ability to apply that knowledge to a real problem.
I'm sure I'm being much more long-winded that you need and perhaps I'm just venting a little from what I've seen on these forums over the last couple years, but I hope you can follow my opinions. I think the SCJP is a great thing, but I think it's poorly conceived by many folks out there. Of course, the problem is that, if you're not a programmer, you see the SCJP as your ticket to becoming one. If you're already a developer, you realize that this is simply not the case.
Maybe that helps your article, maybe it doesn't. Either way, I feel a little better.

SCJP Tipline, etc.
Tara Roussel

Joined: Mar 14, 2004
Posts: 6
Corey, no it's not too late and thank you very much for your wonderfully written comments. I am very appreciative.
One question: What is your title? I'd like to refer to you in the article as Corey McGlone, [title] for [name of company] Inc.
Again, thank you for adding your perception to this article, it will make this a better story.
fred rosenberger
lowercase baba

Joined: Oct 02, 2003
Posts: 11955

Here are my thoughts, for whatever it's worth.
i had been working as a developer for 4 years for the same company, doing C/C++ work. On my own time, at my own expense, i took classes to get certified. i passed in May of last year (2003). I was the only Java certified programmer in a staff of about 30-40 developers in 3 offices (there is now, to my knowledge, one other).
I was given no java work for about 6 months after that. I now bounce back and forth, depending on what's needed.
I am glad i took the test, as i now understand some of the things i didn't before. however, i also go back and re-read java intro books (right now i'm reading "head first java" by Kathy Sierra and Bert Bates). They area also helping me understand some of the things i had memorized for the test.
I'm glad I took the test, don't get me wrong. but passing the test does not make you a good programmer. Just like writing, if i can spell well, and know that a good sentence is Noun - Verb - Object, that doesn't mean i can write like Hemmingway [or even spell his name ].
to do that i need tools like metaphors and plot and character development - things you learn over time by practicing, being critiqued, and reading other novels/code samples.

There are only two hard things in computer science: cache invalidation, naming things, and off-by-one errors
Corey McGlone
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 20, 2001
Posts: 3271
Originally posted by Tara Roussel:
One question: What is your title? I'd like to refer to you in the article as Corey McGlone, [title] for [name of company] Inc.

I am a Software Engineer at Relion Corporation (
Jessica Sant

Joined: Oct 17, 2001
Posts: 4313

I'd just like to ask about your experience taking the test and what you hope this certification, or any others, will do for you professionally.

For me, taking the test wasn't as much of an experience as studying for it. I learned a lot of the nuances of the Java language that I hadn't realized or didn't understand before I began my quest for the SCJP. I became a better programmer because I didn't have to look things up as often. I could understand the cause of different compiler errors better so I could start the real debugging sooner.
Java Certification is all what you make of it. Unlike a Microsoft (MCSE, MCSA) or Cisco (CCNA) certification, being a Sun Certified Programmer of Java is rarely a job requirement. And particularly in today's economy, getting your Java certification won't warrant getting a raise. But I think in the long run -- studying (and hopefully passing) your certification will make you a better programmer and thus you'll eventually deserve a raise.
I think some people take the exam for the wrong reasons. They think if they burn through the exam and pass with whatever percentage, and they have that on their resume along with a dozen other certifications it will make their resume shine compared to Joe Schmoe who only has one. I would hope that recruiters and hiring managers are smart enough to realize that a certification is really only worth the paper its printed on. What matters is what someone took away from the exam, what they really learned from it. And that should shine through their experience and other accomplishments.
btw -- if you'd like to use any of the above, I'm a Software Engineer for Hewlett-Packard.
[ March 15, 2004: Message edited by: Jessica Sant ]

- Jess
Blog:KnitClimbJava | Twitter: jsant | Ravelry: wingedsheep
La Vish
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 17, 2002
Posts: 161
I took and passed SCJP last year .I decided to take it because there was no one in our organisation who had done it before.After I passed it my standing in the company increased a notch and I survived two big redundancies!(I knew about this redundancy and hence decided to increase my value by taking this exam and it sure helped!)
The experience of studying for the exam gave me more satisfaction than actually getting the certificate. I am a trainer and I have now more confidence dealing with C,C++,VB,Cobol,Php etc.In fact just by participating in this forum itself gave me more knowledge and confidence than if I had attempted to study on my own.

La Vish
SCJP 1.4, President 60s Club
Reginald Law

Joined: Jan 21, 2004
Posts: 19
It has made a big difference for me. Many places would not believe that I worked on Java and thought it on my own until I got the certification. Many places would not even interview me. For folks who have alot of C++ experience I recommend that you get the certification to get a java job.
I have found certification to carry more weight than a college degree or job experience. This just happened in the past 3 years.
It is the same with redhat and cisco certifications in the dc/baltmore area. Apparently many of the government agencies/contractors are requiring certification to get contracts.

SCJP 1.4
Bharat Ruparel
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 30, 2003
Posts: 493
Your question cuts across all the certifications, not just the Programmer's certification. I have completed the SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD certificates and am working on completing SCEA (Part I done). I think that you want to show both a continuity in the certication studies and your quest to become a better professional. Rest of things work themselves out.

I agree. Here's the link:
subject: Writer on deadline seeks certified peo. for Sun article on Java Cert.
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