I am the lead developer for a small development team. Over the past year or so we have been slowly learning java and using it on a few small projects. We plan on using it for our primary development language for most future projects. I have been considering tying the java certification levels to employee performance and bonuses. For instance, I have been thinking about giving an x% for each java certification level passed.
But before I do this I would appreciate anyone's thoughts or experiences with the certification process. Some of these questions may be covered a bit in the FAQs, but I am looking for some more feedback. Below are a few questions I have. Please comment on any of them:
1. Does the certification exam really test a programmer's "chops"? In other words, with some certifications or exams people can just memorize answers by rote and pass the test but still not really understand the core concepts. How easy would it be for someone to "fake" thier way through and exam?
2. How fast can an average programmer process through the associate, programmer and developer certifications? I was thinking about one level per year. Is this about right or am I expecting too much or little?
3. What about class room training? Obviously if the certification is worth anything, you shouldn't really be able to easily pass if you have not been through some real world projects, but is formal classroom training helpful as well? I know that Sun offers some courses. Are these worth the money and time? How effective are the online courses or the CDs?
4. Right now I am most interested in the assiciate, programmer, and developer certification's but are there other certifications worth looking at? i.e. the web certification.
I think it is worth doing, I'm not sure if I would learn it to such details if I had to work on some project as soon as possible. I guess, I would just learn a few things I need at that moment and ignore the rest. (And of course, learn from compiler errors)
1. I believe the exam is not just to see how good you are in syntax. There is lot of code you need to read on exam, so to just learn answers is not so easy. Of corse there are some common problems you can prepare for, but each questions was unique to me. Try some (free) mock exams, inquisition or any other GUI, so you can get the feeling of real exam.
2. associate - I'm not sure what is this about, perhaps Java for managment, some basic overview. Programmer - Took me 2 months from 0 to 94%, but I really put a lot of my free time to it. Sun recommeds 6 months of preparation. I have few years experience in C++, so I guess I'm quite average. Developer - well, you can find some topics at SCJD forum, where it is common to spend year or two on SCJD. SCBCD and SCWCD - I guess, that it should be possible in 6-12 months.
3. Depends on how you would like to prepare. I used K&B book. I think real world projects are not required to pass SCJA or SCJP. But it surely helps for SCJD and others.
4. It depends on project you plan to develop.
I (as employee) am considering just opportunity to do certification as bonus. And motivation is also that, noone wants to fail. (If my colleage can pass, I can surely too). You as "employer" and team leader will have information, that your developers have certain level of knowlegde, and it also may have good impression on customer if you present your company as team, that has "as much" certifications, so that perhaps know what they are doing.
(Looks like I should work for Sun bussiness depart.)