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Please convince me about Certification

Pete Pan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 14, 2001
Posts: 44
Anyone who has read my previous posts knows that I feel that certifications are BAD. So I would like someone to tell me what is wrong with my logic (and I am not doing this to start some kind of flame war. I just want to know why people are so Certification orieneted):
Most people agree that experience is better than certification
Most people agree that anyone with good experience should have no trouble passing the Certification exam.
So then the main reason to take the Certification exam is to prove that I know the language even though I do not have the experience, because if I had the experience people would already know that I know the language (BTW, no good company is going to skip the technical interview just because you are certified)
So when I see someone who is certified I realize that they took the certification exam to compensate for their lack of experience. Going back to the beggining, since experience is better then the certification, people without it are better than people without it (except for the most junior jobs that do not require expereience)
Want's wrong with this "logic"?
Travis Gibson
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 17, 2000
Posts: 100
Peter,
Here's my take on Sun Certification. First off the test is somewhat difficult. It is used to show that you at least understand the core syntax and logic of Java itself.
I have heard of guys with several years of experience failing the test because it requires you to learn many of the JFC(with constructors) to memory. In the real world if you have question about an class you can just review the API specs, but it is somewhat challenging.
If you already have 2+ years of development experience then it definately complements your resume. If you have "NO" real world experience it can be the difference between a return phone call and/or telephone interview and your resume going right in the trash can.
For me it really helped me because I am from a mainframe background(COBOL/CICS/JCL/DB2) and I finally transitioned into a Java Developer just recently.

My two cents,
Travis M. Gibson, SCJP www.travismgibson.com
travis@travismgibson.com

Regards,<BR>Travis M. Gibson, SCJP<BR>Java Developer<BR>www.travismgibson.com<BR>travis@travismgibson.com
Jason Menard
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
Being Java certied shouldn't just be thought of as a means to get a job. I am a Java developer, and the company I work for is encouraging it's developers to seek certification.
The company I work for contracts itself out. Having a pool of developers with Java certification looks good in the eyes of the customer. It is important to note that the customer often has the final say as to whether or not a developer is brought on board a project. Often a resume review and even sometimes an interview is required by the customer before my company can assign any particular developer to a project.
A company must sell its develpopers to the customer. It is a good thing if my company can go to the customer and show them that we have experienced, educated, and certified developers. Certification is particularly helpful in the case of someone like myself who hasn't yet completed his CS degree (of course I don't have my certification either, but my experience has been pulling me through). So basically, anything a company, particularly one that contracts out it's services, can do to enahnce the status of its developers in the eyes of the customers is considered beneficial.
On a more mercenary note, many companies will give a bonus or additional salary review to an employee for completing certification.
J
Pete Pan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 14, 2001
Posts: 44
So you have no (or not much expereince) and it will help you. Just thinks it hurts experienced programmers. If someone went to Brainbench and got certifired in AOL 5.0 and put that on their resume, would you think more or less of him?

Originally posted by Jason Menard:
Being Java certied shouldn't just be thought of as a means to get a job. I am a Java developer, and the company I work for is encouraging it's developers to seek certification.
The company I work for contracts itself out. Having a pool of developers with Java certification looks good in the eyes of the customer. It is important to note that the customer often has the final say as to whether or not a developer is brought on board a project. Often a resume review and even sometimes an interview is required by the customer before my company can assign any particular developer to a project.
A company must sell its develpopers to the customer. It is a good thing if my company can go to the customer and show them that we have experienced, educated, and certified developers. Certification is particularly helpful in the case of someone like myself who hasn't yet completed his CS degree (of course I don't have my certification either, but my experience has been pulling me through). So basically, anything a company, particularly one that contracts out it's services, can do to enahnce the status of its developers in the eyes of the customers is considered beneficial.
On a more mercenary note, many companies will give a bonus or additional salary review to an employee for completing certification.
J

Pete Pan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 14, 2001
Posts: 44
Hey it is Pete for obvious reasons :>
Originally posted by Travis Gibson:
Peter,

Jason Menard
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
Pete,
You totaly miss the point. Or you just chose to ignore everything that didn't fit your prestated perception. I am saying that EXPERIENCED developers are the ones being pushed to get their certifications on top of their degrees. For example the individual in charge of all the developers for my company is pushing ALL the developers to get certified, including those who already have their MS. I have spoken with people in other companies and they are experienceing the same push for certification. And also (since I thought this was obvious I didn't state it before), the type of certification and who backs it is important. Nobody in industry cares about Brainbench, however Sun does carry some weight. But then I'm sure you knew that.
Despite your insulting inference that no BS and no Certification equals no experience, three+ years of web application development experience in Perl, Java, and Oracle, and 3/4's of a CS degree (still in progress) have been enough for me to get by, and be successful.


However what you really seem to be is a troll, and you are not really looking for any reasons which might disagree with your apparently unwavering opinions. But it's my mistake for falling for it.
J

[This message has been edited by Jason Menard (edited March 22, 2001).]
Pete Pan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 14, 2001
Posts: 44
I do not miss the your point, just do not agree with what you say.
You need the certification to make up for not having you degree yet (and I hope you still are working on it because in this market companies are just tossing away resumes without degrees [I am not saying they are right, but it is happening]). I think the degree is much much much more important.
The only companies that I see that are pushing certifications on their employees are consulting firms (Don't know what that means). A quick search of headhunter finds very few companies even mentioning certification anymore.
I too think brainbench is a bunch of crap. But who is to decide who is and who isn't (can't really argue with the fact the Sun probably is a good java "certifier", but do they have the right to certify people in C++ or AOL). How much is a cert work in "years of experience". Who would look better, a certified person with 1 year experience or an uncertified with 2 years (or 3 years, or four years). Just do not see the worth of it.
Jason Menard
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
And the other group pushing certification on its experienced employees is government contractors. The point I believe is to try to give the appearance that your company can provide a better service (hopefully at a better price) than your competitor. One of the ways a contractor may go about this is by encouraging the developers to seek certification. A contractor is always seeking any edge it can over its competition.
All other things being equal, if one contractor can say that the developers he is able to provide to a contract include 4 Sun Certified Java Developers, and a couple Sun Certified Java Architects, evn though both contractors can otherwise provide developers of similar experience and ability, who do you think stands a better chance of being awarded the contract? Naturally many factors go into the awarding of contracts, but every little bit helps.
I too feel the degree is much more important than any certification. And experience will always be more important than certification as well. Now in government contracting, depending on which area of the government, there are reasons where a degree may not be the most important consideration in hiring an employee.
Who decides which certifications are worthwhile? The industry as a whole does. There seems to be a general movement towards getting the degreed, experienced employees certified as well, at least in the major industry recognized certifications (Sun Java, Oracle, Novell, etc...). The only reason I can think of for this push is the reasons I have already stated, which is basically to sell your company's developers to a customer.
Now for someone coming off the street looking for a job, I don't think a certification alone is worth much. It still comes down to experience and education. A certification on top of everything else may however place the potential employee a little bit ahead of someone else seeking the same position. I also don't think you can say a certification is worth x years experience. You MAY be able to say a certification is worth a certain amount of education.
Another group of people certification is good for is former military personnel who have been working as programmers or network people for several years, but who may not have been afforded the opportunity to attain a degree. They have received much technical education, probably often on par with the amount you would get if you went to College (minus the general ed, non-degree related stuff designed to make you more well-rounded and worldly, but imho the person serving in the military for several years is the far superior job candidate than someone fresh out of school with his 4yr degree). And although these people may not have had the opportunity to pursue a degree to any length, they may have been sent for certification. So when they are seeking employment, they can point to their resume and show that for example they have worked for 8 years as a networking professional, have familiarity with x different networking systems, have received x amount of schooling and other training from government schools, and have also earned x certifications. This person will get the job over the guy with the new degree probably nine times out of ten.
My point I guess would be that in many cases, the benefits of certification may be negligable. But this does not mean that this is true in all cases. Different areas of the business have different requirements as far as education and experience goes, and I just think that more and more certification is figuring into the equation.

Pete Pan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 14, 2001
Posts: 44
I agree with you on most parts, except for the government stuff. I guess it could mean something, but look how most governement projects turn out. It reminds me of when companies were all becoming ISO9001 (or whatever the number wa) compliant. Then everyone realized that all that meant was that the company paid ISO a lot of cash. We all know what that is worth now-a-days.
Jason Menard
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
There is a new level of certification that companies are now trying to claim, other than the ISO. I can't exactly remember what it's called, I want to say CEM or something like that. I do know that it is broken into various levels and being certified at certain levels means that your company performs certain software engineering processes up to a satisfactory requirement. Some of it is standard stuff like configuration management and documentation, but it also includes things like documented processes. Also included are things like code standards, the way the requirements phase is handled, QA, etc... I believe this also involves paying someone to come in and bless you with a certain level. There are also consultants who come in and advise companies on what needs to be done to obtain certain levels.
As far as what I was saying about the Government... My point was simply that certain things are required of employees (private contractor or government employee) to work in certain areas of the government. The non-degreed, but still experienced employee who is already cleared is definitely going to get the job above the degreed individual (possibly more experienced) who still has yet to be subjected to a background investigation and polygraph examination, and who must also be a US citizen.
Michal Harezlak
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 06, 2000
Posts: 185
CMM perhaps? It's all about standardization and normalization. The key to success is being able to reproduce IT! I will take certified freshman out of collage over guy with ten years of experience and bad habits.
PS
Do not we have a policy about the NAMES?
Jason Menard
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
Thank you, CMM it is. I've got too many acronyms to deal with in my life.
J
Steve Fahlbusch
Bartender

Joined: Sep 18, 2000
Posts: 581
    
    7

Pete, the error in your logic is most:
most agree (appropriate exp > certif )
most ( appropriate exp can pass certif )
therefore certif is for not appropriate exp.
not necessarly true!
there are many ways to rate/rank a candidate
education, experience, certification, degree, GPA.
whatever - is one more valuable than another, that depends
on the one doing the grading. The more you have (to a point)
the better.
I know some programmers with no eduction, that are great.
I know some programmers with years of experience that can't
programm their way out of a wet paper bag.
I know some certified programmers that can't program a
simple method.
I know people who got a 4.0 in cs (from a very respected
university) that knew nothing (could not even have a very
rudimentary discussion about the most basic of concepts).
certifications are a standard (like it or not) that attempt
to measure across a diverse population. a tool that is unlike
the others.
I have seen resumes tossed because of no degree, not appropriate
degree, poor degree, poor college/university (not what they were
looking for), no certification, no experience, didn't like the
picture, didn't like the name, didn't like the city/st/country,
didn't like the paper, didn't like the stamp used.
There is no end the criteria used to reject. Key point: any of
the measures can be good if they help you get to the interview,
any can be a liability. Usually, the more you have the better
you are. We are living in a world where employers are spending
less and less time evaulating candiates and more looking at
criteria. While not perfect, it is the way a lot of employers
are going.
Pete Pan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 14, 2001
Posts: 44
Not perfect logic, but still seems to point the Certs are not that important. As for other ranks, it is amazing out there. I was on an interview when I was 30 and the guy asked me my High School GPA. Then he started asking me "if I were an animal which would it be and why". Then he asked "what is your biggest weakness". I told him "stupid people and stupid questions". I then got up, excused myself and left. Two weeks later I got a rejection letter. So although there are different ways to rank people, the way that they do the ranking says a lot about the company/person.
Originally posted by Steve Fahlbusch:
Pete, the error in your logic is most:
most agree (appropriate exp > certif )
most ( appropriate exp can pass certif )
therefore certif is for not appropriate exp.
not necessarly true!
there are many ways to rate/rank a candidate
education, experience, certification, degree, GPA.

Nathan Pruett
Bartender

Joined: Oct 18, 2000
Posts: 4121

Pete,
No one is saying that certification is the be-all and end-all of achieving programmer godhood status! Certification is simply one indicator to an employer that the programmer may know what they are talking about... as several other people have pointed out, college degree, GPA, and experience also all play a role as indicators to the degree of knowledge that a programmer may possess. However, your attitude that certifications are not worth the paper they are printed on is a bit extreme... some certifications are useful, some are not... CS programs at colleges are different too... some just teach you 2 or 3 languages, while others concentrate a lot on the logic, structure, and architecture of the languages and give you a good actual knowlege of what is going on. So are you going to say that a college degree is useless too?
As for the interview scenario that you mentioned... asking for your HS GPA when you were 30 is pretty stupid, but, I mean, you're Pete Pan, the boy who never grew up, so I would think that you look pretty young. But seriously, it was probably just a stock question that either the company forced the interviewers to ask everyone, or the interviewer was brain dead and fell back on the stock interview questions. The "which animal and why" question is another stock interview question, but it is basically to gauge 3 things:

  1. It is to weed out the crazies... ( i.e. "I would want to be a shark, because blood excites me and the sound of tearing flesh..." )

  2. To show that you won't jump down the throats of people who ask "stupid questions"... ( i.e. managers and customers )

  3. To some extent it is used to judge creative thinking skills of the person being interviewed... if you stare blankly at the interviewer you are obviously not "thinking outside the box" ( i.e. what if the spec for the project you are working on is impossable, at least according to the knowledge you have... will you throw your hands up in desperation, or will you try to find a workaround... )


  4. The "biggest weakness" is also a stock interview question, usually used because it is a tough question to answer. You don't want to answer with something horrible like "heroin", and you don't want to answer with an obvious BS answer like, "I just can't stop myself from working hard on a project." This is also used to weed out the crazies, and also see how your communication and interpersonal skills are... ( i.e. you were asked an uncomfortable question, how will you deal with it. )
    Not a big surprise that you didn't get the job offer... "Hmmm... arrogent, aggressive, and doesn't follow procedures... He'd be perfect in our department!"
    One question, was this interview done by the actual department you were going to be working for, or was this done by some HR department... and what sort of company was it?
    -Nate


-Nate
Write once, run anywhere, because there's nowhere to hide! - /. A.C.
Pete Pan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 14, 2001
Posts: 44
believe it or not, it was a TECHNICAL interview. You have good arguments, but no one has shown me that a cert makes an expereinced programmer look better and not worse.
ARS Kumar
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 22, 2000
Posts: 108
Please don't waste your time in [[Topic: Please convince me about Certification ]] - he will never agree to anybody's points.

So certification is a BIG waste. So what if you don't want that , don't take it or spent time on boards like this.

------------------
ARS Kumar
Sun Certified Programmer for Java 2 Platform.


ARS Kumar, Sun Certified Programmer for Java 2 Platform
http://www.automatedsqa.com/
bill bozeman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 30, 2000
Posts: 1070
Pete, I like hearing from you and the others here. I am in favor of certification only because it makes me learn things I wouldn't normally learn in just my everyday code.
But you bring up a good an interesting topic. I for one hope you stick around here and post all you want, even if I don't agree with you.
What fun would life be though if all of us agreed with each other.
Now, if you start telling me that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stink, well then I have a problem.
Bill
[This message has been edited by bill bozeman (edited March 23, 2001).]
ARS Kumar
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 22, 2000
Posts: 108
hummm... So that ended up in a wrong meaning. I was never against posting something which other don't agree or disagree. I was just reading all the messages in this thread and felt like all arguments are bouncing back without any kind of recognition from the topic starter.
So after all this is NOT work. So just post or agree or disagree anything you want....

------------------
ARS Kumar
Sun Certified Programmer for Java 2 Platform.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
If you read my many postings in this forum, you'll see I'm rather against ceritifcation.
The people who want it:
1) Entry level programmers
It gives them a leg up.
2) Companies
My full house (2 SCJA, 3 SCJD) beats that of my
competitor 2 pair (2 SCJD, 2 SCJP).
3) Sun
0 to 2.5 million developers in 5 years, and
we've got a list of test takers to prove it
4) Recruiters
So they can compare apples to apples, similar
to companies
5) Training companies
$$$
If you look at the list, only the entry level employees care about it for the sake of being better programmers, as opposed to just saying that they're better programmers.
2-5 may have some members who argue that it makes people better programmers, but I fundamentally disagree (again, see any posting in this forum under my name, and the key word "certification" or "SCJ").
The CMM and ISO points show an excellent pattern. Both of those are process certifications. The belief is that if you follow a process, random errors are less likely to occur. IMHO, that's true, but it's certainly no garantee. With all the books and training materials out on SCJP, it's almost a process. Read the book, regurgitate the info, and you get certified. You probably learned some ideas about programming, but it's not a garantee (and I've seen plenty of cases where it didn't work).
Along the same lines, I don't hold CMU's master's program in a very high regard. I've interviewed about a dozen recent grads from there. They're all the same, took a handful of standard classes, data structures, AI, etc. They all did the same project, in the same class, which looks as follows.
Build an on-line rental car agency/video rental agency/etc (typical e-commerce site). They all did it using ASP or JSP front end, EJB or CORBA middle-layer, and Oracle or MS Access backend. They all claimed they were fantastic programmers, and knew a lot about not just programming, but application design. None of them had a clue--unless oyu asked about an ecommerce site, in which case they regurgitated their project, but changed the names to fit the question. (Plenty of CMU undergrads were fine, it's just this cookie cutter masters program they have).

Bottom line, certifications are a checkbox. Nothing more. There are many cases where checkboxes are useful; how many times have you added in some lame feature just so marketing could list it as another feature? But a checkbox is about one or two bits of information. It should not be seen as more than that.

--Mark
hershey@vaultus.com
bill bozeman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 30, 2000
Posts: 1070
But Mark, to your point you say who wants it. You list Companies, recuriters and training companies. Well if the companies and recruiters want them, then shouldn't you want them.
I am not saying that someone who is certified is better, and I am not going to say someone who is not certified is better. Those are to broad of statements and as we all have seen, there have been some great programmers who haven't been certified and there have been some great programmers who are certified.
But what I am saying is if companies and recruiters want it like you say, then as a programmer, I should want it also. Maybe it will never matter and maybe I will never need it, but let's say there are two people left for a job. Both with pretty equal years of experience and we both did well on the interview. Maybe the certification can be the one thing that swings the tie-breaker. Maybe it will never happen, but if you aleady know the language, why not take the time to get certified.
I don't mean for everything, Pete keep bringing up AOL and I think we all know that is a joke, but maybe Java, Oracle, and God forbid some Microsoft certifications, eek!!
Bill
Tom Pridham
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 06, 2001
Posts: 92
Read some of the posts in the Programmer Certification Results section on this website.
"0 to SCJP in 2 months"
There are ALOT of people without any prior programming knowledge, cramming for the exam and passing. What does it prove? I have 4 years of Java experience and passed the SCJP in February 2001. Does it mean anything? I am beginning to think that the test is not tough enough to weed out the "cram then exam" people.
Believe it or not, before reading the posts on this website (and seeing how easy it is for people to pass the exam), I thought that the SCJP was a huge milestone in a Java Programmers career. I now know better.
Pete Pan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 14, 2001
Posts: 44
Thanks
Pete Pan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 14, 2001
Posts: 44
Maybe the company argument, but the recruiter one?
If you have any expereince right now, every recruiter in the world is all over you. They don't mean spit.
As for the companies, I guess it depends on the company. Consulting services probably want them, but what is your opinion on hiring them? They want it because the people hiring them are not usually the tech people.
Originally posted by bill bozeman:
But Mark, to your point you say who wants it. You list Companies, recuriters and training companies. Well if the companies and recruiters want them, then shouldn't you want them. ...
Bill

Pete Pan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 14, 2001
Posts: 44
My point exactly. How much can it be worth if someone with no experience can pass it with just two month of cramming? Do you want to be classified in the same group as these people? Again, I think it makes people look bad. I interview people and ask them to tell me about their expereince. All of the SCJP start out with "I am Sun Certified". If that is the best that you have to offer, then it is going to be a quick interview.
Originally posted by Tom Pridham:
Read some of the posts in the Programmer Certification Results section on this website.
"0 to SCJP in 2 months"
There are ALOT of people without any prior programming knowledge, cramming for the exam and passing. What does it prove? I have 4 years of Java experience and passed the SCJP in February 2001. Does it mean anything? I am beginning to think that the test is not tough enough to weed out the "cram then exam" people.
Believe it or not, before reading the posts on this website (and seeing how easy it is for people to pass the exam), I thought that the SCJP was a huge milestone in a Java Programmers career. I now know better.

Thomas Paul
mister krabs
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
As far as I am concerned the certification is mostly worthless. Unless you are an absolute beginner looking for something to prove that you can learn the language, what is the point? If a consultant firm came to me and said "we can give you Java Certified Developers" I would reply "Fine, but do they actually know Java?" Why would I care that you got all the Swing questions right (and that is why you passed) if I don't use Swing in any of my applications?


Associate Instructor - Hofstra University
Amazon Top 750 reviewer - Blog - Unresolved References - Book Review Blog
Roger Chiang
Greenhorn

Joined: Mar 11, 2001
Posts: 19
Again! This is also the Qs: Who can justify SCJP2 appropriately?
(Please see Java certification result with same topic as above.)
Sometimes, OK! just sometimes, when I think why we need to take the test? (TEST1,TEST2, TEST3,..) Basically the answer is quite clear than the real test. But, OK! just but, when I, or most of us, try to choose several books to read (for what? of course, for higher grade or at least for passing, right?!), I found it's wild that the Qs in the book from sun's web site (or, another one, like JQ+...) looks like twin with the real test. It means that buy this book (or, SW) it guarantee you'll pass the test, or even get a higher score. And they allow themselves make this kind of money, but do not allow us to circulate the Qs from our ancentors...!? (They do not allow us to make use of Information Technology to be IT programmer. Is it ridiculus?!) Does that mean..., OK! just does that mean, if through commercial behaviour, we can circulate our ancestors' harvest. If this is the CASE, HI! MY DEAR ANCESTORS!!!, Pleeeese SEND YOUR SWEET Qs TO ME, I'LL COllECT IT FOR YOU AND MAKE PROFIT AND LET'S SHARE!!!
Here, I want to ASK: Who can justify SCJP2 appropriately?


Sun Certified Java Programmer 2
Michael Pearson
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 11, 2001
Posts: 351
I'm coming from a programming background where experience is very important. It's not "do you know the rules (certification)", it's "do you know how to apply them (experience)". HR departments want certification to simplify hiring and salary decisions. Technical managers want experience.
I think the SCJP2 is the minimum standard for someone to say they know the most basic parts of programming Java. If you have real world experience producing code then the certification doesn't add anything to your resume. It's just a checkmark for the HR department.
Mike
JiaPei Jen
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 19, 2000
Posts: 1309
It is true that a certification alone is not enough to proof that a person will make a good programmer. Yet, a person with experience but does not master in the core syntax and logic is not a good programmer either. It takes an experienced programmer roughly three to four weeks to prepare and pass the certification examination. However, spending the same amount of time on programming is not enough to elevate his/her programming skills to a higher level. Arrogance and complacency often come along with work experience. In addition, some people improvise or blow up work experience on their curriculum vitae.
Let me try to express my thoughts below:
GOAL: We want our decision or evaluation to be fair and as good as possible.
DECISION MAKERS: Human beings are prone to subjectivity and mistakes. And we are often required to make our decisions under time constraint with limited information provided. (One of the good books about decision making is written by Robert McNamara. He talks in retrospect about how the U.S. entered the Viet Nam War. Robert McNamara is an intelligent man. Thousands of people assisted in information gathering. Scores of people were available for consultation. Yet, Mr. McNamara admits that a wrong decision was made. ) We need indicators (a multitude of indicators) and methods to assist us in decision making. Note that �none� of the indicators and methods �is perfect�. Besides, a person�s success in any career stream depends on a combination of factors that are not limited to experience and examination scores. Sometimes, there is no such a person at home saying �I am going to divorce you if you don�t come home for dinner at certain time� is an important factor. Is it wasteful to overlook any piece of information that is presented to us? Let us take a look at the validity of examination because this thread seems to focus on examination/certification.
EXAMINATION/CERTIFICATION: Debates are going on in California to abolish the SAT score as the criterion for entering that State�s college system (The Harvard Business School phased out the requirement of GMSAT many years ago). Right now, people are still indecisive in what can best substitute SAT. At the same time, it is difficult to deny all the good reasons that SAT was needed when it was first introduced. Note that there are reasons (good or bad) behind everything that has ever existed on earth. A careful examination of reasons may deepen our knowledge and understanding about certain things.
CONCLUSION: Keep an open mind and positive attitude, avoid extremes are usually better accepted and welcomed, and may help to reduce mistakes made by human beings.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by bill bozeman:
But Mark, to your point you say who wants it. You list Companies, recuriters and training companies. Well if the companies and recruiters want them, then shouldn't you want them.
Bill

And if companies and recruiters wants me to re-take the SATs, does that mean I should want it, too? Of course not. I would think those who would require me to retake the SATs don't know what they're doing, and wouldn't want to work for them. The same is true for for requiring me to take the JCPs. In my mind, if a company tells me the JCP is a must, I start to wonder if their HR department really knows what it's doing, and knows what to look for in candidates.
The presumption is I should want what they want, because they know the field, and know what they're doing. Most recruiters I know have little clue what programming is about. Many of them are just in it for easy money (see some of my posts in this forum on recruiters). I don't think the software recruiting industry, as a whole, has a clue about certification; I choose not to blindly follow their recommendations, because I don't see the justification for it.
I'm a big believer in the free market. Right now, demand, for good programmers exceed supply; this may not be true for novice programmers, but certainly for those of us with experience, it is true. If they want me, they shouldn't be making me jump through hoops. What's next, I'm told I need to buy a certain item not because I want it, but because the manufacturers and retailers think I need it?
--Mark
hershey@vaultus.com
bill bozeman
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Joined: Jun 30, 2000
Posts: 1070
I agree with you Mark in free market, and I am not saying companies and recrutiers are correct. All I am saying if companies and recruiters are showing a trend to want to have consultants and employees who are certified, then a demand for it has risen. Right now, that is not the case since there are many companies who don't give a flying flip about certification.
To me is doesn't matter too much. I don't put certification on my resume to show I know what I am doing. I got certified as a personal goal because I wanted to show to myself that I could do it, get a good grade, and learn some things from this community. It wasn't for monetary or job reasons. When some of you say it actually hurts to be certified, I don't agree with that mentality, but whether or not it helps you get a job, I don't know. It helped me with my confidence and understanding of the subject matter which is what really matters to me.
However, don't tell my boss that. They are big on certification here so maybe I can get a raise out of it after all
Bill
Andy Ceponis
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Joined: Dec 20, 2000
Posts: 782
Well i dont have much to add to this thread since i dont even have a real job yet. I am still in University(my last semester) and im still waiting to graduate. I am of course a CS major. I am also studying to take my SCJP. Now after studying hard for it for some time, i realize that it wont make me a better programmer to know the syntax or rules. Experience counts for a ton. But what i do know is that having a SCJP can only make me look more attractive to potential employers since im just starting out.
What would look better:
1. BS in CS no practical java exp.
2. BS in CS and SCJP.
Can only help out us beginners. I agree that it doesnt mean much to those wth lots of experience. But i dont think it can ever hurt ayone either. Looks good on the resume.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Andy's posting just gave me an insight as to why I'm not a big fan of certification, even for junior developers. If he doesn't mind my borrowing his example,
Which would look better:

  1. An underqualified developer.
  2. An underqualified developer with SCJP.

  3. Well, um I guess the second case, but I wouldn't hire either. I've never met a candidate who was on the edge, such that having SCJP pushed him or her over the edge. Maybe it's just me. Has anyone out there ever hired a borderline candidate because of the certification? The reason could be made clearer by another example.
    Which would look better:

    1. An underqualified developer.
    2. An underqualified developer who's a good auto mechanic.

    3. To me, the knowledge required by the SCJP is so perriferal to the job, that I don't consider it important. That's not to say that you don't use the knowledge. Rather, if you know your fundamentals, you can learn what you need about the APIs and subtle syntax as it comes up.
      A chef can learn a 1,000 recipies, but end up making only 100 dishes. A good chef can know what makes a good meal, having learned only 30 dishes, but understands cooking well enough to create new dishes on his own.

      Then, backing up a level, if I consider the SCJP to not really effect the outcome, I wouldn't select a candidate to interview, simply because of SCJP on his resume.

      It actually gets a little worse, at least in my mind. The SCJP's I've interviewed tended to be less qualified, as a percentage, than non-SCJP candidates that I, personally, have seen. Most of them aren't CS people. and just studied on their own, or took some night classes. But they don't have the fundamentals. These days, when I see SCJP on a resume, I wonder if that candidate really understands programming, or simply passed the test and only thinks he knows what he's doing.

      --Mark
      hershey@vaultus.com
bill bozeman
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Joined: Jun 30, 2000
Posts: 1070
Mark, I don't mean this as an insult, so don't take it that way. But when you say:

These days, when I see SCJP on a resume, I wonder if that candidate really understands programming, or simply passed the test and only thinks he knows what he's doing.

Isn't that being pretty short sighted and an over generalization. Wouldn't that be like saying, when I see that the person is a woman, I wonder if she is any good. Or if I see the person is black or white, or young or old... Everyone has thier reasons for taking the exam and everyone has methods for passing it. Some learn from it, some just cram and get the score. But I don't think you can generalize like that because it does offend the people out there who studied hard, learned a lot, spent time learning what OO is and not just syntax.
Just my opinion, and again, I am not trying to argumentative.
Bill
Andy Ceponis
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Joined: Dec 20, 2000
Posts: 782
Mark, i agree with you on some points in your post. But even you started somewhere right? At one time you knew nothing about programming, and had to learn it somewhere correct? Thats all im trying to do here. ANd i thought that by studying for the SCJP it would help me learn the language.
For me at least taking the exam is second to learning the exam materials. I am in no rush to take the exam, but i am very anxious to learn the fundamentals of Java so i can become a better programmer.
And i have no illusions that just because i might have a few letters next to my name that means im good at what i am applying for. Its the same as your mechanic example. I know plenty of certified mechanics that think because they have a certification they are gods gift. Then i know other people who have never taken a class before and can rebuild an entire engine in a few hours. Same goes with any field i bet.
But i think people can at least look at the fact that someone has a cert and say "Well i have no idea if they really know how to program or not, but at least i know they have put in some time to pass this exam which shows some kind of determination".
Pete Pan
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Joined: Mar 14, 2001
Posts: 44
Originally posted by Andy Ceponis:

For me at least taking the exam is second to learning the exam materials. I am in no rush to take the exam, but i am very anxious to learn the fundamentals of Java so i can become a better programmer.


I agree 100%. I like all of these "certification prep" sites. Some of the questions are interesting, but a lot are very very basic. Heck, I might just steal some for interview questions, but I will always follow them up with the questiong "why is that the answer"
raimondas zemaitis
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Joined: Feb 23, 2001
Posts: 104
Hi,
What I don't understand here is why such discussions arise at
all. To me it is like talking is UNIX or Windows better or
is C++ better than JAVA. Both are for different purposes,
roughly speaking.
Yes, I am studying for SCJP on my own and find it pretty useful.
You have to go through all the fundamentals of the language, you
have to write a lot of code snippets to check or realize various language concepts. This isn't simple mechanic memorizing (which
I really hate). You understand what's going on much deeper (if you want of course) than by simply knowing from your experience
that "this compiles because I got it once".
There was a good example: a good chef knows how to cook
food, he does not simply memorizes recipes (this isn't exact
quote). That's right. And that is what makes a good chef.
But how he would be able to do this not knowing the fundamentals
of food cooking ? Of course there might be talants but they are
rare and rather exotic.
Of course one could jump into some project and learn lots of
stuff (by the way, my prefered way of learning), but you will
get exposed to some part of the language depending on what you
do in this project. Sooner or later you will have to fill holes
in your knowledge in order to have overall picture.
Learning programming language is similar to learning human language (I know 4 of them), you first dig into grammar and stuff
like that, than you try to make something out of what you've
learned so far. If you happen to turn over this process than use of the language is more like blind experimentation.
I also think that ability to seriously prepare and pass exam
indicates a consistent approach to learning language and ability
to do that.
I do not understand people with prejudice (usually not argumented as seen here) against SCJP. Experience rules these days, that's right. But for people new to the field SCJP could be one of the
first milestones to achieve or let's offer something else then.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by bill bozeman:
Mark, I don't mean this as an insult...
...
Isn't that being pretty short sighted and an over generalization. Wouldn't that be like saying, when I see that the person is a woman, I wonder if she is any good. Or if I see the person is black or white, or young or old...
Bill

No offense taken. I think your arguement blurrs a line. The truth is we all "generalize"; in AI I learned it as scripting. I immediately assume a 10 year old doesn't know calculus. I presume that everytime I meet one; sooner or later, I may find myself working with a mistaken presumption. We get through life by taking limited information about people and filling in the rest based on our experience. Maybe better would be that I assume most American 10 year olds are familiar with Pokeman, again, it's a reasonable assumption, and is uaully true, but it's possible I'll assume to much in some case. But if I need a surprise gift for a 10 year old I don't know, and can't get other information on, it's a reasonable assumption to make.
There's a world of difference between differentiating people based on what they choose to do, such as experience and education, and on what they inately are, such as race, or sex. I select candidates based on their education in some cases, but not race. I'll bet you do, too.
Let's take that further. If I see two resume's from kids in school, and one is from MIT, and the other is from a community college, I'd probably go with the MIT kid. I think we'd all agree it's not unreasonable to "discriminate" based on this type of differentiation.
What about certification. I recently "learned" that I shouldn't be fooled by psychic hotlines with higly paid stars, no, I should call one with psychic's certified by the American Psychic Association, or some such organization. Well, they're certified psychics, they must be good. Alternatively, maybe they're not really psychic, but instead a bunch of con artists who created an organization designed to scam naive people by making themselves look official. That being the case, the "certification" is a flag to me that the person is dishonest.
I'm certainly not saying that SCJP is a scam. Just that it's possible for something, such as a certification, to have a negative connotation.
Given that I haven't seen many qualified candidates with SCJP, and, moreover, the SCJP candidates which I have seen have tended to be worse tan non-SCJP candidates, I view them as I might view a community college graduate, less likely to be qualified. As with scripting in general, it doesn't come from any one piece of data. I certainly won't reject someone just because he or she is certified. But if there's not a lot of experience, and other points on the resume which suggests poor or little programming ability, the certification might make it look worse.
Originally posted by Andy Ceponis:
Mark, i agree with you on some points in your post. But even you started somewhere right? At one time you knew nothing about programming, and had to learn it somewhere correct? Thats all im trying to do here. ANd i thought that by studying for the SCJP it would help me learn the language.

All I'm saying is that if you want to learn the "grammar" of Java, SCJP is fine. If you want to learn to program, the SCJP isn't the best path to get there. Too many SCJP's I've meet confuse the two.

--Mark
hershey@vaultus.com
bill bozeman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 30, 2000
Posts: 1070

There's a world of difference between differentiating people based on what they choose to do, such as experience and education, and on what they inately are, such as race, or sex. I select candidates based on their education in some cases, but not race. I'll bet you do, too.

Nice comeback Your right here except I do hire people according to looks. I make sure they are well overweight and unattractive so my wife will never get suspicious.
Truthfully though, I guess I just find it discouraging that after I study to take the SCJP and pass it with a pretty good grade (93), I now found out that not only may have I wasted my time, which I don't feel because I do know I learned a lot, but now it may even hurt me.
Of course I did take the exam for more personal reasons and not monetary, so I could just take it off my resume.
Bill
Matt DeLacey
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 12, 2000
Posts: 318
Yeah,
That touched on what I was going to say. When I entered my job I wanted to do Java work. They said, yeah, OK, but so does everyone coming out of college. So I decided to get my SCJP2. So, admittedly, there were advancement(?) opportunity reasons for me doing so, but the biggest reason was to continually improve myself. I see so many of the people who graduated with me kick back and say "ahhhh...i got my degree and I'm making really good money and now I'm THERE", and I see an even greater number of people who are advanced in years who have some niche and they have NO intention of advancing their skillset and they are already stale. I passed SCJP2 and now am working on SCJD2. After that I will work toward something else (in the evenings and weekends) because I want to expand my knowledgebase, because I don't ever want to be stale, because I learn so much, because I enjoy it. My point is, you can look at it how you want, but if you make an offhand assumption about the certification (either positive OR negative...but in my estimation, especially negative), then you will miss out on some excellent people. I will pursue certifications just because I am goal oriented and it keeps me learning (A LOT). I don't have the highest CPU in the bunch, but by golly, I'll work harder than most. As a last point I want to add that if your appraoch to learning is always "What will leaning this do for me in terms of $MONEY$" or some such, then I am afraid you will miss out on developing yourself into your full potential. Sometimes, it's fun to learn for leanring's sake, regardless of the potential benefits. Admittedly, this also says if you get your certification because you expect to receive an additional x dollars or whatnot...well, you're missing the boat too. BOTTOM LINE: Get a certification because you want to learn and grow not for some perceived financial gain. If you do so, all the rest will come into place, I beleive.
With Respect,
Matt
 
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subject: Please convince me about Certification