I have been working as a Java developer for going on six years. Always have been able to find work and currently am working as an architect on contract. With the market getting so competitive I am considering getting some certifications to make myself a bit more competitive. Any insight from those of you who have been working for awhile ? Did getting certified seem to help ? I am just trying to prepare for future job hunts and appreciate anyone sharing there experience. I feel every little bit helps, but it is an investment of time and money to knock out all these exams.
Mark, Thanks for responding. I have searched around and not found a whole lot. I did see some good stuff on getting a masters, which is a goal of mine anyway. My concern is that I do not want a break in employment which thankfully has not happened yet. I was always a perm until I got caught in a layoff when my employer had money trouble. Since then I have been contracting which is kind of scary because of the short terms, although I have been extended to over a year on the two I have done. I just thought being certified would maybe give me an edge I don't have. Up to this point my track record has gotten me jobs, but if I can get an edge I will. Figured this would be a good forum for some feedback. It is amazing how a lot of the cert questions are about topics that do not impact day to day work.
Hi M.C. Getting SCJP itself will not guarantee you a job, but it will fill the gaps in your knowledge, which you are probably not aware of. Yes, being certified does not mean that you are a good developer, it just means that you passed an exam and know the material required by its objectives. SCWCD is a much better exam, which has more practical knowledge. Another thing, if you have the certification, and interviewed by the guy who has the same certificate, more than likely you are going to have advantage over other candidates who do not have such certificate. I don't think anybody is going to hold your certificate against you. Myself, I have SCJP, studying for SCWCD and already have MSEE from college.
Thanks for responding Michael. I just have visions of many resumes sitting in a pile, all very similar, all good developers with tangible experience. They are all very similar, as the one who has to sort through this mess, how do I sort ? I can look at the degree or lack of. Where is the degree from ? Where was the experience gained ? Have you worked with the vendor's products that we use ? Last, any certifications ? It seems it could be the difference in this current market, where it is very competitive. Maybe the programmer's cert doesn't mean much after six years in the business, but that cert is necessary in order to take the one you mentioned (SWCD). I definitely do not want to waste time and money on it, but I would hate not to even get an interview because someone else very similar to me had a cert and I didn't. The goal is an interview, then the experience can shine through, expecially if the interviewer has the same background. In past interviews they could care less about certs, although I have had them ask if I would be willing to get it. Seems they felt from a sales perspective, that their clients would be more eager to give them work. What's funny is that their clients were within their own company. This was a major Telecom player, which I think makes a difference. Big corps like certs a lot more IMHO.
From my experience ( over 5 years in programming and over 3 years in Java server-side ) I found that there is a lot people who can put impressive experience, but missing basic knowledge. The field is changing rapidly. It is necessary to be familiar with latest specs, J2EE design patterns, third-party products. Studying for SCWCD certificate will at least bring your servlets/jsp knowledge up-to-date. Besides the certificate, I found that it is very important to know following things: 1. Project modeling with UML ( from getting requirements to final implementation ). 2. Knowledge in software project management, such as "how to estimate how long will it take to complete the project", or "what to do when you can not complete the code within scheduled date". 3. J2EE patterns. 4. Open source tools such as Ant, JUnit, HttpUnit. 5. JDBC and Database modeling. Besides that communications skills, being able to listen and talk to people is always a must.
If I were in your position, I wouldn't think about getting certified unless you're talking about the Java Architect certification. The SCJP and SCJD would not help you. Even the architect cert would only help marginally. With 5 or 6 years of experience, it's almost expected you are an architect of some sort. I would go write a book or something. Or try to become the definitive expert in a niche area, while not alienating recruiters who look for other skills. Go write an article for theserverside.com or slashdot.
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