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Certification exams

This is an update of a blog item I made nearly 15 years ago … but I think it still holds true

Is doing the OCP exams worthwhile ?
Yes, but not for the reasons you may be thinking. The OCP exams are a relatively cheap way of identifying possible weaknesses in your knowledge base on Oracle. For example, when I did the OCP, all of the database sites I had worked on did not use MTS and thus the exams revealed an area that could be “swotted up” on.

What does an OCP mean ?
The exams could probably be passed with moderate understanding of Oracle and some “cramming”. This is not to denigrate the exams, or the people that produce them in any way.  It is just an unfortunate reality that gleaning someone’s real world industry knowledge from an exam format is an extremely difficult problem to solve (See alternative 2 below).  Any employer that takes on an Oracle professional purely on the basis of their OCP status probably will (and some might argue, deserves to) get burnt.

Even the Certification site itself – describes that the certification is perhaps not the real benefit, but more the journey toward certification, that is, learning a good breadth of the database technology (emphasis mine) is the goal:

“The process of obtaining Oracle Database Certifications broadens your knowledge and skills by exposing you to an array of important database features, functions and tasks. Through your exam preparation, which includes labs, study and practice, you’ll learn how to perform complex, hands-on activities to build your database skill set.” –

A good DBA will pass the OCP, but someone who passes the OCP is not necessarily a good DBA.  For example, a true story…a question I once saw posted to a newsgroup:

  "What does ROWNUM mean?
   Signed XXX

Are there any alternatives ?
1) I heartily recommend downloading the sample exams for the reason mentioned above. You can use them to identify areas upon which to improve.

2) The other option if you’ve got some training budget, is the Oracle Certified Master program.  That is a series of genuine hands-on tasks to demonstrate knowledge in a broad range of areas.