2 Who Am I ? Independent Contractor: * Hands-on DBA / SA * Oracle, DB2 UDB, SQL Server * Articles, books, presentations * Founder & past president - IDUG & MWDUG * Certifications: * Oracle DBA * IBM DB2 DBA
3 Why this Talk? * In 1997 I took my 1 st cert exam * I barely passed * On my next exam I missed just 1 question * This talk tells you the certification secrets I discovered Thanks, I needed that! Please share yours too !
4 Why this Talk? * Most certification articles are biased Dont mislead me! We need OBJECTIVE information !
5 Outline 1. How did Certification start ? 2. Why the Sales Job ? 3. How to make it work for you 4. Secrets to Saving Money 5. Secrets to Passing the Tests ! 6. Certs * SA * DBA
6 The Dawn of Certification … Late 90s Early 80s Early 90s Novell Microsoft joins in Every Vendor Joins in !!
7 Today: Hundreds of Certs Vendor-neutral Organizations Software & Hardware Vendors Vendors: Sun, IBM, NP, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, CA, Red Hat, Novell, BMC, CompTIA, LPI, Cisco, others... Areas: SA, SE, DBA, Programmer, Developer, others... 95% 5%
Theyre Selling it to You ! Trade Press Hardware Vendors Colleges and Junior Colleges Conferences User Groups Training Firms Software Vendors Publishers Contract Firms Mutual sales interest
Because Self-Interests Converge! Vendors Employers want a quick way to qualify applicants Some use certification Employers Employees
The Vendors Real Game * Few certify with more than 1 product * IT pros promote what they know * Converts an SA to a Product SA * Creates a hidden, unpaid sales force ! * Product control & manipulation Marketing Control Manipulation Buffy tells me youre ours now...
11 II. How to Make Certification Work for You !
12 Can You Benefit ? 1. College grad breaking in 2. Mom returning to workforce 3. Programmer trying to become DBA 4. Unemployed IT manager going back to technical 5. Prove skills are current 6. SA expanding skills to another platform 7. Contractor trump card 8. Junior person Those with marginal credentials benefit most ! Intangible Benefits: Fun, Challenge, Satisfaction
13 Who Loses ? You may be forced to certify if it becomes a job credential in your area ! * Costs you Time and Money * Esp. if courses are required * Forces you to specialize * Forces career dependency on (1) Product (2) Vendor Those who already have the credentials But I do know Oracle!
14 Not marketable Require courses (vendor revenue-generator) Too many tests Too-frequent upgrade tests (vendor control freak) Rules change too frequently Vendor de-certifies Non-transparent scoring (like SAT) Cert Traps Why ?
15 How Valuable are Certs ? Cisco CCIE 96.9 MS MCDBA 65.9 CompTIA A MS MCSE 64.0 CompTIA Linux+ 52.4Novell CAN 63.5 CompTIA Server Novell CNE 71.5 HP SA 73.5Oracle DBA 72.5 HP SE 69.2Red Hat RHCT60.6 HP Master SE 78.7Red Hat RHCE 71.6 IBM DB2 DBA77.4 Sun Java Dev IBM SA n/aSun SA 70.7 LPI 68.1UNIX 72.8 Certification Magazine 2003 Survey See 19,000 IT pros worldwide How objectively are results interpreted ? 3.2 certs / person avg survey respondent 15% avg salary increase due to cert $2,715 avg cost to individual for each cert Key 96.6 = $96,600
16 How Do You Figure Out Which Certs Matter Career-wise ? View job ads Web In print (Sunday Tribune) Community indicators Restricted access to web sites, other resources
17 Which Certs Are Key Career-wise? System Administrators Database Administrators OracleDB2SQL Server MySQL Windows MCSE SolarisAIXHP/UXOther Unix Linux Exceptions– Depending on where you work Others
18 Certification Costs Oracle 8i DBA example required tests 125 = books w/ CDs 75 = sample test CDs 100 = training classes 1,600 = 3, $4,625 * Biggest single item is Classes * Time is key (study 3 to 5 weeks per test) Computerworld article pegged costs at $4k - $10k on 03/01 Here, I dont need it. Am I smart enough to certify ?
19 Solaris 7 1 Upgrade Test per Release Solaris 8 Solaris 9 Hidden Cost = Upgrade Tests Upgrade tests costs Time and Money Joe SA
20 Secrets to Reducing Your Costs -- Dont take Classes YES Save your money vendor required? NO Consider them Youre stuck YES product experience? Get employer to pay Find cheaper Cert.
21 Secrets to Reducing Your Costs 1. Employers pay for Employee Development they can quantify. Download vendors website sales pitches to sell them! 2. Get them to: (1) Pay for Classes or Exam fees (2) Time at work (3) Product access/practice 3. Get free product access (download or via employer) 4. Vendors offer free online Practice Tests 5. Take Beta Tests 6. Free testing at conferences, user groups, etc. 7. Lots of free cert info online the vendors…www.certcities.com The world is ours!
22 How To Take the Tests See vendor website Prometric at Vue at Pay by credit card Go to a Testing Center on test day/time You show 2 forms of picture ID They give you a PC PC program gives you the test Most are multiple-choice (some adaptive) You end the test or screen freezes if time runs out You get immediate PASS/FAIL plus printout Some tests tell you how well you did with topic analysis Others are like the SAT and give you no info!
23 What Percent Pass Each Test ? Pass Rate (est.) LPI Red Hat Microsoft Oracle IBM 60% - 65% 70% 75% Sources: DB2 Magazine, Cert. Magazine, LPI, IDUG, Red Hat, etc. 55% Pass Rate relates inversely to Trivia Ratio 60%
24 Skip a step and your chances of a pass plummet ! 1. Check vendor website * Rules * Freebies, study materials, etc. 2. Study a Cert Book (Written on the test youll take) 3. Hands-on Experience 4. Practice Tests (Do not rely on vendors practice tests) Steps to Certification: Secrets to Passing the Tests Wisdom ! boom !
25 Secrets to Passing the Tests * Vendor owns their tests (quality control, difficulty) Understand their policies and the lay of the land before proceeding! * Flunk rates are 1 in 2 to 1 in 4 …therefore… * You must study specifically for the test you want to pass * It does not matter what you know or can do… You must memorize the trivia ! * Memorizing product-specific technical trivial is key ! Little correspondence between passing tests and your effectiveness on the job
26 Secrets to Passing the Tests * Many vended Practice Tests give you a huge edge Example: 50 questions, Practice Test gives you 5 key answers to the hardest questions – this almost guarantees passing * MCSE – buy Transcender Oracle – buy SelfTest * Plug into the online community for the test youll take => Spend 2 hours surfing to get info before you spend 3 to 5 weeks preparing per test Psyche out the test before you take it ! Example: 50 questions, Practice Test gives you 5 answers to the hardest questions – this almost guarantees a pass !
27 III. SA Certifications
28 Market Share Trends The Big 3 Unixes * Sun Solaris * IBM AIX * HP HP/UX The Big 3 Server OSs * Unix * Linux * Windows
29 Number of Tests Required --- Standard SA Certs. Number of Tests Solaris AIX HP/UX CompTIA LPI 9 5L Linux+ Level 1 1 2
30 Sun Solaris Certification Certification:Cost : Questions Pass : Time: (minutes) Solaris Certified AdminI- $150 II- $ % 65% 105 Solaris Security$ % 90 Solaris Network$ % 105 Solaris Certified Administrator Solaris Security Solaris Network 2 each --- or --- optionally
31 Sun Solaris Certification Sun also offers Java Developer, other certs Web-based practice exams for all tests Solaris 9 Upgrade test: $100, 41 questions, 68% to pass, 60 minutes Website: Secrets to passing – Buy ExamCram2 study book w/ questions and/or the QUE Training Guide
32 AIX Certification Typical System Administrator path… 1 test $120?3 tests Advanced Technical ExpertAIX System Administrator --- or --- pSeries Systems Support AIX System Administrator P690 Technical Support HACMP Certified Advanced Technical Expert Fuller Explanation…
33 AIX Certification Certification : Tests to Pass: Prereqs : Tests You Take: Number of Questions: AIX System Administrator 1none19162 PSeries Systems Support 1none19972 HACMP Certified 1191 or P690 Technical Support 1191 or Advanced Technical Expert 3191 or 199 Your choice- 233/4/5/6, 187 or 195 Varies
34 IBM AIX Certification IBM offers many related certs Web-based practice exams for all tests Website: Details on each test at: Secrets to saving money – IBM offers many free downloads for studying (Redbooks, manuals, articles, etc)
35 HP/UX Certification Typical System Administrator path… 1 test $100 (2 hours, 80 Qs) 2 day course with on-site exam $1,300 plus travel HP/UX Certified System Administrator (CSA) HP/UX Certified System Engineer (CSE) HP offers many related certs for SAs Tru64, OpenVMS, etc. Website:
36 Linux SA Certs CompTIA Linux+ LPI Vendor Neutral Vendor Specific 1 test -- lightweight 6 tests In 3 levels -- 50% fail ! Red Hat RHCT, RHCE Required courses -- Expensive ! -- 40% fail ! SuseIBM -- fragmented market -- Fragmented mess ! -- No dominant cert others...
37 2 each Level 1Level 2Level 3 Linux Professional Institute (LPI) Vendor neutral 2 Tests per $100 per test No expiration Level 3 tests are in development Website: Extreme trivia challenge Complex passing algorithm Only 50%+ pass -- by design ! 2 each
38 CompTIA 1 test $145 (90 minutes, 94 questions, complex pass algorithm) Linux+ Vendor neutral CompTIA is known for A+ (popular for PC support technicians) Server+, Network+, Security+, others All are 1 Test $145 Linux+ covers hardware ! Website:
39 Red Hat 4.5 day course includes ½ day hands-on test Red Hat Certified Technician (RHCT) Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) Expensive ! ($900 -> $3000 per course plus travel) (Average is > $2000) Failure rate is between 37% and 42% If the course is any good, youd think youd pass ! Website: Required course includes test Source: Failure Rate from Red Hat website 03/15/04
40 MCSE Microsoft MCSE An important cert to have if you support Windows servers MS makes frequent program changes MS de-certifies those who dont upgrade on their schedule Windows > Windows 2003 requires two upgrade tests Trivial pursuit style questions Adaptive testing ??? Website: or Secrets to passing – Buy practice tests from Buy Microsofts MCSE Training Kits 7 each I feel like a hamster on the wheel…
41 IV. DBA Certifications
42 Market Share Trends IBM 34% Oracle 34% Microsoft 17% Other 15% Sources: Gartner, Dataquest, IDC, FCI The Big 3 Databases
43 Marketability by Platform MS 50% ORACLE 40% Other 10% Windows Server Other 40% ORACLE 60% Unixes DB2 > 90% Other 10% Mainframe Sources: Gartner, IDC, Dataquest, FCI iSeries DB2 > 90%
44 Number of Tests Required --- Standard DBA Certs. Number of Tests MS Oracle IBM 4 2 SQL Server 9i OCP V Plus 1 required course
OCA (Associate) OCP (DBA) OCM (Master) Oracle DBA OCP is the most marketable DBA cert OCP is the standard DBA certification Oracle offers many other related certs OCP course requirement is new in 9i release 2 OCM is expensive -- few will pay this Download Oracle trial copy free Website: or Secrets to passing – Buy practice tests from Buy Jason S. Couchmans book with practice tests 2 each Plus 1 course 2 courses Plus 1 test
46 1 test $120 Database Associate Database Administrator Advanced Database Administrator IBM DB2 DBA IBM offers many other DB2-related certs Website: or www-1.ibm.com/certify/certs/db_index.shtml 75% pass rate Secrets to saving money -- Free downloadable GUI test prep materials from IBM ! Free testing at IDUG (www.idug.org)www.idug.org Free DB2 trial copy download Secret to passing – use IBMs free courseware You choose z/OS or LUW 1 test $120
47 MCDBA Microsoft DBA Only 1 cert -- requires passing 4 tests Can re-use Passes from other MS certs Only 2 of the tests must be on SQL Server ! Only worth it for Windows professionals Microsoft may de-certify Download SQL Server trial copy free Website: or Secrets to passing – Buy practice tests from Buy Microsofts SQL Server Training Kit 4 each
48 Vendor website for the product your interested in Check users group websites Certification Websites