Today the IT world is filled with different kinds of certifications. Every certificate authority tells you that it’s their certificate which is the most useful in what ever it is you are doing. From a developer’s point of view, what are the certification exams, are they really useful or just a waste of time?
I started working at Ambientia in the beginning of year 2011. Quite soon after I got settled in I was asked if certificates would interest me. Java Standard Edition 6 Programmer Certified Professional certification to be precise. And oh boy, was I interested or not?
So I began the journey in to depths of Java, so much so, that at times I felt desperate – how am I able to learn everything. Still, bit by bit (pun intended) I started connecting the pieces, the nifty little details I was supposed to know for the exam. Reading the material gave me the confidence that I could handle the exam – I began to know the basics of Java inside out. Surprising or not, I passed the exam in the beginning March, 2013.
Quite soon after the exam I set my eyes on the Oracle Certified Expert Java Web Component Developer certification. It was the logical next step for me as I am developing web applications with Java. My personal, quite ambitious goal was for me to get two certificates within one year. Because I was busy with the projects I was working with, I wasn’t able to study as much as I wanted. I had to give up on the thought of passing the second exam before 2014.
I had the strong will to get the certificate at some point. Around February 2014 we agreed with Toni, who also works at Ambientia’s Joensuu office, that we should give it a go. We were excited to start with the studies only to be held back by the hectic spring we had at work. Still we wanted to take the exam before the much deserved vacation, and in the beginning of July we went to Helsinki to take the exam. And the trip was a success, for both of us! I finally got the second Oracle certification I was after.
So, what did I learn? Am I able to use what I studied when working with my projects? First of all, studying for the basic Java certificate taught me quite a lot. Not about how as much as what and why. The second, more advanced certification was more about the how. Especially the how, which related to what I am doing every day. I learned a lot about web applications and how they function in the background. Before I had the knowledge of different configurations needed for certain actions. After the exam, I started to understand what the configurations did in the backend. I also got some ideas on how things could be done, now just waiting for the right place to try these things out.
To sum things up I believe that there’s a time and place for certificates. It is a jungle of certifications out there, so you should be careful to select the ones that suit you the best. These are the ones about the techniques you are using every day. The areas in which you need more thorough understanding on the mechanics involved. For me it’s been Java certificates as well as the SCRUM Master certificate.
Now that I’ve got the developer certificates from Oracle, what’s next? It’s not time for the Oracle’s architect certification just yet, so Liferay, I’m coming after you!