After industry giant Microsoft, Oracle is the second-largest software maker by revenue. Among other products, Oracle develops database management systems, middle-tier software, customer relationship management (CRM) software and supply-chain management (SCM) software. The Oracle Certified Associate certification, or OCA, is a professional credential that Oracle offers for a variety of its products.
According to the Oracle University website more than "80 percent of people who earned an Oracle cert reported a salary increase, promotion or career improvement." This may make certification an attractive proposition for IT professionals looking to remain competitive in an ever-growing industry.
There are multiple steps in the certification training process. Individuals usually begin by identifying the particular cert they're interested in. Perhaps they already use a particular software in their job and would like to become certified to demonstrate their proficiency to their current employer. It's possible a certification in a technology they're currently unfamiliar with will open up new career paths. Oracle offers certification in the following areas:
- Applications, such as eBusiness Suite and PeopleSoft
- Database technologies including My SQL
- Enterprise management, such as the Oracle Application Testing Suite
- Foundation certifications like Oracle IT Architecture
- Java and Middleware
- Operating systems like Linux
- Other systems certs, such as those related to Oracle servers
Each broad category offers many specific certifications for specific types of software, so it's important to identify the exact certification needed for an individual's situation and career goals. Once the desired certification has been identified, individuals can take coursework from Oracle University as well as practice tests (available for purchase from Kaplan SelfTest or Oracle) and exam prep seminars. The duration of a particular training course will vary; for example, the live virtual classes for PeopleSoft's Global Payroll: Core Engine Rel 8.9 and the Java SE 8 Programming training each lasts five days.
About the exams
There is a fee for both the training courses offered by Oracle University as well as a separate fee to take the exam itself. To give an example, the Java SE 8 Programmer exam costs $245 and consists of 77 multiple-choice questions that must be answered in 120 minutes (two hours). A score of at least 65 percent is required to pass. Given these requirements, it is in a student's best interest to pass the certification exam on the first try, so advance preparation is recommended. Once an individual feels confident, they can register for the exam, which is generally taken at a Pearson VUE Testing Center.
After arrival at the testing center, test takers will need to provide two forms of ID, one of which must be government-issued and both of which must contain the test taker's signature. Individuals are provided with erasable noteboards which are collected after the exam is complete. It's important to arrive at least 15 minutes in advance of one's exam time, or the testing center personnel may not allow an individual to take the exam. Typically, exam results are sent via email within 30 minutes of completing the test.
Special accommodations are available for test takers with disabilities. Veterans and their dependents may be eligible for the GI Bill and the Dependents Educational Assistance reimbursement program. Those eligible may download the appropriate form from Oracle's website and submit it to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
OCA certification in the workplace
There are as many professional roles for which this type of certification may be beneficial as there are Oracle products. According to Oracle's website, approximately 97 percent of the Global Fortune 500 companies use Oracle software. Whether individuals are just trying to stay up-to-date on the technology they use in their current role or are trying to broaden their technical expertise in order to advance their career, becoming a certified associate can help make individuals better technologists.
Certified associates receive personalized eCertificates, secure access to downloadable certification logos and access to the 3rd party verification tool. These benefits help individuals promote their certification status. Individuals with OCA certification may want to go on to attain higher-level certifications such as Professional, Master, Specialist and Expert.
While Oracle certifications don't generally expire, it's important to note certification is tied to a particular version of a given product. As new products are released, new certifications will become available. As the company an individual works for upgrades to the latest product or latest version of a product, certification in the version being used may require new certifications.
Depending on the software, individuals may be able to upgrade their certification by taking one or two additional exams. While additional training courses are usually not required before taking upgrade exam(s), completing such training may increase an individual's chances of success. This is particularly the case if there are significant changes between the old and new versions of the product.
"Oracle Certifications," Oracle University, 21 April 2015, http://education.oracle.com/pls/web_prod-plq-dad/db_pages.getpage?page_id=50