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Certification Secrets !. Howard Fosdick (630)-279-4286 [email protected] ( C) 2004 FCI. v.U.1. Independent Contractor: * Hands-on DBA / SA * Oracle, DB2 UDB, SQL Server * Articles, books, presentations * Founder & past president - IDUG & MWDUG

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Certification secrets

Certification

Secrets!

Howard Fosdick

(630)-279-4286

[email protected]

(C) 2004 FCI

v.U.1


Certification secrets

Independent Contractor:

* Hands-on DBA / SA

* Oracle, DB2 UDB, SQL Server

* Articles, books, presentations

* Founder & past president - IDUG & MWDUG

* [email protected]

Certifications:

* Oracle DBA

* IBM DB2 DBA

Who Am I ?


Certification secrets

“Thanks, I needed that!”

Why this Talk?

* In 1997 I took my 1st cert exam

* I barely passed

* On my next exam I missed just 1 question

  • * This talk tells you the “certification secrets” I discovered

Please share yours too !


Certification secrets

Why this Talk?

* Most certification articles are biased

“Don’t mislead me!”

We need OBJECTIVE information !


Certification secrets

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

Outline


Certification secrets

Every

Vendor

Joins in !!

The Dawn of Certification …

Microsoft

joins in

Novell

Early

80s

Early

90s

Late

90s


Certification secrets

Today: Hundreds of Certs

5%

95%

Software &

Hardware Vendors

Vendor-neutral

Organizations

Vendors:Sun, IBM, NP, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, CA, Red Hat,

Novell, BMC, CompTIA, LPI, Cisco, others...

Areas: SA, SE, DBA, Programmer, Developer, others...


They re selling it to you

Why ?

They’re Selling it to You !

Software

Vendors

Training

Firms

Trade

Press

Publishers

Contract

Firms

Colleges and

Junior Colleges

Hardware

Vendors

User Groups

Conferences

Mutual sales interest


Because self interests converge

Why ?

Because Self-Interests Converge!

Vendors

Employers

Employees

Employers want a quick way to “qualify” applicants

Some use certification


The vendors real game

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

“Buffy tells me

you’re ours now...”

Marketing

Manipulation

Control


Certification secrets

II. How to Make Certification

Work for You !


Certification secrets

Those with marginal credentials

benefit most !

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

Intangible Benefits: Fun, Challenge, Satisfaction


Certification secrets

Those who already have the credentials

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

“But I do

know Oracle!”


Certification secrets

“Cert Traps”

Why ?

  • 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) “ “ “


Certification secrets

  • Certification Magazine 2003 Survey

  • See www.certmag.com

  • 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

How Valuable are Certs ?

Cisco CCIE 96.9 MS MCDBA 65.9

CompTIA A+ 47.8 MS MCSE 64.0

CompTIA Linux+ 52.4Novell CAN 63.5

CompTIA Server+ 53.1 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. 75.0 IBM SA n/aSun SA 70.7

LPI 68.1UNIX 72.8

Key 96.6 = $96,600


How do you figure out which certs matter career wise

How Do You Figure Out WhichCerts Matter Career-wise ?

  • View job ads

    • Web

    • In print (Sunday Tribune)

  • “Community” indicators

    • Restricted access to web sites, other resources


Which certs are key career wise

Which Certs Are Key Career-wise?

Windows

MCSE

Exceptions– Depending on where you work

System

Administrators

Solaris

AIX

HP/UX

Other

Unix

Linux

Database

Administrators

Oracle

DB2

SQL

Server

MySQL

Others


Certification secrets

Oracle 8i DBA example . . .

1. 5 required tests 125 = 625

2. 4 books w/ CDs 75 = 300

3. 5 sample test CDs 100 = 500

4. 2 training classes 1,600 = 3,200

--------

$4,625

* Biggest single item is Classes

* Timeis key (study 3 to 5 weeks per test)

Certification Costs

“Here, I don’t

need it. Am I

smart enough

to certify ?”

Computerworld article pegged

costs at $4k - $10k on 03/01


Certification secrets

Joe SA

“Hidden” Cost = Upgrade Tests

1 Upgrade Test per Release

Solaris

9

Solaris

8

Solaris

7

Upgrade tests costs

Time and Money


Certification secrets

YES

NO

vendor

required?

Secretsto Reducing Your Costs

-- Don’t take Classes

NO

YES

product experience?

Save

your money

Consider them

You’re stuck

  • Get employer to pay

  • Find cheaper Cert.


Certification secrets

1. Employers pay for “Employee

Development” they can quantify.

Download vendor’s 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

www.cramsession.com, www.certmag.com,

www.certcities.com, the vendors…

“The world is ours!”

Secretsto Reducing Your Costs


How to take the tests

How To Take the Tests

  • See vendor website

  • Prometric at www.prometric.com

  • Vue at www.vue.com

  • 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!


Certification secrets

What Percent Pass Each Test ?

75%

70%

60% -

65%

Pass

Rate

(est.)

60%

55%

LPI Red HatMicrosoft Oracle IBM

Sources:

DB2 Magazine,

Cert. Magazine,

LPI, IDUG,

Red Hat, etc.

Pass Rate relates inversely to Trivia Ratio


Certification secrets

Wisdom !

Steps to Certification:

Secrets to Passing the Tests

1. Check vendor website

* Rules

* Freebies, study materials, etc.

2. Study a Cert Book (Written on the test you’ll take)

3. Hands-on Experience

4. Practice Tests (Do not rely on vendor’s practice tests)

boom !

Skip a step and your chances

of a pass plummet !


Certification secrets

* 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 !

Secrets to Passing the Tests

Little correspondence between passing

tests and your effectiveness on the job


Certification secrets

  • * 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 you’ll take

  • => Spend 2 hours surfing to get info

  • before you spend 3 to 5 weeks preparing per test

Secrets to Passing the Tests

Example:

50 questions, Practice Test gives you 5 answers to the hardest questions – this almost guarantees a pass !

Psyche out the test before you take it !


Certification secrets

III. SA Certifications


Certification secrets

Market Share Trends

The “Big 3” Server OSs

The “Big 3” Unixes

* Unix

* Linux

* Windows

* Sun Solaris

* IBM AIX

* HP HP/UX


Certification secrets

Number of Tests Required

--- Standard SA Certs.

Number

of

Tests

2

1

Solaris AIX HP/UXCompTIA LPI

9 5L Linux+ Level 1


Sun solaris certification

Certification:

Cost:

Questions

Pass:

Time:

(minutes)

Solaris Certified Admin

I- $150

II- $150

57

58

64%

65%

105

105

Solaris Security

$150

60

60%

90

Solaris Network

$150

64

70%

105

Solaris 9

Sun Solaris Certification

Solaris Security

Solaris Certified Administrator

--- or ---

optionally

2 tests @$150 each

Solaris Network


Sun solaris certification1

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: http://training.sun.com/US/certification

  • Secrets to passing –

    • Buy ExamCram2 study book w/ questions

    • and/or the QUE Training Guide


Aix certification

AIX 5L

AIX Certification

Typical System Administrator path…

AIX System Administrator

Advanced Technical Expert

1 test $120?

3 tests

Fuller Explanation…

Advanced Technical Expert

--- or ---

AIX System Administrator

HACMP Certified

--- or ---

--- or ---

pSeries Systems Support

P690 Technical Support


Aix certification1

Certification:

Tests to Pass:

Prereqs:

Tests You Take:

Number of

Questions:

AIX System

Administrator

1

none

191

62

PSeries Systems Support

1

none

199

72

HACMP Certified

1

191 or 199

187

50

P690 Technical Support

1

191 or 199

195

68

Advanced Technical Expert

3

191 or 199

Your choice-

233/4/5/6, 187 or 195

Varies

AIX Certification


Ibm aix certification

IBM AIX Certification

  • IBM offers many related certs

  • Web-based practice exams for all tests

  • Website: http://www-1.ibm.com/certify

  • Details on each test at:

  • http://www-1.ibm.com/certify/tests/info.shtml

  • Secrets to saving money–

    • IBM offers many free downloads for studying

  • (Redbooks, manuals, articles, etc)


Hp ux certification

HP/UX

HP/UX Certification

Typical System Administrator path…

HP/UX Certified System

Administrator (CSA)

HP/UX Certified System

Engineer (CSE)

2 day course with

on-site exam $1,300

plus travel

1 test $100

(2 hours, 80 Qs)

  • HP offers many related certs for SA’s

    • Tru64, OpenVMS, etc.

  • Website: www.hp.com/go/certification


Linux sa certs

Linux

-- Fragmented mess !

-- No dominant cert

Linux SA Certs

Vendor

Neutral

Vendor

Specific

Red Hat

RHCT,

RHCE

CompTIA

Linux+

Required courses

-- Expensive !

-- 40% fail !

1 test

-- lightweight

LPI

Suse

IBM

others. . .

6 tests

In 3 levels

-- 50% fail !

-- fragmented market


Certification secrets

Linux

Linux Professional Institute (LPI)

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

2 tests @$100 each

2 tests @$100 each

2 tests @$100 each

  • Vendor neutral

  • 2 Tests per Level @ $100 per test

  • No expiration

  • Level 3 tests are in development

  • Website: www.lpi.org

  • Extreme trivia challenge

  • Complex passing algorithm

  • Only 50%+ pass -- by design !


Comptia

Linux

CompTIA

Linux+

1 test $145

(90 minutes, 94 questions, complex pass algorithm)

  • Vendor neutral

  • CompTIA is known for A+ (popular for PC support technicians)

  • Server+, Network+, Security+, others

    • All are 1 Test each @ $145

  • Linux+ covers hardware !

  • Website: www.comptia.org


Red hat

Red Hat 9

Red Hat

Red Hat Certified

Technician (RHCT)

Red Hat Certified

Engineer (RHCE)

4.5 day course includes

½ day hands-on test

Required course includes test

  • Expensive ! ($900 -> $3000 per course plus travel)

  • (Average is > $2000)

  • Failure rate is between 37% and 42%

  • If the course is any good, you’d think you’d pass !

  • Website: www.redhat.com

  • www.redhat.com/training/certification

Source:

Failure Rate from

Red Hat website 03/15/04


Certification secrets

Windows

Server

2003

Microsoft MCSE

MCSE

“I feel like a hamster

on the wheel…”

7 tests @$125 each

  • An important cert to have if you support Windows servers

  • MS makes frequent program changes

  • MS de-certifies those who don’t upgrade on their schedule

  • Windows 2000 -> Windows 2003 requires two upgrade tests

  • Trivial pursuit style questions

  • Adaptive testing ???

  • Website: www.microsoft.com

  • or www.microsoft.com/trainingandservices/

  • Secrets to passing –

  • Buy practice tests from www.transcender.com

  • Buy Microsoft’s MCSE Training Kits


Certification secrets

IV. DBA Certifications


Certification secrets

The Big “3” Databases

Market Share Trends

Other

15%

IBM

34%

Oracle

34%

Microsoft

17%

Sources: Gartner,

Dataquest, IDC, FCI


Certification secrets

Windows

Server

Other

40%

Unixes

MS

50%

Marketability by Platform

ORACLE

40%

ORACLE

60%

Other

10%

Mainframe

iSeries

DB2

> 90%

DB2

> 90%

Other

10%

Sources: Gartner,

IDC, Dataquest, FCI


Certification secrets

Plus 1

required

course

Number of Tests Required

--- Standard DBA Certs.

4

Number

of

Tests

2

MS Oracle IBM

SQL Server 9i OCP V8

2000


Certification secrets

Oracle9i

Oracle DBA

OCA

(Associate)

OCP

(DBA)

OCM

(Master)

1 test @$90

1 test @$125

2 tests @$125 each

Plus 1 course

2 courses

Plus 1 test

  • 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: www.oracle.com

  • or www.oracle.com/education/certification/index.html

  • Secrets to passing –

  • Buy practice tests from www.selftestsoftware.com

  • Buy Jason S. Couchman’s book with practice tests


Certification secrets

DB2 V8

IBM DB2 DBA

You choose

z/OS or LUW

Database

Associate

Advanced

Database

Administrator

Database

Administrator

1 test $120

1 test $120

1 test $120

  • IBM offers many other DB2-related certs

  • Website: www.ibm.com

    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)

    • Free DB2 trial copy download

  • Secret to passing – use IBM’s free courseware


Certification secrets

SQL Server 2000

Microsoft DBA

MCDBA

4 tests @$125 each

  • 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: www.microsoft.com

  • or www.microsoft.com/trainingandservices/

  • Secrets to passing –

  • Buy practice tests from www.transcender.com

  • Buy Microsoft’s SQL Server Training Kit


Certification secrets

Certification Websites

www.cramsession.com

www.certmag.com

www.certcities.com

Vendor website for the product your interested in

Check users group websites


Certification secrets

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