The jCert Initiative and Java Certifications
The jCert Initiative is a nonprofit consortium that includes various software vendors, training providers, certification organizations and a few other players whose mission is to promote Java certification in general. Originally, jCert was designed to facilitate Java-related certifications so that individuals could transfer their skills and knowledge from one sponsor’s certification program to another without having to start all over upon making such a move. The idea was to recognize Java literacy and skills, and to permit those skills and related knowledge to retain value and credibility so that individuals could perhaps go to Sun for basic Java certification and then pursue more advanced credentials from other sponsors to build on their knowledge.
The participants in the jCert initiative include the following organizations:
- BEA Systems: Offers several BEA Certified Specialist credentials for its Java-based BEA WebLogic Server product (testing available from Thomson Prometric). Strong Java skills are required for the related Portal and Server specialist programs, but BEA also offers two course-only based credentials as well: BEA Certified Administrator and BEA Certified Architect. Of those, strong Java skills and knowledge are also required for the Architect cert. See certification.bea.com/certification/index.jsp for more information.
- Computer Generated Solutions (CGS): A broad computing services and consulting company that offers a wide range of online and classroom courses on Java language, libraries and programming topics, plus courses on Java-based environments like IBM’s WebSphere, CGS does not appear to offer any Java certifications per se, but does have a large investment in Java training and related services. Read the company’s course catalog at www.cgsinc.com/download/Final2002Catalog.pdf.
- IBM: Among the company’s hundreds of certifications, many of its certified developer programs include or offer Java-related content and requirements, particularly in areas related to WebSphere and e-Business specialties. Cruise the offerings at www-1.ibm.com/certify/index.shtml for more information.
- ProsoftTraining: Now the coordinator of the jCert initiative, ProsoftTraining also offers a CIW Web Developer certification that includes an exam specifically targeted at getting individuals familiar with jCert foundations and requirements. See www.ciwcertified.com/certifications/webdev.asp?comm=home&llm=2.
- SkillSoft: A leading e-learning provider, SkillSoft’s course catalog includes a sizable number of Java-related offerings that work up from basic Java 2 language constructs and concepts to significant coverage of the Java 2 Enterprise Edition environment, Java Server Pages and related Java development tools and technologies. See www.skillsoft.com/corporate/curicula/java_1.htm for details.
- Sun Microsystems: The originator of the Java programming language, Sun probably has the best-known and best-developed Java certification program around, including programmer, developer and architect credentials, as well as certs on other technical Java topics. See training.sun.com/US/certification for more information.
- Thomson Prometric: Probably the biggest and best-known global certification testing center operator, Prometric supports a wide range of Java-related cert exams. Visit www.2test.com to look for various related exams and offerings.
The real goal of the jCert Initiative is to promote industry-wide recognition of various job roles that define a set of knowledge and practical skills necessary to undertake specific development-related job tasks. The four jCert job roles that the organization has defined include the following, presented in ascending order of requirements and complexity:
- Web Developer: An individual who possesses the skills and knowledge necessary to assemble and maintain Java-based Web applications. This means Web Developers should be familiar with Java, but may not need to write Java code; normally, they will use development tools that generate code and focus on understanding business requirements necessary to drive application development. The CIW jCert exam maps in here.
- Java Programmer: Uses Java to build, test and maintain Java applications, applets or servlets, and requires strong knowledge and understanding of Java language concepts and constructs, object-oriented design, managing execution threads and working with Java packages. The Sun 2 Programmer exam maps in here.
- Solution Developer: Goes beyond Java language details to cover skills and knowledge related to designing, building and maintaining applications for network or Internet deployment. Candidates must understand how to design and build component-based systems, work with JavaBeans and access and use databases with Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) technologies. Various Sun, CIW and IBM exams map in here.
- Enterprise Developer: The most senior jCert job role, an Enterprise Developer must be able to work with specialists from all walks of technical life to design and develop distributed enterprise software components around Java-based technologies. This requires developers to integrate multiple systems and enterprise-wide applications and to build complex distributed services that are scalable, available and secure. Various Sun, CIW, IBM and BEA exams map in here.
Broad outlines of these job roles and the various certification exams that map into these roles are depicted in a very nice chart at www.jcert.org/jobroles/jobroles.html.
Although the jCert Initiative proposes a single, coherent view of job roles and Java-related certifications, other companies outside the jCert consortium also offer or have offered Java-related certification credentials. In the wake of Oracle’s withdrawal from jCert in 2001, the company has recently retired its Java developer credentials. Training and “private label” certification company Learning Tree International still offers Java-related certification programs today, however. Many other certification programs also include Java-related content nowadays as well.
Ed Tittel is president of LANwrights Inc. and is contributing editor for Certification Magazine. Ed can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.