DB2 Developer Certification—Why, How and What?
Until a few years ago IT certifications were targeted primarily at networking professionals. Like everything else in the industry, this has also changed. Certifications are being developed and launched by vendors for all professionals. IBM’s DB2 certifications are no exception. In fact, IBM has been at the forefront of developing certifications for developers. With such massive vendor push and cutthroat competition for IT jobs, certification is here to stay.
Even if you are not writing DB2 stored procedures full-time, you are probably writing code in other languages to access data in a DB2 database. It is also possible that you are doing both. After all, developers are expected to do more as IT budgets get smaller. So as a developer, should you certify in DB2? Will it help your career? What is the process for certification? How do you prepare for the exam? With training budgets being slashed, how can you spend the least money to do it? This article is based on my experience certifying first as an IBM Certified Specialist for DB2 V7.1 and then as an IBM Certified Application Developer for DB2 V8.1.
Why Should I Certify in DB2?
As it is with any other certification, there can be different reasons:
- To prove your skills to management.
- For the thrill of passing exams.
- As a genuine effort to learn more.
Your time will be best spent on certification if you are doing it as a genuine effort to learn more. But even if you are doing it just to get that piece of paper, I am quite sure that along the way you will gain some valuable knowledge.
If you are looking for a new position, you can argue that very few advertised developer positions require certification. This is absolutely true. But what I have realized from my interaction with recruiters is that they are more likely to recommend the resume of a certified professional than another resume, and in this tough job market, getting your resume into the hands of the hiring manager is probably the biggest challenge.
If you are not looking for a new position, DB2 certification can help you take on more responsibility in your current position. In addition, it will help you broaden your knowledge by reading about aspects of DB2 you don’t use every day as a developer. Certification has helped me gain responsibility as well as knowledge.
How Do I Certify?
You can become an IBM Certified Specialist by passing exam #512, IBM Certified Specialist – DB2 V7.1 Family or become an IBM Certified Database Associate by passing exam #700, IBM Certified Database Associate – DB2 V8.1 Family. It is better to take #700 instead of #512 because it is based on DB2 V8.1. This exam certifies that:
- You have basic SQL knowledge.
- You understand how DB2 UDB is packaged and installed.
- You understand how to create databases and database objects.
- You have a basic knowledge of database security and transaction isolation.
- You have in-depth knowledge of the basic-to-intermediate tasks required in day-to-day administration.
Certified Specialist exam #512 contains a total of 55 questions. Candidates are required to score 55 percent or better to pass the exam and will have 75 minutes to complete the exam. Database Associate exam # 700 contains a total of 54 questions. Candidates are required to score 61 percent or better to pass the exam and will have 75 minutes to complete the exam.
You can become an IBM Certified Application Developer by passing either of the above exams plus one more, exam #703, IBM Certified Application Developer – DB2 Universal Database V8.1 Family. This exam certifies that:
- You have strong skills in all common DB2 programming tasks.
- You have strong skills in one or more of the following specialty areas: embedded SQL programming; ODBC/CLI programming; Java programming.
This certification is ideal for all developers since it touches all development aspects. This exam contains a total of 63 questions. Candidates are required to score 57 percent or better to pass the exam and will have 75 minutes to complete the exam.
Summary of the Exam Process
- Visit Prometric Web site, www.2test.com. This Web site lists testing locations and you can sign up for exams online. Alternatively, you can also call (800) 959-3926 to schedule an exam.
- Show up at your scheduled exam time with two forms of picture identification.
- These tests are not open-book, and no notes are allowed inside. You will also be asked to leave your cell phone and pagers outside.
- You’ll get scratch sheets and a pencil and will be assigned a PC on-site.
- The test is a standardized, multiple-choice interface. Most questions have one answer, but some have more than one answer. The question will tell you how many answers are correct.
- The exam also allows you to mark questions so you can come back to hard questions later or review answers that you guessed.
- When you finish the test, the system tells you if you passed the test or not. You can print the test report at that point. This report shows how well you did in each section of the test. This report will be stamped by the testing center.
- IBM has stopped mailing paper certificates. You will receive an e-mail containing your certificate as a .pdf file and certification logo in various graphic formats.
What Should I Study?
The IBM certification Web site lists “recommended education resources” for each exam. See Table 1 for links to IBM recommended resources for each exam discussed in this article.
IBM recommends two approaches: tutor approach and self-study approach. Experienced developers can most likely just follow the self-study approach. IBM’s self-study approach lists several books for each certification. Below is the approach I used for studying, which I believe can work for most developers. Depending on your experience with DB2, you may need to read more or less than I did.
#512 Study Resources
- “DB2 Fundamentals Certification for Dummies” by Zikopoulos, Gibbs and Melnyk.
- Cramsession Guide, available at studyguides.cramsession.com/cramsession/IBM/DB2_512.
- Free IBM tutorial at www7b.boulder.ibm.com/dmdd/library/tutorials/db2cert/db2cert_tut.html.
Developers may find the idea of reading a “Dummies” book beneath their dignity, but in my opinion this is the best book for this exam. This book has chapters mapped to certification objectives and has an accompanying CD with practice tests. The good thing about these practice tests is that they tell you which answer is wrong or right and why. The level of difficulty of the tests on the CD is about the same as real exam. This is a good certification book that has come in handy for me as a reference book after the certification also. In addition to this book, I also used the Cramsession study guide. This guide can serve as good revision material. Although these resources were more than enough for me to pass the exam, I also recommend taking a look at the free tutorial from IBM.
#700 Study Resources
I have not taken exam #700. I took the exam #512, and looking at the objectives, I believe that not much has changed since #512, and most of the resources for #512 should still be helpful.
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