DBA Evolution: Oracle Database 10g Certification

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Over the past several years, changes in the global economy and the related impact on information technology have created a new set of operational challenges for organizations and the employees who support their IT infrastructures. Additionally, there is a growing reliance on technology to perform critical and complex business functions. As a result, organizations have less tolerance for system-related issues and downtime (and the associated costs), and support staff has broader responsibility and increasingly rigid schedules. These changes have created time constraints on IT professionals, making it difficult for them to find time to stay current on new technologies and tools. In addition, shrinking training budgets have made it even tougher to acquire necessary training and credentials.

While these may seem like insurmountable obstacles, Oracle University seized the opportunity and radically redefined database training and its associated accreditations, thereby enabling IT professionals to get the training they need at a price they can afford. How? By recognizing that the database administrator (DBA) of today has evolved from the DBA of the past.

The Oracle DBA of today may manage all aspects of the database for a large multinational corporation with many terabytes of data in multiple databases or be responsible for managing a mid-sized company’s database of only several gigabytes of data. Both of these individuals are Oracle DBAs and need the same set of core skills, but ultimately, their training needs are different. Once they have fundamental skills, specialized training, based on their specific sets of responsibilities for their individual organizations, is required. This individual training may be quite specialized, such as identity management or grid control, or more general, such as high availability. Oracle University adjusted its 10g training program accordingly. The result is a streamlined offering that leverages the automated features of Oracle Database 10g with classroom theory, hands-on labs and testing.

Oracle Database 10g and Oracle Database 10g Certification
According to a product review in the Nov. 1, 2004 edition of CRN magazine, Oracle Database 10g is by far the most sophisticated database on the market today. Oracle Database 10g is the first database designed for enterprise grid computing. It allows IT organizations to respond rapidly to the needs of the business and lower overall risk. Oracle Database 10g allows large enterprises and small businesses alike to make the most efficient use of hardware and IT resources by helping make a critical database less complex to deploy and manage.

Similarly, Oracle University responded to the needs of IT professionals and created a streamlined testing path for its flagship database administrator certification. Candidates are required to pass only two certification exams to become an Oracle Database 10g Administrator Certified Professional. Oracle University provides courses that allow DBAs to prepare for the testing in as little as 10 days.

The Oracle Database 10g certification program enables DBAs to pursue three certification levels, each designed to validate and recognize progressive degrees of competency with Oracle Database 10g concepts, technology and usage.

Oracle Database 10g Administrator Certified Associate (OCA)
Candidates are required to pass one certification exam to earn the Oracle Database 10g OCA. In the Oracle Database 10g: Administration Workshop I, candidates learn and experience important database functions, such as user setup, performance monitoring, database security and backup-and-recovery techniques. The course prepares candidates for the two-hour computer-based exam.

Professionals who earn the Oracle Database 10g OCA credential are taking an important step that can help their IT careers. According to Certification Magazine’s 2004 Salary Survey, Oracle OCAs earn an average of $71,330 (U.S.), one of the highest average salaries among entry-level certifications. The OCA credential is widely recognized, and OCAs have knowledge of important database administration tasks and an understanding of the Oracle database architecture and how its components work and interact. Also, the OCA is a prerequisite to the Oracle Database 10g OCP credential.

Oracle Database 10g Administrator Certified Professional (OCP)
OCAs can accelerate their careers by earning the next level of certification, the Oracle Database 10g OCP credential. The OCP credential helps show employers, peers and the technical community that you are a skilled database professional and are serious about developing your career. An Oracle Database 10g Certified Professional is a database expert who has the skills to set up and manage critical Oracle Database 10g functions and the know-how to keep it running at maximum efficiency.

To earn the OCP credential, candidates first earn the 10g OCA credential, and then pass only one additional exam (#1Z0-043). In addition, in order to gain hands-on and classroom experience, all OCP candidates are required to complete one hands-on course from Oracle University or one of its authorized partners.

Recommended preparation for the exam is the Oracle Database 10g: Administration Workshop II. In this hands-on course, students learn complex database functions critical to keeping the database operational. The course focuses on advanced topics such as RMAN, ASM and Flashback technology. Learning is reinforced with hands-on practice and a workshop. This course provides excellent preparation for the two-hour OCP-level computer-based exam.

By earning the OCP credential, DBA professionals can gain one of the most widely recognized IT certifications in the industry. Obtaining an OCP DBA credential is a real professional accomplishment and can be very rewarding. According to Certification Magazine’s 2004 Salary Survey, OCPs earn an average of $77,510 (U.S.), well above the average reported salary of $67,000 (U.S.). Perhaps more importantly, Oracle Database 10g OCPs are taking an important step to build a lasting career with a highly valued certification in a critical job role.

Special Accreditations
Many professionals who earn an OCP credential go on to obtain advanced database management skills through specialized training and job experience. In an effort to recognize these skills, Oracle University has announced a series of Special Accreditations available to OCPs. The first 10g Special Accreditation will be High Availability. Other topics currently being considered are Data Warehousing, Security and Grid.

Oracle Database Administrator Certified Master (OCM)
In 2003, Oracle released the Oracle Certified Master (OCM) level for its Oracle9i Database Administrator certification track. The prerequisites for this rigorous performance-based certification require candidates to earn an Oracle9i Database OCP credential and complete advanced-level coursework. The final stage requires candidates to prove their skills through an intensive two-day hands-on practical examination. This level of certification is for the Oracle database guru—so far, fewer than 200 professionals have become certified at this level.

Oracle Database 10g Certified Master (OCM) is currently in development and is scheduled to be available soon. Details regarding this certification and upgrade paths will be available on Oracle University’s Web site.

Upgrade From a Previous Version in One Step
Oracle University also has made it efficient for OCPs to upgrade their credential from a previous database version. Oracle 9i Database Certified Professionals can upgrade to the new Oracle Database 10g by passing just one exam (#1Z0-040 ). OCPs with older credentials may skip intervening releases and upgrade to a current technology

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