Dear Certmag: Try Contract Work, Other Certs as Alternatives to Oracle 8i
I have a master’s degree in information technology. However, I have no experience. During my time in school I took a class on Oracle 8i, but I never earned the certifications. Is 8i still a valid certification?
This is another form of the classic question facing many college graduates as they enter the information technology industry: “I have a great set of classroom credentials, but without experience it’s hard to get that first job.”
To that, I think you are adding the question of technical currency with Oracle 8i. To answer the second piece, yes, Oracle 8i still is in use in some companies, particularly large firms that have a slower cycle rate of moving to new software platforms. Is it the latest product version and certification? No. But depending on the employer or customer, it is still a possible credential to approach your employer with in order to assist in establishing your knowledge of the platform. You may want to consider more recent releases such as Oracle 9i (released in 2001), Oracle 10g (released in 2003) or Oracle 11g (released in 2007). The key difference here is that the newer versions use grid computing, in which the application-hosting infrastructure takes a more multi-server-aware, parallelized approach to processing, storage and indexing. The significant architectural and design improvements since the 8i version may necessitate extended study on your part to ensure you can adequately address the administration needs of a modern enterprise. Looping back to the first piece of your question, you also should bolster your practical experience in any way you can to make yourself a more competitive candidate. Your best opportunity may be to consider contract work related to the Oracle platform, as the hiring bar for contract positions often is lower than for long-term positions. You can move into contract positions on the strength of your master’s degree and prior Oracle classwork. These contract positions may not afford you the long-term job security you are seeking. However, they can be parlayed into a resume of brief experiences that reinforce your updated platform study and position you to enter the industry at a level more commensurate with your education.
Oracle’s 8i was released almost 10 years ago. The latest version, 11g, was released in July 2007. The jump from 8i to 9i brought 400 new features, the jump from 8i to 11g brought even more.
While Oracle 8i extended support ended in December 2006, it is still covered by Oracle’s sustaining support, so there may be a few companies still running that version. However, that version of support does not include any new updates, fixes, security alerts or critical patch updates, nor does it include any new tax, legal or regulatory updates or new upgrade scripts. For this reason, most companies are thinking of, if not already in the process of migrating to a newer version.
If you are considering Oracle certification, version 9 is the earliest available, but I would strongly recommend looking at either version 10 or 11.
As not everyone uses Oracle, there are other DBA certifications to consider, as well. These include:
- Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA) for SQL 2000. The exams for this credential get discontinued at the end of March, but the credential remains valid.
- Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) for SQL 2005 and 2008.
- Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) for SQL 2005 and 2008. This would be the replacement for the MCDBA.
- MySQL certifications. These range from entry level to developer and administrator level. “