Will Oracle certifications earn me a lot of money?

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Since Certification Magazine launched its annual Salary Survey a few weeks ago, this article seemed timely. I have lost count of how many times I’ve seen this question or some variant of it raised on a discussion forum or LinkedIn group. Generally, the person asking is just graduating college or is looking to change jobs and wants to know whether getting an Oracle certification will dramatically increase their earning potential.

Can certifications boost my income potential?I have been an Oracle Certified Professional since the beginning of the program. Since January of 1998, I have passed 22 exams and currently hold 15 Oracle certifications (many of which are upgrades to later releases). I can tell you with absolute certainty that the answer to this article’s title question is a resounding, “No.” Oracle certifications will never earn you a dime. Moreover, I also hold Linux+ and Security+ certifications and have been a Certified NetWare Engineer and Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (both long since lapsed). I can assure you that none of those credentials will make you any money either.

Dozens of times over the years since I earned those certifications, I have pleaded with them to get out of the house and search for a job. Every single time they just sit there in the filing cabinet like so many pieces of dead tree pulp. The sad truth is that if you want to earn a lot of money, then you will have to get a job and do it on your own.

I cannot say whether anyone will find the above punch line funny. I know that it would be more amusing to me if I did not have a nagging mental picture of a reader with no work experience who has just become a Oracle Database 11g Administrator Certified Associate. I envision them reading that paragraph and saying something like: “Very funny … now when does this article get to the part about how to land a job with a six-figure salary now that I have this certificate?”

In my experience, there is a lack of perspective in the expectations some people have for the power of Oracle certifications to alter their career and earning prospects. College students spend $50,000 and four years earning a university degree in the hope that they might find a job starting at $50,000 per year when they graduate. Certification candidates spend $500 and a few months to become Oracle Certified Associates and many expect to make $70-80,000 per year once the certificate arrives in their mailbox.

Just in case anyone is getting the idea that I do not feel Oracle certifications have any value — recall the counts from the second paragraph: 22 exams and 15 certifications. Either I believe they have value or I have a strange addiction to certification exams. Each one that I pursue consumes a significant chunk of my leisure time. For that matter, I have other things to spend money on than exam fees. What I hope to convey is the need to take certification exams for the right reasons and to have realistic expectations of the effect they can have on your career.

I have been working with Oracle for close to 19 years. My income has been rising fairly steadily through most of that period. What I am paid now would almost certainly meet the definition of ‘a lot of money’ by most people asking the question imbedded in the article title. What I was making 18 years ago, however, almost certainly would not have met their definition. In fact, when I first started working with Oracle Corporation on their support team, I took a pay cut to do so. I felt that the job I was leaving behind at the time had no future (a wise move, as that company no longer exists). I was sure that learning about the Oracle database would result in decades of employment. Taking a pay cut was the best career move I ever made.

The salary for any possible job that you might select for a career will have floor and ceiling values. For a cashier in a fast food restaurant, the two are very close together and very low. When a position requires more expertise, either physical or mental, both values will be higher. Working as an Oracle database administrator requires a considerable amount of knowledge. This makes the floor and ceiling values fairly high and they are also quite far apart. What moves someone up from the floor value for a given job is how skilled or knowledgeable they are compared with other people in the same field. One of the best ways to become a better DBA is to work as one five days a week for many years. The longer someone is an administrator, the more they learn about how to maintain, diagnose, and tune the Oracle database.

When studying for certification exams, however, novice DBAs (and experienced DBAs to a lesser degree) can learn about aspects of the Oracle database they have not yet encountered during their daily routine. This means that preparing for certification exams will accelerate the process of acquiring knowledge about the database. An Oracle professional who actively works to become better at doing their job will also become more valuable to employers. As you become more skilled, most employers will recognize this and raise your salary accordingly. If you find yourself working for an employer who does not recognize the effort you put into increasing your knowledge, certifications fit really well on resumes. This can help you find an employer who will recognize your skills.

If you become very knowledgeable about the Oracle database — either as a database administrator, or a developer, or via one of the Oracle Applications tracks, then you should be able to find an employer willing to pay for that knowledge. Certifications are not the only way to gain that knowledge, but they are a very visible way to gain it because you get professional recognition for having completed them. Certifications may not be able to earn you money directly, but used wisely, they can certainly help you to earn more over the course of your career.

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Matthew Morris


Matthew Morris is an experienced DBA and developer. He holds Oracle DBA Certifications for every Oracle release from 7 through 12c; Expert certifications for SQL, SQL Tuning, and Application Express; and is an Oracle PL/SQL Developer Certified Professional. He is the author of more than 20 study guides for Oracle certification exams, as well as a suite of Oracle practice tests that are available at ocpexam.com.

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16 thoughts on “Will Oracle certifications earn me a lot of money?”

  1. Hi
    I am an IT professional with 18 years of Industry experience in development and implementation of ERP applications . I am looking to change my career path in Oracle Financial Applications as functional or implementation consultant.
    Will Oracle Certification help me in getting a job in Oracle Financials ?

    Any suggestions please ?

  2. I have a b-tech degree in computer science and engineering masters in information Technology and software Engineering with an oracle certification but not experienced. Due to family issues I had since 2016, and still on it but want to move on, I need a company I can work for at the same time expose me to the job, while I complete my maters degree, where can I apply? Thanks

  3. This author, the article, and most of the comments here are pure bullshit in justifying the systematic locking out potential talent via “experience” requirements. No wonder Oracle is losing ground steadily.

  4. I want to know course fees of oracle certification in Supply chain Management and also i want to know how much salary i will be gettingafter completion of certificate.

  5. I recently completed my comp science degree. Will an Oracle certification in SQL help me to land a good job?
    In your opinion, how does the future look for this field?

  6. I’m interested in becoming certified as an Oracle professional d like to learn Oracle, but I’m not sure what direction to go. I’ve seen different versions 7 … up to 12c and Oracle server applications, Oracle Database Administrator, Oracle Internet .. Basically I have knowledge on SQL and PL/SQL and I want to learn further … please guide me.

    • Srinivas,

      Becoming an Oracle certified professional is a laudable goal, and one that will certainly help you advance in your career.

      As for specific guidance, we suggest you follow up with Oracle. Their website contains a while lot more guidance and information that we could ever hope to match. Whatever your choice, Oracle is a good one!

  7. I just graduated from high school. If I complete and oracle certification, will I be able to get a job?

    • Mohammed,

      Congratulations on finishing high-school. You are on the right track considering certification as a tool to help you land a job. An Oracle cert is certainly a good one to have and they are in demand by employers. We suggest you do some research as to which certification you might want to pursue. Talk to established It professionals and get their input on selecting the cert that is right for you.

      Best of luck in your job search and thanks for reading.

  8. I plan to pursue Oracle Java exams for the OCA and OCP credentials plus two Java EE certifications. After earning these credentials, I plan to develop some live Java projects.


    Please answer, my career is at stake.

  9. I couldn’t agree more. Oracle certs do not require proof of job history. The best I can say about them is that I did learn more about some topics related to being a DBA, while studying, that I don’t often encounter. Gaining my certification did not get me anymore money, but might get my resume looked at more easily by a prospective employer should I decide to leave my current employer.

  10. Hello My Name is Nikhil, I am in Last year Computer science can i get the job without an Oracle certification…

    • Nikhil,

      Thanks for your question and for reading. Experience is still invaluable, and while it’s certainly possible to find a good job without a certification, we believe that possession of a recognized and valued cert can and does make a difference in moving your resume to the top of a potential employer’s pile.

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