Best DBA certification?
January 15, 2008 10:26 AM   Subscribe

What DBA certification should I pursue? MS, Oracle, something else?

I am a stay at home mom. Before the birth of my daugther, four years ago, I worked in various simple IT jobs. I made a few websites with Postgresql backends and I think I would like to be a DBA.

I want to stay home for at least another year, and would like to get some certifications or diploma's in the meantime, to show prospective employers that I am motivated to learn and understand at least the basic concepts to hire me as an entry level database person. I understand that there is no substitute for experience, but I do have my websites and (at least where I live) people with completely unrelated college educations are hired in these positions as well, so it does seem possible. Unfortunately, I do not have a college degree, so I will have to work a little harder to convince prospective employers that I am smart enough.

My budget for these certifications or diploma's is about 1000 euro's for both exams and course materials (I study well through self study), which unfortunately rules out an Oracle OCP certification, because they require a hands-on course that is expensive (even the online instructor led courses are very expensive).

I consider the following options and would like to hear your opinion about them. If there is another option I should consider I would like to hear it too, but please realise that the budget limit is not very flexible at the moment and that it is very important that the certificate impresses potential employers at least enough to want to talk to me. I thought about Brainbench, but I don't think they are well known enough with HR people at the moment. There are no community colleges with inexpensive options where I live.

- Get an Oracle OCA Certifaction and take the exams for the OCP, just not the hands on course. I could mention on my CV that I passed the 1Z0-042 and 1Z0-043 exams. Knowledgeable HR persons will hopefully see the value in this and understand that all they have to do is send me to a course and I'll be an OCP.
- Get an MCITP: Database Developer (the successor of MSDBA) certificate. This would allow me to get a full "real" certificate by self study.
- Get entry level certificates for both. OCA (exam 1Z0-042) for Oracle and MS Certified Technology Specialist for SQL Server (exam 70-431). This would hopefully show prospective employers that I am able to and like to learn new technologies and that they could have me get further certificates.

I don't have a personal preference for either Oracle or MS SQL server. I am comfortable with command line tools and both Windows and Linux. If money wasn't a problem, I think I would choose Oracle, perhaps because I somehow (perhaps unfairly) think that MS certifications aren't worth all that much. The most important consideration for me is what will get me a good job. It seems that Oracle DBA's are more in demand than MS DBA's, but I wonder if just getting those two exams would be enough to get me hired. I will of course also start using the database I end up studying for in some projects so that I have at least some experience with that database to show.

I searched and read these previous questions

I am in the Netherlands, but I would like my certificates to be valuable in the rest of the world as well.
posted by davar to Education (3 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I can't speak much to the value of a DBA cert. I worked as a DBA (informix, then oracle) for 12 years, and never had one, but I did have a BS in Info Systems, and more importantly, a job at a DB vendor on my resume. When I'm involved in hiring a DBA, I don't look at certs, I look at job experience, but I also have never been hiring for an entry level position.
From the MS vs Oracle standpoint, it's important to realize that they often serve different markets. If you get an Oracle cert, you're almost certain to be looking at jobs from larger companies, with a full IT system in place. Your MS cert will open doors at a lot of smaller places, places where IT is just the guy you bought the machine from.
posted by nomisxid at 11:00 AM on January 15, 2008

I can say I share your concern about the worth of MS certifications. I think this is mostly the case because the market has been over saturated with MS Certified "techs" that still really had no idea what they were doing due to lack of experience.

I'm not sure about Oracle's health overseas, which from your description sounds surprisingly good...if only for the fact that there is a big shortage of Oracle DBAs that you could capitalize on. I would choose Oracle if I was in your shoes since the cert seems to carry more clout as well. But of course, getting job related experience should be your #1 priority for your resume, even if you start small.

If going the Oracle route, does PeopleSoft interest you? There are some good jobs out there for people experienced with both platforms.
posted by samsara at 11:16 AM on January 15, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks nomisxid and samsara. I think that I will probably start with a big company, because I don't think a small company will have entry level positions for these jobs. I have worked in both small and large companies and do not have a preference, though I do not think I would be happy long term in a large IT organization. I prefer a large "normal" company or a government organization.

I looked through the major job boards and see that most of the database related jobs ask for Oracle. Is this not true for other countries? I do not see myself working in the US at this point, but I would like to go for a technology that is widely used, though of course I realize that nothing is certain in IT and that I can always switch to another technology.

PeopleSoft does sound interesting. My very first databases were tiny CRM systems (in MS Access) for small organizations. As a former secretary who used to do everything in spreadsheets, I was so enthusiastic about the possibilities of databases. I'll be sure to remember PeopleSoft if it comes to that, thanks.
posted by davar at 4:58 PM on January 15, 2008

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