I graduated with a Masters of IT in 2000. It took me awhile, but I finally decided what type of career I want to have in IT, and that's to become a Systems Analyst, focusing on technologies such as Oracle and Java. Currently I work in the technology department for a large HR consulting company as a Quality Assurance Analyst, with some systems analysis responsibilities. We work in a mainframe environment on my current job (our proprietary applications are developed in COBOL). Mainframe skills aren't very marketable, and it's not where I want to focus. So my questions are:

1) Because I don't have the experience, I want to become certified in Oracle (OCP) in hopes of getting my foot in the door. Do you think getting certified can help me get my foot in the door?

2) Can I become certified without taking these expensive courses? Is it possible to pass the exams with self-study?

3) If so, are there books you recommend for studying for the OCP exams? And I assume that the Oracle applications can be downloaded from the Oracle site for study, correct?

Any advice you give will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

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1) Yes, while not a replacement for experience, the OCP certification will at least show that you have the initiative to learn on your own and that you understand the basic concepts.

2) Yes and No. You can take an Oracle OCA (Oracle Certified Associate) test without formal training, but the OCP requires you to attend an instructor-led course. Here is the official link to Oracle's site that explains the different levels of certification and the requirements for achieving them.

3) You can indeed download the database software from Oracle's technology network site. As for book recommendations, please see my detailed answer on the subject, "What is the best book for Oracle certification?"

This was first published in February 2008

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