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Is Oracle U. for you?

Oracle U. may not be going to a bowl this year, but a "degree" from there could help you score a beefier paycheck.

Dan Newlon of Richland, Mich. wanted to become an Oracle DBA, but he was hesitant about leaving his family to complete courses to become an Oracle Certified Professional.

But Newlon learned about a new Oracle eLearning FastTrack program that requires only two weeks of instruction at Oracle and supplemented with online training and instruction. After 10 weeks of study, Newlon had learned enough to pass the five exams to get his OCP -- and a 7% raise at work.

"It's a very efficient program when you look at the time it takes verses what it costs," Newlon said. "But you need to work very hard. Our beta class was for 10 weeks but they have since changed it to 12 weeks."

Oracle has also expanded its online course offerings. Other FastTrack courses are available for Java Developers, iDS Forms Developers, and Oracle Applications 11i Systems Implementors.

In addition to cost savings for travel and lost work, online courses offer educational advantages, said John Hall, vice president of Oracle University. For example, students have access to a peer-to-peer online community for assistance with problems. Oracle can also use its best instructors for the classes that are Webcast to students.

Online courses are tailored for students' needs and knowledge. For example, students get pre-assessments, so one student may need remedial work while another can skip ahead to the fourth chapter, Hall said.

Oracle has also tweaked its certifications to attract newer IT workers to its certification programs while honoring longtime, highly skilled professionals. Oracle has added two: The Oracle Certified Associate and the Oracle Certified Master. Each certification flanks the existing Oracle Certified Professional designation.

The OCA certification is geared to people new to Oracle technology or for junior DBAs or Web administrators, Hall said. By contrast, the OCM certification will be for a select few professionals who have mastered Oracle technology. A person can get an OCA with Web-based courses, but becoming an OCM requires a mixture of online and traditional training. Additionally, an OCM candidate must pass a practium with Oracle developers.

Associates will see 25% to 30% higher salaries, Hall predicted. OCMs will likely be in the top 1% of salaries or between $175,000 and $200,000. "We only expect to see maybe 1,000 Masters in the first year, about 1% of certified professionals."


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