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Oracle Certification Guide: Overview and Career Paths

Oracle Certification Guide: Overview and Career Paths

Oracle offers a multitude of hardware and software solutions designed to simplify and empower IT. Perhaps best known for its premier database software, the company also offers cloud solutions, servers, engineered systems, storage and more. Oracle has more than 430,000 customers in 175 countries, about 138,000 employees and exceeds $37.7 billion in revenue.

Over the years, Oracle has developed an extensive certification program. Today, it includes six certification levels that span nine different categories with more than 200 individual credentials. Considering the depth and breadth of this program, and the number of Oracle customers, it's no surprise that Oracle certifications are highly sought after.

Oracle's certification program is divided into these nine primary categories:

  • Oracle Applications
  • Oracle Cloud
  • Oracle Database
  • Oracle Enterprise Management
  • Oracle Industries
  • Oracle Java and Middleware
  • Oracle Operating Systems
  • Oracle Systems
  • Oracle Virtualization

Additionally, Oracle's credentials are offered at six certification levels:

  • Junior Associate
  • Associate
  • Professional
  • Master
  • Expert
  • Specialist

Most Oracle certification exams are proctored, cost $245, and contain a mix of scored and unscored multiple-choice questions. Candidates may take proctored exams at Pearson VUE, although some exams are offered at Oracle Testing Centers in certain locations. Some exams, such as Oracle Database 12c: SQL Fundamentals (1Z0-061) and Oracle Database 11g: SQL Fundamentals (1Z0-051), are also available non-proctored and may be taken online. Non-proctored exams cost $125. Check the Oracle University Certification website for details on specific exams.

The Oracle Applications certification category offers more than 60 individual credentials across 13 products or product groups, such as Siebel, E-Business Suite, Hyperion, JD Edwards EnterpriseOne and PeopleSoft. The majority of these certifications confer Certified Implementation Specialist for some specific application, with various Certified Expert credentials also available. The Application certifications aim at individuals with expertise in selling and implementing specific Oracle solutions.

Oracle's newest certification category is Oracle Cloud, which covers Java Cloud as well as a number of Oracle Cloud certifications, including Oracle Database Cloud. Cloud certs fall into seven sub-categories:

  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS), including Data Management, Application Development, Management Cloud and Mobile Cloud Service
  • Software as a Service (SaaS) – Oracle Customer Experience Cloud, including Service, Sales, Marketing and CPQ Cloud
  • Software as a Service – Oracle Performance Management Cloud, including Performance Reporting, Enterprise Planning and Budgeting, Financial Consolidation and Close, Profitability and Cost Management Cloud
  • Software as a Services – Oracle Enterprise Resource Planning Cloud, including Financials, Project Portfolio Management, Procurement and Risk Management Cloud
  • Software as a Service – Oracle Human Capital Management Cloud, including Workforce Rewards, Payroll, Talent Management and Global Human Resources Cloud
  • Software as a Service – Oracle Supply Chain Management Cloud, including Order Management, Product Master Data Management, Product Lifecycle Management, Manufacturing, Inventory Management, Supply Chain Planning and Logistics Cloud

These credentials recognize individuals who deploy applications, perform administration or deliver customer solutions in the cloud. Credentials mostly include Associate and Certification Implementation Specialists, with one Mobile Developer credential offered plus a professional-level Oracle Database Cloud Administrator.

Certifications in Oracle's Database category are geared toward individuals who develop or work with Oracle databases. There are three main categories: Database Application Development, MySQL and Oracle Database.

Note: Oracle Database 12c was redesigned for cloud computing (and is included in both the Cloud and Database certification categories). The current version is Oracle Database 12c R2, which contains additional enhancements for in-memory databases and multitenant architectures. MySQL 5.6 has been optimized for performance and storage, so it can handle bigger data sets.

Whenever a significant version of either database is released, Oracle updates its certifications exams over time. If an exam isn't available for the latest release, candidates can take a previous version of the exam and then an updated exam when it becomes available. Though MySQL 5.6 certifications and exams are still available for candidates supporting that version, the new MySQL 5.7 certification track may be more appropriate for those just starting on their MySQL certification journeys.

Oracle currently offers the Oracle Database Foundations Certified Junior Associate, Oracle Certified Associate (OCA), Oracle Certified Professional (OCP), Oracle Certified Master (OCM), Oracle Certified Expert (OCE) and Specialist paths for Oracle Database 12c. In addition, Oracle offers the OCA credential for Oracle Database 12c R2 and an upgrade path for the OCP credential. Because many of these certifications are also popular within the Oracle Certification Program, we provide additional exam details and links in the following sections.

The Oracle Enterprise Manager Certification path offers candidates the opportunity to demonstrate their skills in application, middleware, database and storage management. The Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Certified Implementation Specialist exam (1Z0-457) certifies a candidate's expertise in physical, virtual and cloud environments, as well as design, installation, implementation, reporting, and support of Oracle Enterprise Manager.

The Oracle Database Foundation Certified Junior Associate credential targets those who've participated in the Oracle Academy through a college or university program, computer science and database teachers, and individuals studying databases and computer science. As a novice-level credential, the Certified Junior Associate is intended for individuals with limited hands-on experience working on Oracle Database products. To earn this credential, candidates must pass the Oracle Database Foundations (novice-level exam) (1Z0-006).

The OCA certification measures the day-to-day operational management database skills of DBAs. Candidates must pass a SQL exam and another on Oracle Database administration. Candidates can choose one of the following SQL exams:

  • Oracle Database 12c SQL (1Z0-071)
  • Oracle Database 12c: SQL Fundamentals (1Z0-061) NOTE: This exam will be retired on November 30, 2019.

Candidates must also pass the Oracle Database 12c: Installation and Administration (1Z0-062) exam.

To earn the Oracle Database 12cR2 OCA credential, candidates must first earn either the Oracle Database SQL Certified Associate, Oracle Database 11g Administrator Certified Associate, or the Oracle Database 12c Administrator Certified Associate.  In addition, candidates are required to pass the Oracle Database 12cR2 Administration exam (1Z0-072).

The OCP certification covers more advanced database skills. You must have the OCA Database 12c Administrator certification, complete the required training, submit a course submission form and pass the Oracle Database 12c: Advanced Administration (1Z0-063) exam.

Professionals who possess either the Oracle Database 11g Administrator Certified Professional or Oracle Database 12c Administrator Certified Professional credential may upgrade to the Oracle Database 12cR2 Administration Certified Professional credential by passing the Oracle DBA upgrade exam (1Z0-074).

To achieve OCM Database 12c Administrator certification, you must have the OCP Database 12c Administrator certification, complete two advanced courses, and pass the Oracle Database 12c Certified Master Exam (12cOCM), complete the course submission form, and submit the Fulfillment Kit request.

Oracle also offers the Oracle Database 12c Maximum Availability Certified Master certification, which requires three separate credentials, including the Oracle Database 12c Administrator Certified Master, Oracle Certified Expert, Oracle Database 12c-RAC and Grid Infrastructure Administration, and Oracle Certified Expert, Oracle Database 12c – Data Guard Administration.

The OCE Database 12c certifications include Maximum Availability, Data Guard Administrator, RAC and Grid Infrastructure Administrator, and Performance Management and Tuning credentials. All these certifications involve prerequisite certifications. Performance Management and Tuning takes the OSP Database 12c as a prerequisite and the Data Guard Administrator certification requires the OCP Database 12c credential. The RAC and Grid Infrastructure Administrator provides candidates the most flexibility, allowing candidates to choose from the OCP Database 11g, OCP Databases 12c, Oracle Certified Expert – Real Application Clusters 11g and Grid Infrastructure Administration.

Once the prerequisite credentials are earned, candidates can then achieve Data Guard Administrator, RAC and Grid Infrastructure Administrator or Performance Management and Tuning by passing one exam. Achieving OCP 12c plus the RAC and Grid Infrastructure Administration and Data Guard Administration certifications earns the Maximum Availability credential.

Oracle also offers three Certified Implementation Specialist credentials: the Oracle Real Application Clusters 12c, Oracle Database Performance and Tuning 2015, and Oracle Database 12c. Specialist credentials target individuals with a background in selling and implementing Oracle solutions. Each of these credentials requires candidates to pass a single exam to earn the designation.

Oracle Industries is another sizable category, with more than 25 individual certifications focused on Oracle software for the construction and engineering, communications, health sciences, insurance, tax and utilities industries. All these certifications recognize Certified Implementation Specialists for the various Oracle industry products, which means they identify individuals proficient in implementing and selling industry-specific Oracle software.

The Java and Middleware certifications span several subcategories, such as Business Intelligence, Application Server, Cloud Application, Data Integration, Identity Management, Mobile, Java, Oracle Fusion Middleware Development Tools and more. Java and Middleware credentials represent all levels of the Oracle Certification Program – Associate, Professional and so on – and include Java Developer, Java Programmer, System Administrator, Architect and Implementation Specialist.

The highly popular Java category has certifications for Java SE (Standard Edition), and Java EE (Enterprise Edition) and Web Services. Several Java certifications that require a prior certification accept either the corresponding Sun or Oracle credential.

The Oracle Operating Systems certifications include Linux and Solaris. These certifications are geared toward administrators and implementation specialists.

The Linux 6 certifications include OCA and OCP Linux 6 System Administrator certifications, as well as an Oracle Linux Certified Implementation Specialist certification. The Linux 6 Specialist is geared to partners but is open to all candidates. Both the Linux OCA and Specialist credentials require a single exam. To achieve the OCP, candidates must first earn either the OCA Linux 5 or 6 System Administrator or OCA Linux Administrator (now retired) credential, plus pass an exam.

The Solaris 11 certifications include the OCA and OCP System Administrator certifications plus an Oracle Solaris 11 Installation and Configuration Certified Implementation Specialist certification. The OCA and OCP Solaris 11 System Administrator certifications identify Oracle Solaris 11 administrators who have a fundamental knowledge of and base-level skills with the UNIX operating system, commands, and utilities. As indicated by its name, the Implementation Specialist cert identifies intermediate-level implementation team members who install and configure Oracle Solaris 11.

Oracle Systems certifications include Engineered Systems (Big Data Appliance, Exadata, Exalogic Elastic Cloud, Exalytics, and Private Cloud Appliance), Servers (Fujitsu and SPARC) and Storage (Oracle ZFS, Pillar Axiom, Tape Storage, Flash Storage System). Most of these certifications aim at individuals who sell and implement one of the specific solutions. The Exadata certification subcategory also includes Oracle Exadata X3, X4 and X5 Expert Administrator certifications for individuals who administer, configure, patch, and monitor the Oracle Exadata Database Machine platform.

The Virtualization certifications cover Oracle Virtual Machine (VM) Server for X86. This credential is based on Oracle VM 3.0 for X86, and recognizes individuals who sell and implement Oracle VM solutions.

The Oracle VM 3.0 for x86 Certified Implementation Specialist Certification aim at intermediate-level team members proficient in installing OVM 3.0 Server and OVM 3.0 Manager components, discovering OVM Servers, configuring network and storage repositories and more.

The sheer breadth and depth of Oracle's certification program creates ample opportunities for professionals who want to work with Oracle technologies, or who already do and want their skills recognized and validated. Although there are many specific Oracle products in which to specialize in varying capacities, the main job roles include administrators, architects, programmers/developers and implementation specialists.

Every company that runs Oracle Database, Oracle Cloud, or Oracle Linux or Solaris needs qualified administrators to deploy, maintain, monitor and troubleshoot these solutions. These same companies also need architects to plan and design solutions that meet business needs and are appropriate for the specific environments in which they're deployed, indicating that the opportunities for career advancement in Oracle technologies are abundant.

Job listings and hiring data indicate that programmers and developers continue to be highly sought-after in the IT world. Programming and development skills are some of the most sought-after by hiring managers in 2019, and database administration isn't far behind. A quick search on Indeed results in almost 12,000 hits for "Oracle developer," which is a great indication of both need and opportunity. Not only do developers create and modify Oracle software, they often must know how to design software from the ground up, package products, import data, write scripts and develop reports.

And, of course, Oracle and its partners will always need implementation specialists to sell and deploy the company's solutions. This role is typically responsible for tasks that must be successfully accomplished to get a solution up and running in a client's environment, from creating a project plan and schedule, to configuring and customizing a system to match client specifications.

It's not surprising that Oracle has an extensive library of exam preparation materials. Check the Oracle University website (education.oracle.com) for hands-on instructor-led training, virtual courses, training on demand, exam preparation seminars, practice exams and other training resources.

A candidate's best bet, however, is to first choose a certification path and then follow the links on the Oracle website to the required exam(s). If training is recommended or additional resources are available for a particular exam, Oracle lists them on the exam page.

Another great resource is the Oracle Learning Paths webpage, which provides a lengthy list of Oracle product-related job roles and their recommended courses.

Ed Tittel
Ed is a 30-year-plus veteran of the computing industry. He has worked as a programmer, technical manager, classroom instructor, network consultant and a technical evangelist for companies that include Burroughs, Schlumberger, Novell, IBM/Tivoli and NetQoS. He has written for numerous publications, including Tom's IT Pro, and is the author of more than 140 computing books on information security, web markup languages and development tools, and Windows operating systems.

Earl Follis
Earl is also a 30-year veteran of the computer industry, who worked in IT training, marketing, technical evangelism, and market analysis in the areas of networking and systems technology and management. Ed and Earl met in the late 1980s when Ed hired Earl as a trainer at an Austin-area networking company that's now part of HP. The two of them have written numerous books together on NetWare, Windows Server and other topics. Earl is also a regular writer for the computer trade press with many e-books, white papers and articles to his credit.