What are the Java Certification exams?


Industry certification helps to distinguish skilled software developers from the pack, and to give employers an idea of the skill level of candidates. There's a certain amount of prestige associated with certification (ask anyone who has studied for, and passed a certification exam), and its usually a good measure of skills. Like other vendors (such as Microsoft), Sun Microsystems offers certification for for its flagship - the Java language. This certification is suited to commercial Java programmers and developers.

There are two levels of Java certification available currently, and there are plans to expand into three levels in the future (in conjunction with Netscape and other vendors). Currently, Sun offers the following :-

What does certification involve?

Passing the Sun Certified Java Programmer exam involves answering a series of multiple choice questions. Sound easy enough? There's a little more to it though - you must select ALL the right answers, without missing any or adding extra ones. Often the difference between one answer and another is subtle, and it requires a good understanding of the language and the base Java APIs. There's no reference material allowed, and to make it even tougher, a score of 70% or over is required to pass.

The second level of certification involves an additional programming task. You'll be given specifications, and have to implement the system (involving actual coding). This involves a more extensive coverage of the Java APIs, but there's often more than one way to solve a problem.

Should I sit the exams?

Before attempting either exam, you'd be well advised to pick up an exam guide. Most guides offer sample exams, which give you an idea of the way the questions work. You'd need to have extensive Java experience (programming every day), for a reasonable amount of time. I'd say that you'd need between six months and one year's experience, unless you decided to cram. Coming from someone who has passed the exam, its not an easy thing to do, and re-sitting the exam would be costly. (For the record, I passed first time round!)