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OT: Database Certificate == 'Good Career Move'?

by jerrygarciuh (Curate)
on Nov 26, 2002 at 23:04 UTC ( #215962=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Hola monqueros,
I am contemplating dropping about $5400 over 2 years on a Advanced Postbaccalaureate Certificate for Database Systems Professionals at Tulane. The coursework is listed below. I am doing well enough as a self-taught independent contractor but Zeke will be off to school in 2+ years and I may want to be more employable as a pro. I wish to keep learning as well. And I want to create not administrate. And I want to be a part of the open source community and shun the Evil Empire.

I have an M. Ed. with a 4.0 from UNO and 2 BAs from William and Mary but all my tech-fu has been self taught on an as-needed basis.

I would very much like advice on how best to pursue programming and database design primarily for web use for both wisdom and profit.

Coursework list:

8 courses: Problem Solving with PL/SQL, Problem Solving with Developer/Forms, Files and Data Structures, Database Management, Database Administration, Client/Server Database Application Development; and any two of the following : Advanced Database Administration, Information Engineering, Data Warehousing. _____________________________________________________
"The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods.
The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Comment on OT: Database Certificate == 'Good Career Move'?

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Re: OT: Database Certificate == 'Good Career Move'?
by dws (Chancellor) on Nov 27, 2002 at 05:19 UTC
    I may want to be more employable as a pro. I wish to keep learning as well. And I want to create not administrate.

    There are many ways to be more employable. A Certificate program might be the way to go, but it isn't the only way to go. What do employers in your area look for? Academic Certificates? Vendor Certifications? Experience?

    With a bit of discipline (and part of that $5400), you could do quite a bit of self-paced study, including hands-on work on your own home database box(es). Start with the (vendor-independent) basics. Ask around for a good book that covers the basics of relational databases, including the various normal forms and the basics of SQL. From there you can branch out.

    Since you want to work on the Open Source side, consider working your way through the MySQL Cookbook. Set up mod_perl and do a practice system that uses connection pooling. Volunteer to work on an Open Source project. Write. If you get proficient to the point of getting meaningful articles published, you'll get noticed.

Re: OT: Database Certificate == 'Good Career Move'?
by Ryszard (Priest) on Nov 27, 2002 at 12:15 UTC
    I may want to be more employable as a pro. I wish to keep learning as well. And I want to create not administrate.

    When interviewing potential candidates for technical work, I'm looking for experience, projects delivered, application of knowledge, solutions designed and problems solved...

    What I'm not specifically looking for is accredited education, i've come across too many people who have done every course under the sun, but cant apply much of what is learned in the real world. So what i'm after is someone who can get a job done, with or without the formal qualifications. IMO, Nothing can replace real world experience. You never learn so much about a system until it breaks and you have to fix it

    As I have a detailed understanding of what it takes, the interview can be taylored for each candidate, specific technology questions asked to determine if this person is more suited than another.

    Having said all that, course accreditation can be worthwhile. One difference in doing a course and not doing a course is the rate in which you learn (generally speaking). You may be a senior DBA, but have taken 15 years to get there, or thru' courses, application of knowledge and continued study it make only take 5 years...

    Of course these are general statements, as people can often pick stuff up, and just "know it" without the formal education side, and the other extreme, where all the courses in the world will never make you a brain surgen.

    A tip, if you want to be a creator, and move from the coding floor to project work, IMHO project management skills could be an area where a course may come in handy (in the case you need it). Good project managers that have the ability to inspire the team, push issues thru' management, hit deadlines and satisfy customers are difficult to find... (at least in my small part of the world.)

      If I would be hiring a programmer I would be most interested in his code. Not what cool sites/programs did he work on, what cool pages does he have to show but ... is his code readable? Does he handle errors carefully? Is the application multi-user safe? (Sure , you can't prove it is, but sometimes it's dead easy to see it is not.) If something breaks does the admin/developer get enough information to find and fix the problem?

      Show me your code and I know who you are.


      P.S.: I've seen quite a few webbased applications that appeared to be working ... but only because the author ignored all errors and reported success even if the action blew up and because we were lucky and the race condition did not happen just as we were looking.

      A great example was the project I'm spending most of my time now when we got it to fix and extend. Stored procedures did not care whether their commands succeeded, middle tier ignored errors comming from the database, ASPs ignored errors from the middle tier, most variable names were just one letter, ...

      And the multiuser safety? Well ... there was a table with an Identity field (MS SQL, autogenerated ID), instead of inserting the row and getting the generated ID they

      1. connected to the DB
      2. fetched the max(ID)
      3. disconnected
      4. incremented it (in the ASP!)
      5. did some unrelated stuff to increase the likelihood of problems
      6. connected to the DB
      7. tried to forcefully insert the new row with this ID (using SET IDENTITY_INSERT ON)
      8. disconnected
      9. ignored the result of the action and reported success

      I could not kill them ... they were too far.

Re: OT: Database Certificate == 'Good Career Move'?
by mpeppler (Vicar) on Nov 27, 2002 at 16:28 UTC
    I'd say that a Certificate could be a good thing. The one thing that I find less than optimal about the course work is that it appears to be very Oracle centric. Granted, Oracle is probably the most common database server used on large systems, but MS-SQL is also very common, and is quite different from Oracle in terms of writing SQL procedures, triggers, etc, and of course for any administration tasks.

    Then you have the Open Source database servers (MySQL, Postgres) that are quite common in smaller shops and in web based environments. If that's the area where you think you might be working then you should probably familiarize yourself with these products as well.


Re: OT: Database Certificate == 'Good Career Move'?
by Anonymous Monk on Nov 26, 2002 at 23:12 UTC
    Problem Solving with PL/SQL
    That should read "Problem Solving Despite PL/SQL"
Re: OT: Database Certificate == 'Good Career Move'?
by talexb (Chancellor) on Nov 27, 2002 at 21:20 UTC

    I would suggest combining the Do It Yourself projects already suggested with an occasional course on something appropriate. When I was in a hiring position a few years back, a certification didn't mean much to me (I was hiring C/Pascal programmers). It's somewhat meaningless, like XP. What is important is what projects you've taken on, how you approached them, and what you learned. If you can talk intelligently about that in a conversation (don't think about it as a job interview), you're set.

    --t. alex
    but my friends call me T.
Re: OT: Database Certificate == 'Good Career Move'?
by jerrygarciuh (Curate) on Dec 02, 2002 at 17:17 UTC
    Thanks very much for your considered comments. I will meditate on these!
    "The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods.
    The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.
    ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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