So why should you get certified? In a word: credibility. Certification certainly isn’t the be all and end all in securing a job, but it can put you over the edge if a prospective employer is considering two similar candidates. The most important advantage any certification provides is the endorsement of an independent third party that says you, in fact, know what you are doing. In a competitive job market, adding a certification to your resume makes you more likely to win out over other candidates, and you’ll probably become even better at your job in the process.

That’s the qualitative advantage, but there are also quantitative differences. In North America, certified individuals earn 7.5% higher salaries than those without certifications. Worldwide the difference is even greater, with 14% higher salaries for certified employees.

The first certification step

The Associate Certification is the first certification offered by Oracle for Database Administrators. To achieve the certification, you only need to pass two exams. First, you have to pass one of the following three exams:

1. 1Z0-007 Introduction to Oracle9i SQL (2 Hour Test, 71% Passing Score)

This exam tests your ability to create, retrieve, maintain, and manipulate data and database objects. You must understand the concepts of relational and object relational databases. Becoming proficient with SQL programming language is vital as you will be demonstrating the ability to write and read SQL statements.

What are the questions like?

This multiple choice test asks situational questions with numerous parts as well as standard “which of the following” type questions.

1Z0-047 Oracle Database SQL Expert (2 Hour Test, 66% Passing Score)

This exam covers everything in 1Z0-007 but at the expert level. You must also master the object and system level queries, manipulations, and control privileges. There are 76 topics covered in this exam and you must be comfortable with all of them.

What are the questions like?

Most of the questions will test your experience with SQL and the depth at which you understand each topic. To answer multiple part questions you will need to integrate concepts and demonstrate that you know the correct processes. Simply memorizing answers will not be enough to pass this exam.

1Z0-051 Oracle Database 11g: SQL Fundamentals (2 Hour Test, 60% Passing Score)

This exam is eight years newer than 1Z0-007. They test for most of the same content, only 1Z0-051 is fresher content geared towards the newer Oracle 11G database. In addition to the 1Z0-007 topics, you must understand set and conditional operators. You will also need to understand the more relevant Oracle table structure. It is recommended that you choose this exam over 1Z0-007.

What are the questions like?

The questions will be very similar to 1Z0-007.

Great, now that you’ve gotten through step one, there’s only one more test to go! You now must pass the following test:

1Z0-052 Oracle Database 11g: Administration I (90 Minute Test, 66% Passing Score)

This exam tests your knowledge of Oracle Database Architecture and its memory and background processes. You will need to set up database environments then create and manage multiple Oracle instances. You must demonstrate the ability to configure and secure these instances within any network environment. This exam will test your ability to administrate and manage storage structures. You must also understand database backup and recovery concepts.

What are the questions like?

The questions will be similar to the 1Z0-047 test in the way that they test much deeper than just memorization. Many of the questions will ask for the correct sequence to solve a given problem.

More about these exams

All of these exams are administered by Oracle via their Education Portal. And, big shocker, there are fees to take each one. If you take only the minimum required exams, it’ll cost you between $320 and $390. This may sound like a lot of money, but keep in mind you are expecting increased earning potential because you are making this investment.

What happens if you fail the exam? No big deal. You have to wait 14 days before being able to take the exam again (and you’ll have to cough up the registration fee again), but you can use that time to study up so you pass this time. If you take a proctored exam, you have to wait until the next time it’s offered.

After you pass and are the proud owner of a new certification its time to leverage your investment in your education. Make sure to add your certification to your resume, to your LinkedIn profile, your blog, wherever you have a bio.