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  • January 19, 2018

The Single Motivational Factor That Helps Determine Certification Success

Brandye Barrington
Sr. Program Manager

Written by Harald Van Breederode, Oracle University Instructor and Oracle Certified Master.

He calls himself the Dutch Prutser but in our eyes he is anything but. What's a Prutser? It's a slang for someone who makes a mess of it...hear from Harald Van Breederode on what he believes is the single most important factor that helps determine certification success.

As an Oracle University instructor I have the privilege to engage directly with a lot of customers that attend our training courses.

At some point during a course I always promote our certification program and ask my students if they are Oracle certified. If they are not, I ask them if they have any plans to change this in the (near) future.

Quite often this leads to discussions about the investment people have to make, but also about what the benefits of being Oracle certified could be. As always, it depends!

I believe both the amount of effort necessary and the eventual benefits depend on the initial motivation to become certified.

Many students state they are really motivated, but over the years I have seen that even though it seems they really are, it is not easy for them to follow through and actually become certified.

I think there are basically two types of motivation that may or may not lead to certification success: external and internal motivation. I would like to shed some light on these types of motivation in the context of becoming Oracle certified. Hopefully this will give some insights into the question if becoming certified is for you.

The externally motivated student type

This type of student is more often then not forced to become certified by their employer and isn’t really motivated on a personal level. The externally motivated student generally wants to spend as little time possible on their certification status, they just want to check the box to adhere to the company rules.

They tend to prepare for their certification exam using practice tests, exam study guides or other content that basically tells them what they need to know without spending more time than absolutely necessary to pass an exam. Interestingly, it is quite often that this kind of student complains about the exams because they believe the exams are too difficult or contain too many errors. Often they also believe that exam questions are written with only one goal in mind: to fool them by using complicated language.

The externally motivated student often gives up after failing an exam once out of frustration. Eventually they tend to fall behind with their technical knowledge, as working on becoming or staying certified is not experienced as a structured means of maintaining their Oracle related skills.

Although the externally motivated student often seems to enjoy working with Oracle technology, they don’t really see the benefits of being Oracle certified.

The internally motivated student type

This type of student often wants to learn as much as possible about Oracle technology, become certified, and keep their credentials up-to-date. Certification helps them achieve these goals.

The internally motivated student prepares for an exam by building their own sandbox environment and spending as much time as possible playing with the software, until they feel confident about the skills they acquired. Generally they don’t use practice tests during exam preparation and they don’t use exam study guides or any other material that simply tells them what they need to know without providing them with any skills they can actually use.

After becoming an Oracle Certified Professional the internally motivated student explores the possibility of acquiring one or more Oracle Certified Expert credentials or of becoming an Oracle Certified Master to take their knowledge to the highest level.

The feedback I receive from internally motivated students is that they learned a lot while preparing for the exams and that they enjoy answering exam questions that really challenge their knowledge. In general this type of student doesn’t complain about tough questions because they understand that exam questions are written to separate those who are qualified for the job from those who are not.

Sometimes they even provide me with new exam questions ;-)

Wrapping up

Without the right motivation, the road to becoming Oracle certified can be very frustrating and could lead to all kinds of disappointments. Trying to become certified based on external motivation only could in the end actually be a waste of time and effort.

Feeling internally motivated to become Oracle certified makes the journey enjoyable, worthwhile and rewarding.

The Oracle Certified Professionals I talk to on a regular bases value their credentials and are proud of their deeper understanding of Oracle products. This reflects on their daily job, showing their superiors they are motivated and technically skilled.

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About the author
Harald van Breederode is a Senior Principal DBA Instructor at Oracle with over 30 years computer industry experience. He started his career at Oracle almost 25 years ago as a Unix Systems administrator. The past 20 years he has been sharing his knowledge of Oracle Technology in the classroom as an instructor at Oracle University. 

Harald is Oracle Database 8i and 9i Administrator Certified Professional, an Oracle Database 10g and 11g Administrator Certified Master and an Oracle Database 12c Oracle Maximum Availability Architecture Certified Master.

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Comments ( 5 )
  • Leo Tuesday, January 23, 2018

    Is the Oracle Documentation available during an OCM tests?
    I mean, keeping track of so many details is hard enough, but remembering the exact syntax for everything is unlikely.
  • Sartorius Monday, January 29, 2018
    Not all employers value Oracle certification. Some prefer soft skills such as communication. Nevertheless, the Oracle Certification Program has beena way of boosting my confidence, making me more useful at work and more desirable to prospective employers. Though, with retirement as a more realistic outcome, it is also a validation of many years of working in IT.
    To this extent, I fall into the category of an externally motivated student. I do use practice tests as a study targeting aid and I have complained about badly scripted questions/answers and perceived errors. With no feedback forthcoming, it would have been difficult to move on .... except for the internet. I have found questioning questions to be a motivation to find answers.
    So far in pursuit of my second Oracle certification, I have studied a total of 54 8-hr days over a 20-month period and passed two exams. As with many things, the more you know, the more you know you don’t know.
  • Brandye Barrington Monday, January 29, 2018
    Thanks for your feedback!
  • Bruno Fabietti Thursday, February 15, 2018
    Living in the Netherlands gave me the unique opportunity of having attended several Oracle University courses given by Harald. He has inspired me with his special way at approaching the given subjects at hand. I started , as a he calls it, with an external motivated certification approach; i.e. asked / chosen by my employer to get a certification to justify our Oracle Partner status. What I did, is take the list of exam topics, and not only learnt the theory but also tried to have at least one practical go at all of them. In time this way of working turned me into an internally motivated person , as after every upgrade exam , it helped me fully grasp the scope of new releases and keep up to date with developments in the Oracle database. It is true that the exam questions are sometimes a bit awkward in there way of querying your logic thinking, but I guess that goes for a lot of other exams. Many collegues in the field say that the certification is purely theoretical and having not much practical value ,. In part that is true, but as Harald says ‘it depends’ how you approach the challenge! About 2 years ago, I decided to give my carreer as an Oracle DBA the final push to master the ‘final’ exam and I can say it gave a lot of internal satisfaction.
  • Brandye Barrington Tuesday, February 27, 2018
    Thanks for your story, Bruno! I think your experience echos our belief that the real value of certification is the knowledge you gain while preparing for the exam.

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