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Oracle 10g DBA Certification: Everything You Need to Know

by Howard Fosdick

Oracle has introduced their DBA certifications for Oracle 10g. This article describes the new 10g certification requirements. We’ll talk a bit about what it’s like to take the tests. And, we’ll discuss the resources you can use to prepare for the exams, with an emphasis on free materials. Not only do these hold down your certification costs, they’re really useful to ensure a “pass” — yet many candidates are unaware that they are available.

Oracle’s New Certifications

With 10g, Oracle continues its tradition of three levels of DBA certification. The requirements for the levels have changed drastically, however, from those of Oracle 9i. Following are the three levels of 10g DBA certification and their requirements, listed in the order that you pursue them:

Level Abbreviation Requirements
Oracle Certified Associate OCA 1. Pass 1 exam
Oracle Certified Professional OCP 1. Pass 1 exam

2. Take 1 Oracle-approved course

Oracle Certified Master OCM Oracle Corp. has not yet announced the requirements for this level (as of November 2005)

The first DBA certification is the Oracle Certified Associate or OCA. To achieve this certificate, you must simply pass one exam, number 1Z0-042, entitled “Oracle Database 10g: Administration I.” You’ll have 120 minutes to take this test, and face roughly 75 questions. You’ll need to get about 65 percent of the answers correct to pass. Get the list of objectives for this exam and more information about it from Oracle Corp.

If you pass the OCA exam, Oracle Corp. will mail you your OCA certificate (suitable for framing) and other “in club” goodies. You can continue, if you like, to the next certification level, the “Oracle Certified Professional” or “OCP.” This is sometimes referred to as the “OCP-DBA” or “Oracle-certified DBA.” This is the most important, “standard” DBA certification for Oracle DBAs. To attain it, you must pass one exam, number 1Z0-043, entitled “Oracle Database 10g: Administration II.” This exam gives you 90 minutes to answer about 66 percent of its 70 questions correctly. You can find the exam objectives and other information about the exam here.

You must also take one Oracle Corp.-approved course to fulfill the OCP requirements. This course can either be taken in a classroom or online. For most candidates, the online class is cheaper — with it, you can avoid travel and hotel expenses. After you take the Oracle-required course, you have to fill in their completion form and send it to Oracle Corp. to receive credit for the class.

Oracle Corp. gives you a wide range of courses from which to choose to fulfill the OCP course requirement. Most candidates will want to take “Oracle Database 10g: Administration Workshop II” because it directly prepares you for the OCP exam. But if you have other interests, you have many alternatives. View a list of the approved courses you can take here, and find information about the OCP exam and its course requirement here.

Oracle’s most advanced DBA certification is the “Oracle Certified Master” or “OCM.” In Oracle 9i, earning this certification requires taking two Oracle-approved courses, plus passing a rather grueling hands-on exam or “practicum” that is only given on-site at Oracle Corp. As of November 2005, Oracle had not yet released the details of what the 10g database OCM requires, but heres where to look for more information on the OCM certification as it becomes available.

Vendors reserve the right to change their certification programs at any time, so be sure to double-check Oracle’s Web site before putting in the time and effort to certify (make sure you agree with the terms specified in their certification agreement). Oracle’s certification home page is here, while their home page for Oracle 10g DBA certification is here. Oracle posts certification announcements on their Web site; it’s also your access point to free goodies and certification study aids.

Upgrading Your OCP-DBA to 10g

If you’re new to certification, understand that you will have to take an “upgrade test” each time a new database version comes out to keep your certification current. For example, if you are currently an Oracle 9i OCP-DBA, to upgrade your accreditation to 10g, you need to pass one exam, number 1Z0-040, “Oracle Database 10g: New Features for Administrators.” Oracle also allows 8i-certified DBAs to upgrade to 10g by passing the single exam, 1Z0-045, “Oracle Database 10g: DBA New Features forOracle8i OCPs.” Get information from Oracle Corp. on these upgrade tests here.

New Special Accreditations

Beyond the three standard DBA certifications, Oracle offers “special accreditations” on individual topics. These are new in Oracle 10g. At the time of writing this article, Oracle had not released information on exactly what special accreditations will be offered or their specific requirements. If you attain an Oracle certification you may wish to visit Oracle’s DBA certification home page in the future to see if any of the special accreditations interests you.

What the Tests are Like

If you’ve never taken a certification exam before, understand that the tests are rigorous. While Oracle Corp. does not publish “pass rates,” it is widely believed that between 65 percent and 75 percent of the candidates pass each test. Put into perspective, this means your chances of failing any one exam are between one in four, and one in three! How could the tests be so difficult?

The questions are detailed and involved. Even if you consider yourself an “Oracle guru,” you will have to study to pass. These tests don’t necessarily measure how good you are at your job; they measure how well you can analyze and answer highly detailed, involved questions on the test topics. You’ll need to study a book written specifically to help candidates pass the exam you take.

All test questions are multiple choice: Some have a single answer, while others ask you to pick several correct answers for each question. Some even have one answer that is technically correct, but another answer that the vendor considers to be better.

To succeed, you should read each question and all the possible answers in their entirety before answering. Reading the questions and answers very carefully is critical. In many cases, you won’t know what is the correct answer, so you should eliminate answers you know are incorrect, then take your best guess from the remaining options. This increases your chances for a correct answer. Answer every question, since correct guesses count in your favor and there is no penalty for guessing. Use all the time available to you in taking the test and be sure to check your answers. For more test-taking advice, refer to my previous DBAzine article, DBA Certification: Test-taking and Study Tips.

After you complete the exam, press the Done button, and you’ll immediately see your score and whether or not you passed. If you run out of time before pressing the Done button, the screen freezes when your time is up, and you’ll be taken to the same results screen. You can print your test results on the LAN-attached printer — a good idea, so that you have evidence that you passed the test. Oracle Corp. sends you a formal certificate and other certification materials a few weeks later in the mail. If you fail a test, you can opt to re-pay the exam fee and take it again at a later time.

Oracle Corp. outsources administration of the exams to a company called Prometric; you can sign up to take a test through the Prometric Web site. Oracle exams currently cost $125, which you can pay by credit card online. On the Prometric Web site, you’ll choose from a list of local companies with facilities where you can take the exam. You’ll have to present two forms of picture identification when you show up to take an exam. The testing site provides a PC running the test-taking software. You may not take anything with you into the room where the exam is being administered.

What to Study

My previous article, DBA Certification Secrets: How to Pass the Tests, describes how following these four steps gives you the best chance to pass:

      1. Review terms and materials at the vendor’s certification Web site
      2. Get hands-on product experience
      3. Study a certification book
      4. Take “practice tests”

We’ve already discussed step (1). Beyond this, you need to get hands-on product experience. If you can get this at work, you’ll save time; otherwise, you can freely download Oracle 10g database for your Windows or Linux PC from the the downloads page at the Oracle Technology Network (OTN) Web site. Oracle’s OTN web site is a great source of free study resources, including a download of the 10g manual set and articles from Oracle Magazine. You can even fill out their online subcription form and get Oracle Magazine delivered to your door for free.

To find a good certification book, go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble and search on the keywords “10g certification.” Presently, this search will yield Oracle DBA certification books from two competing publishers: McGraw-Hill/Oracle Press and Sybex. The 10g certification books from these publishers include:

Oracle Database 10g OCP Certification All-In-One Exam Guide (McGraw-Hill Osborne), by John Watson and Damir Bersinic, ISBN: 0072257903. This book covers both the OCA Administration I test material and the OCP Administration II test material.

OCA Oracle 10g Administration I Study Guide : Exam 1Z0-042 (Sybex), by Dawes, Bryla et al, ISBN: 0782143679.

OCP: Oracle 10g Administration II Study Guide : Exam 1Z0-043 (Sybex), by Doug Stuns, Tim Buterbaugh, Bob Bryla, ISBN: 0782143687.

The two previous books can be purchased as a two-book set (with minor savings), as OCP: Oracle 10g Certification Kit (1Z0-042 and 1Z0-043) (Sybex), ISBN: 0782143695.

OCP: Oracle 10g New Features for Administrators Study Guide: Exam 1Z0-040 (Sybex), by Bob Bryla, Biju Thomas, ISBN: 0782143555.

OCP Oracle Database 10g : New Features for Administrators Exam Guide (Oracle Press), by Sam Alapati, ISBN: 0072258624.

Read the book reviews at Amazon to see which books you prefer: you’ll be spending a lot of time studying them. Or flip through these books at a local bookstore to get a feel for them.

You can save some money by buying used books online, but if you do, make sure the seller includes the CD(s) that came with the book. These include “practice tests,” sets of exam questions that mimic the real thing, and you’ll want to work with some practice tests to prepare for the real exam.

Supplement your certification book with the Oracle 10g manuals. You can freely download the entire Oracle 10g manual set from Oracle Corp. The manual set also ships with Oracle database and is installable from the 10g database CDs.

You can also utilize brief “study guides” available from CramSession (download their free Oracle study guides here). Several vendors sell audio CDs you can listen to in your car or on the commuter train, including PrepLogic and AudioWhiz. (Full disclosure: The author has developed Oracle DBA certification materials for CramSession, PrepLogic and AudioWhiz in the past.)

While all the certification study books come with practice tests, some candidates buy tests from third parties. Oracle Corp. itself advertises the practice tests from Self Test Software; other popular vendors include Transcender and PrepLogic. Our biggest single recommendation for passing the Oracle exams is to study some top-notch practice exams. Good practice tests give you the advantage of understanding answers to a handful of the most difficult or obscure questions. Given that most candidates pass or fail by just a few questions, this ensures a “pass” for the well-prepared candidate.

Do you need to take courses to pass the exams? New or inexperienced DBAs will find these useful. Good providers of courses include Oracle Corp., TUSC, and the Database Domain. However, experienced DBAs should be able to pass without taking courses. If you want to keep your certification costs down, be aware that courses are the most expensive single cost in certification. Instructor-led classes cost up to $500 per day, not including airfare and hotel costs if travel is required. If you are an experienced Oracle DBA, you probably do not need classroom training to pass the certification tests.

Online forums are a great place to ask technical questions and seek certification advice. Among the Web sites covering Oracle are DB Forums, the Quest Software Pipelines, and Oracle Corp.s own forums. Other useful Web sites for Oracle professionals include DBAzine, Database Journal, Database Trends, Database Toolbox and DBA-Village.

The Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG) Web site offers technical articles in its SELECT Magazine and hosts active Web forums. IOUG also runs conferences (just as Oracle Corp. does with its Oracle Open World and Developer Days conferences).

Good technical magazines about Oracle products include Oracle Professional magazine from Pinnacle Publishing, Oracle Internals magazine from Auerbach Publications, and Exploring Oracle magazine from Element K Journals, all paid-subscription journals. They are excellent for deepening your Oracle knowledge, but probably are not necessary if your only immediate goal is the pass the certification tests.

Your Next Steps

I’ve given you some objective advice on Oracle’s 10g DBA certifications and how to get started towards obtaining them. Follow the links to other resources to continue your quest. Good luck!


Howard Fosdick has been an OCP-DBA since version 7. His new book Rexx Programmers Reference covers everything about Rexx including database programming, interfaces, interpreters, and object-oriented Rexx.

Contributors : Howard Fosdick
Last modified 2005-12-09 10:45 AM

10g exam info very useful

Posted by ankireddya at 2006-06-06 10:52 PM
Oracle 10 G certification info provided by Howard Fosdick is useful.

Thanks a lot for this information.


Posted by netuglu at 2007-07-11 09:47 AM
Thank you very much.
These are the most useful and clear informations ( not complicated for a beginner like me :) ) i found about 10g on web.

thanks again.
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