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An Oracle Instructor’s Guide to Oracle Education and the Oracle Certification Process

by Christopher Foot


I have been creating Oracle courseware and teaching Oracle for more than 15 years. I started my career in education teaching Oracle for Platinum Technologies. At Platinum, I was responsible for creating their entire Oracle curriculum, including classes on general administration, backup/recovery, database tuning, and several SQL and PL/SQL courses. I'm presently employed as a senior-level certified Oracle Instructor for Contemporary Technologies, Inc., an Oracle certified training center and member of the Oracle Approved Education Center (OAEC) program.

The greatest accomplishment in my career came was when I was awarded the OAEC Quality Achievement Award. These awards are given to the top four instructors in the OAEC program. Like most instructors, I take my teaching responsibilities seriously. It is my job to ensure that the students who take my classes are prepared for the challenges that await them. I try to impart 15 years of tips, tricks, and techniques so that my students don’t make the same mistakes I did. If you believe the adage "we all learn from our mistakes," then you can truly classify me as an Oracle expert.

Because of my background in Oracle Education, I am often asked about the Oracle certification process, which classes would be most beneficial, the questions on the exams (sorry, I don’t answer those), and how to prepare for the certification tests. The purpose of this article is to help students better understand Oracle Education and the Oracle certification process.

Oracle Classroom Education

When is the best time to take the classes? This may sound trite, but it is best to follow Oracle’s recommendations on the sequence of classes. Take the intro classes before taking the more advanced classes. If you have the luxury (meaning you aren't the only DBA in your shop), gain some day-to-day experience before taking the more advanced classes (e.g., SQL or database tuning, backup and recovery). You shouldn't be asking questions like, "What is an init.ora parameter file, anyway?" in a tuning or backup and recovery class. Instructors don't have the time to answer these, and your fellow students won't have the patience to bring you up to speed before continuing on to more advanced topics.

If it is an emergency situation, such as when your shop's DBA gives two weeks' notice (Oracle DBAs are now considered to be migratory workers by many companies), bring yourself up to speed by:

      • Reading as much information as you can on the class you are taking before you take it. Oracle press books, Oracle's Technet Web site, and non-Oracle consulting companys' Web sites contain a wealth of information. Read the course descriptions and course content at Oracle Education’s Web site. You may not know the mechanics, but you do need to know the lingo and the concepts used.
      • When you attend the class, inform your instructor that you don't have a lot of day-to-day experience. Instructors want you to get the most out of class; we'll help you by staying later, coming in earlier, and giving you reading recommendations.
      • Familiarize yourself with the next day's material by reading it the night before.

An instructor who sees that you are making an extra effort to overcome your lack of day-to-day experience by coming in early, staying late, and being prepared, will be more likely to help you. Instructors like to see people excited about what we are teaching; seeing someone enthused about learning makes us want to make sure they get the most out of class. And don’t let your ego get in the way of your getting the utmost benefit of the class you are taking — ask questions and get involved!

Oracle9i Curriculum Changes

The Oracle9i Instructor Led Training (ILT) classes have been dramatically changed for Oracle9i. The Oracle9i curriculum consists of the following ILT classes:

Introduction to Oracle9i: SQL (5 Days)

This class prepares students for Oracle Certification Test #170-007. You’ll notice that the title is a little different that the Oracle8i Introductory Class. The Oracle8i class titled "Introduction to Oracle8i SQL and PL/SQL" included several chapters on understanding and writing Oracle’s procedural language PL/SQL. PL/SQL is no longer taught in the Oracle9i:SQL introductory class. It has been replaced with information on Oracle’s ISQL*Plus product, correlated subqueries, GROUP BY extensions (ROLLUP, CUBE), multitable INSERT statements, and instructions for writing SQL statements that generate SQL statements.

Introduction to Oracle8i SQL and PL/SQL (5 days)

Although titled as an Oracle8i class, the class is intended to prepare students for Oracle9i Certification Test #170-001 (Introduction to Oracle SQL and PL/SQL). The class provides in-depth information on SQL including information on SQL basics, joins, aggregations and subqueries. In addition, the class also provides information on basic PL/SQL programming.

Oracle9i Database Administration Fundamentals I (5 Days)

The Oracle9i Database Administration Fundamentals I class prepares students for Certification Test #170-001. The new Oracle9i DBA intro class is much like its Oracle8i counterpart that was titled, "Enterprise DBA Part1A: Architecture and Administration." Although much of the material remains the same, there are a few changes that should be noted: the export and import information has been moved to the Fundamentals II class, Oracle’s load utility (SQL*Loader) is no longer covered, and more time is spent learning and using Oracle’s administrative toolkit, Oracle Enterprise Manager.

Oracle9i Database Administration Fundamentals II (5 Days)

This class prepares students for Certification Test #170-032. The class combines a small subset of the material covered in the two-day Oracle8i "Enterprise DBA Part3: Network Administration" class with all of the information covered in the four-day "Enterprise DBA Part1B: Backup and Recovery" class. The class also contains information on Oracle’s Export and Import utilities for good measure.

Oracle9i Database Performance Tuning (5 Days)

The Oracle9i database tuning class prepares students for Certification Test #170-033 and follows the same general format of the Oracle8i tuning class with four days of classroom instruction followed by a one-day workshop.

Oracle9i Oracle Certifications

Oracle has also changed the certification process for Oracle9i. Database administrators wanting to become Oracle8i Certified Professionals (OCP) were required to pass five certification tests, one for each database administration class that Oracle offered: Intro, DBA Part 1A: Architecture and Administration, DBA Part 1B: Backup and Recovery, DBA Part 2: Tuning and Performance, and DBA Part 3: Network Administration. Oracle has changed the certification process for Oracle9i by adding two new certifications (Associates and Masters) and requiring additional hands-on classroom training to obtain Oracle Certified Professional certification.

Oracle Certified Database Associate (OCA)

Two exams are required to become an Oracle Certified Database Associate. Those wanting to become Oracle Certified Database Associates must pass either the Intro to Oracle9I: SQL or the Intro to Oracle: SQL and PL/SQL certification tests and pass the Oracle9i Database Administration Fundamentals I exam.

The minimum scoring requirements and test durations for the Oracle Certified Database Associate tests are as follows:

      • Introduction to Oracle: SQL and PL/SQL — Oracle Certification Test #170-007 contains 57 questions and requires a 68 percent correct answer score (39 questions correctly answered) to pass. Students may take up to two hours to complete the test.
      • Introduction to Oracle9i: SQL — Oracle Certification Test #1Z0-007 contains 57 questions and requires a 70 percent correct answer score (40 questions correctly answered to pass). Two hours are permitted to complete the test. Note: This is the only certification test that can be taken online at the Oracle Education Web site. If you do not have good Internet access, proctored exams are delivered in a secure testing environment at an Oracle University Training Center or Authorized Prometric Testing Center. All other certification tests must be taken at a Prometric (see the section on Prometric Testing Centers, below).
      • Oracle Database: Fundamentals I — Oracle Certification Test #170-031 contains 60 questions and requires a 73 percent correct answer score (44 questions correctly answered) to pass. Students may take up to 1.5 hours to complete the test.

Oracle Certified Database Professional (OCP)

Administrators wanting to become Oracle Certified Database Professionals must first earn their Oracle Certified Database Associate certification. In addition, candidates must also pass the Oracle9i Database Administration Fundamentals II and Oracle9i Database Performance Tuning certification tests. The final requirement is to attend at least one of the following Oracle University hands-on courses:

      • Oracle9i Introduction to SQLO
      • Oracle9i Database Fundamentals I
      • Oracle9i Database Fundamentals II
      • Oracle9i Database Performance Tuning
      • Oracle9i Database New Features
      • Introduction to Oracle: SQL and PL/SQL

The minimum scoring requirements and test durations for the Oracle Certified Database Professional tests are as follows:

      • Oracle Database: Fundamentals II — Oracle Certification Test #170-032 contains 63 questions and requires a 77 percent correct answer score (49 questions correctly answered) to pass. Students may take up to 1.5 hours to complete the test.
      • Oracle Database: Performance Tuning — Oracle Certification Test #170-033 contains 59 questions and requires a 64 percent correct answer score (38 questions correctly answered) to pass. Students may take up to 1.5 hours to complete the test.

Oracle Certified Master Database Administrator (OCM)

Those wanting to reach "Oracle Nirvana" and become Oracle Certified Masters must first earn their Oracle Certified Professional (OCP) certification. Candidates must also attend two of the eight advanced Oracle University hands-on courses, listed below:

      • Oracle Enterprise Manager 9i
      • Oracle9i SQL Tuning Workshop
      • Oracle9i Database: Implement Partitioning
      • Oracle9i Database: Advanced Replication
      • Oracle9i Database: Spatial
      • Oracle9i Database: Warehouse Administration
      • Oracle9i Database: Security
      • Oracle9i: Real Application Clusters

The final step is to attend (and pass) a two-day, live application event that requires participants to complete a series of scenarios and resolve technical problems in an Oracle9i database environment. Attendees will be scored on their ability to successfully complete the assigned tasks.

Oracle9i DBA OCP Upgrade Path

Those who want to stay current as an Oracle Certified Professional may upgrade their credentials by completing the Oracle migration exams. Oracle Education provides upgrade certification tests to allow administrators to upgrade their current certification to Oracle 9i OCP.

How many tests a DBA must take for this upgrade depends on his or her current certification. OCP DBAs must complete each release in order. For example, Oracle7.3 DBA OCPs must pass exam #1Z0-010, 1Z0-020 and 1Z0-030 to upgrade their OCP credential to Oracle9i Database Administrator.

Each upgrade exam closely follows the material provided in the Oracle database new features classes, which provide information on all of the new "bells and whistles" contained in the release. Administrators studying for the upgrade certification should focus on the material provided in the New Features section of the documentation provided with the Oracle software.

Listed below are the migration exams that are currently available to previously certified Oracle DBAs:

      • Upgrade Exam: Oracle7.3 to Oracle8 OCP DBA (#1Z0-010).
        This exam covers information provided in the Oracle8 New Features for Administrators class. The exam focuses on partitioned tables and indexes, parallelizing INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE operations, extended ROWIDS, defining object-relational objects, managing large objects (i.e., LOBS, CLOBS), advanced queuing, index organized tables, and Oracle8 security enhancements.
      • Upgrade Exam: Oracle8 to Oracle8i OCP DBA (#1Z0-020).
        The Oracle8i upgrade exam covers information provided by the Oracle8i New Features for Administrators class. This exam focuses on the Oracle Java implementation, optimizer and query performance improvements, materialized views, bitmap index and index-organized enhancements and range, hash, and composite partitioning. The exam also covers Oracle installer enhancements, locally managed tablespaces, transportable tablespaces, and the Oracle8i database resource manager.
      • Upgrade Exam: Oracle8i to Oracle9i OCP DBA (#1Z0-030).
        Like its aforementioned counterparts, the Oracle9i upgrade covers information provided by the Oracle9i New Features for Administrators Class. The exam covers information on fine grained auditing, partitioned fine grained access control, secure application roles, global context, flashback query, resumable space allocation, SPFILEs, log miner enhancements and recovery manager new features.

Other Recommend Classes

Oracle Education provides dozens of additional classes on Oracle technologies. These additional classes provide more in-depth information in key areas of database administration. A few recommendations on additional classes follow (the course descriptions are taken directly from Contemporary Technologies' Web site):

      • Oracle9I Program with PL/SQL. This is an excellent class for administrators desiring to learn more about Oracle’s procedural language. This course introduces students to PL/SQL and helps them understand the benefits of this powerful programming language. In the class, students learn to create PL/SQL blocks of application code that can be shared by multiple forms, reports, and data management applications. Students learn to create procedures, functions, packages, and database triggers.
      • Oracle9i Database: SQL Tuning Workshop R2. This course is designed to give the student a firm foundation in the art of SQL tuning. The participant learns the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively tune SQL against the Oracle9i Server. Students gain a thorough conceptual understanding of the Rule-Based and Cost-Based Optimizer. The course uses a series of challenge-level workshops, allowing students to "play, discover, and learn" at their own level and pace. The students learn to use the Oracle diagnostic tools and facilities: EXPLAIN, SQL Trace and TKPROF, SQL*Plus AUTOTRACE. Students also learn to influence the behavior of the Optimizer by changing the physical schema and modifying SQL statement syntax.
      • Oracle Enterprise Manager 9i. This course is taught on Oracle9i Release 2. Upon completion of the course, participants are able to deploy Oracle Enterprise Manager and effectively use the tool to administer and monitor the Oracle Database and Operating System.
      • Oracle9i: New Features for Administrators R2. This course introduces students to the new features in Oracle9i that impact database administration. Students learn how to use Oracle9i capabilities to increase database availability, to simplify database performance monitoring and tuning, and to improve database manageability. The course also covers security and development platform changes that students need to understand if applications running in databases they support use the related features. Hands-on practice sessions give students an opportunity to examine many of the new features for themselves.
      • Oracle Net Services: Advanced Administration. In this course, the features of Oracle Net Services that ease the complexities of network configuration and management will be explored. Oracle Net Directory Naming will be discussed in detail and students will learn how to migrate from a Local Naming Configuration and Oracle Names to Directory Naming.
      • Managing Oracle on Linux. This course is designed to give the Database Administrator a firm understanding of the components required to successfully deploy an Oracle9i Database on Linux. Students will learn how to configure the Linux operating system for optimal performance with an Oracle database. Then they will install and create an Oracle9i Database on Linux. The students will also learn how to tune the Oracle9i Database to take advantage of the Linux operating system and the enterprise-level features of the OS. Basic administration OS tasks as they relate to the database will also be covered; file system choices, automated startup and shutdown scripts, network configuration, customizing the database for Linux, and configuring Oracle Enterprise Manager. Lectures are reinforced with hands-on practices designed to walk the student through the entire installation, tuning, and configuration process.

Preparing for the Oracle Certified Professional Exams

The best time to take the exam is a week or two after taking the corresponding Oracle class. Passing the certification test is much easier when the information is fresh. The class workbook should be used as the primary study guide: I have passed every exam I have taken by studying only the information contained in the class workbooks. The classes are not required to obtain Oracle9i OCP certification, but the requirements have changed for Oracle9i OCP certification (see Oracle9i Oracle Certifications, above).

The Oracle Education Web site allows administrators to purchase practice exam tests. Free sample questions are also available. Practice tests provide the administrator with a firm understanding of the areas that they are strong in as well as the areas where they need to shore up their knowledge.

The Oracle provided practice tests provide a thorough coverage of the Oracle certification requirements and use the same test question technology as the real exams including simulations, scenarios, hot spots and case studies. Other practice test features include:

      • Tutorials and text references that enhance the learning process.
      • Random generation of test questions provides a dynamic and challenging testing environment.
      • Testing and grading by objective to allow administrators to focus on specific areas.
      • Thorough review of all answers (both correct and incorrect).
      • More questions provided than any other source.

Taking the Certification Exams

Oracle Certification Tests are taken at Authorized Prometric Testing Centers. The Prometric Testing Center Web site provides a test center locator to help you find testing centers in your area. The price for exam 1Z0-007 is $90 US Dollars over the Internet and in Authorized Prometric Testing Centers. The price for all other Oracle Certification exams is equivalent to $125 US Dollars, plus any local taxes.

The following hints and tips will prepare for the day you take your certification tests:

      • Bring at least two forms of identification. One must be a government issued photo identification, and both forms of identification must contain your signature.
      • Show up at least 15 minutes before your scheduled exam. If you are more than 15 minutes late, the testing center coordinator has the option of canceling your exam and asking you to reschedule your test.
      • You are not permitted to bring any materials into the test area. The testing center coordinator will provide scratch paper. All scratch paper is collected and destroyed by testing center personnel at the end of the exam.
      • The test center administrator will give you a brief orientation and will escort you to a computer terminal where you will take the exam. A computerized tutorial on system and equipment use, designed to familiarize you with the exam procedure, will be provided to you by testing center personnel prior to the beginning of the exam. The orientation includes directions for reviewing questions, entering responses, and how to access the exhibits that you will need to answer some test questions.
      • Questions left unanswered will be marked as incorrect.
      • Exam scores are immediately available after the test is completed.
      • All exam results are immediately forwarded by Prometric to the Oracle Certification Program management. It's a good idea to keep a copy of your test results for your records.
      • Candidates must wait at least 30 days before retaking any failed exam, except for exam #1Z0-007 Introduction to Oracle9i: SQL.

Gray Market Training

Gray market training is classroom education provided by any third parties other than Oracle or an Oracle Approved Education Center. The course content is created by the gray market provider. Therefore, there is no guarantee that the quality and course content of these classes will provide you with the information necessary to enhance your expertise or successfully pass the Oracle Certification tests.

Students who want to take gray market training classes should carefully evaluate the vendor that provides the training as well as the course’s content. Students should ask the vendor to provide a detailed listing of the course’s curriculum as well as the background of the instructor who will be providing the training.

Further Information

Oracle provides a wealth of different training promotions and block-training credit discounts. Because of student participation minimums, classes that do not have the minimum number of students registered will be cancelled. It is important to note that the course you are scheduled for may not be confirmed until the week before you are scheduled to take the class.

The Contemporary Technologies Web site provides a listing of the Oracle Certified classes held at our training centers, plus other pertinent information. If you take a class at our Pittsburgh training center, you’ll have me as your instructor. If you do have me as an instructor — be prepared. Thanks and I’ll see you in class!


Christopher Foot has been involved in database management for over 18 years, serving as a database administrator, database architect, trainer, speaker, and writer. Currently, Chris is employed as a Senior Database Architect at RemoteDBA Experts, a remote database services provider. Chris is the author of over forty articles for a variety of magazines and is a frequent lecturer on the database circuit having given over a dozen speeches to local, national and international Oracle User Groups. His book titled OCP Instructors Guide for DBA Certification, can be found at

Contributors : Christopher Foot
Last modified 2006-03-21 09:54 AM


Posted by Jayan at 2005-05-14 08:26 AM
Yr. valuable suggestions are very help to me

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