Choosing an exam: Java Foundations vs OCP 11

Three years ago, I wrote about why you should take the OCA 11 rather than the Java Foundations exam. Now that the Java 11 cert is out, the situation changes.

Java Foundations vs OCA 8 (1Z0-815)

Until the OCA 8 is discontinued, I think everyone considering the Java Foundations exam should take the OCA 8. The reasons in my original blog post still apply:

  • The OCA 8 is not that much more difficult than the Java Foundations exam. It’s definitely in reach for an entry level programmer.
  • Taking the OCA 8 lets you use it as a pre-req for a later exam. You can take either the OCP 8 (IZ0-809) or OCP 11 part 2 (IZ0-816). This means you will only need to take one more exam to become OCP certified.

So when should you take the Java Foundations exam:

  • Cost: The Java Foundations exam costs less than half the price of the OCA 8. If you can’t afford the OCA, this is an option.
  • Requirement: If you took a course that requires the Java Foundations or lets you take it for free.

Java Foundations vs OCP 11 part 1 (1Z0-815)

With Java 11, it’s a harder decision deciding which exam to take because:

  1. The OCP 11 part 1 (1Z0-815) is significantly harder than the OCA 8 (1Z0-808). The OCP 11 part 1 is still in reach of an entry level programmer, but it is more work.
  2. Passing the OCP 11 part 1 does not give you a certification. Another (even harder exam) is needed for that.

So who should you take the Java Foundations exam:

  • Time: If you don’t have the time to study for two harder exams, the Java Foundations exam gets you a certification faster.
  • Cost: The Java Foundations exam costs less than half the price of the OCP 11 part 2 and a quarter the cost of the OCP credential.
  • Requirement: If you took a course that requires the Java Foundations or lets you take it for free.

Just be aware that taking the Java Foundations exam does not serve as a prerequisite to later certification exam. If you plan to get OCP certified in the future, be aware that the Java Foundations exam is a one off.

when will the java 9 (or 18.9) OCA/OCP cert be available

At CodeRanch, we frequently encounter the question, “should I take the OCA/OCP 8 certification exam or wait for the Java 9 cert to come out. My answer is to take the Java 8 cert. It could be a long wait for Java “9” certs.

Two months ago, I posted a comment┬áthat I’d be shocked if the OCP 9 was out by mid-2018:

  • March 18, 2014 – Java8 released
  • August 31, 2014 – OCA 8 beta opens
  • April 28, 2015 – OCP 8 beta opens

Granted the Java 8 exam had a lot more changes than the Java 9 exam will have. Especially on the OCP. So it shouldn’t take AS LONG for Java 9. But I would be shocked if the OCP 9 was out the middle of next year.

That was before the announcement of a 6 month release cycle for Java with a long term release every three years. The roadmap lists Java 9 and Java 18.3 as being non-long term support releases with the first one coming out in September 2018 with Java 18.9.

I imagine Oracle would update the cert with 18.9. It makes sense to do it after the results of a re-branding. It makes sense to do it when things are more stable. I feel like Java 9 is still “figuring out” Jigsaw and there will be changes by then. I also thing they are going to tie the cert to the long term support releases. It’s a lot of work to update the cert and doing that every 6 months seems like something they won’t undertake.

But no worries. The Java 6 cert still exists so it isn’t like the Java 8 one is getting pulled out from under us!

Disclaimer: I do not work for Oracle nor is this post based on anything Oracle has said. It represents my opinion.