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Finding a focus: Oracle DBA, developer and JAVA J2EE, HIPAA or SCNP

I have both my bachelor and master degrees in computer science and worked in a global telecomm company for about 8 years as a software engineer. Due to the downsizing, my position got eliminated late last year.

My next step is to have some training and get the certification in order to look IT opportunities in other industries, such as health care, financial areas. Recently I am struggling between two sets of trainings. One is e-commerce including Oracle DBA, developer and JAVA J2EE, the other is HIPAA and SCNP. I know some friends who got Oracle certificates but couldn't find job. How is the network security type of certification, such as SCNP? I have no working experience but I am willing to learn and pass the exam. Can I find job after the certification? Your answer will be greatly appreciated.

Most recent surveys indicate that security is a better place to be than database, with Java/J2EE more or less in the middle (better than database, worse than security). That said, with your extensive academic background and credentials, you should be able to handle the subject matter no matter which field you choose.

If you decide to go the security route, I'd recommend starting with the CompTIA Security+, then taking a look at the SANS GIAC (www.giac.org) and CISSP (www.isc2.org) programs. The CISSP requires 3 years of relevant work experience, so it may be a bit of a stretch for you. That's why you might want to go Security+, then for some of the beginning (GSEC) intermediate GIAC certifications.

On the other hand, Java programmers are still in pretty strong demand. If you are interested in staying in programming--and I assume your prior experience was in programming because of the job title "software engineer"-- it may make more sense to go after Java 2 Programmer, Developer, and J2EE components exams.

I'd urge you to base your decisions on job postings, ads, and information from friends, colleagues, and hiring managers in your area. What makes sense in one place may not make sense in another. All I can tell you is general market trends; for the more specific information you'll need to make your own plans, please do some more homework locally.
Good luck!

This was last published in February 2003

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