1) Certification is good
Is true there are people out there who will certify only to have a certification, who will only study the minimal. But there is a lot who benefit from it, so certification is valid but obviosly only as part of a group of personal skills to increase Oracle knowledge.
2) There is not a complete certification path through prometric to guide dbas to get from basic to advanced skills
You have an OCP certification giving basic knowledge, and an advanced OCM certification to test that skills. Additionally you have a lot of university courses, which is not available in all countries, one by distance and/or by price.
I think Sun thought more carefully before doing Java Certification path, even if you don't get certified you know what is what you need to learn, and don't think you know everything after you get first certification.
More important than this in once you define a certification path through prometric, there appears self test and books to prepare for that exams, so you don't like certification and you like selfstudy, that's ok, but anyway you will have some study books specialized in every certification step.
Thanks Tom Kyte, after my certificatoin, I know there is other important features like analytics. Thanks Jhonathan Lewis I understand some hidden features like dumps are useful in some situations, last year.
I found a way to solve my database problems, but not were solved by a clear certification path, a certification path saying, you have this basic certification, but this is only basic, there are other steps, there are this specialization on tuning, another in backups(this should include advanced techniques used on emergencies with oracle support) , etc.
The problem is you get your ocp and you can't solve your problems, then you think this is some problem or limitation in the database, is true there is a lot of features documented, but you need to test them, and when you have an emergency you don't have that time, and if you are not a full time database is more difficult you have that knowledge, frequently neither metalink support. There is a big probability for new dbas when they reach a problem they couldn't resolve if they don't know about other resources Tom Kyte, this it to know if they ask him they will get a real answer, to know there are aces if you ask them, you have a good chance to get an answer. But neither Tom Kyte, neither aces neither internet where there is a lot of resources, you'll get help if you don't find the source of your problems, if I say I have this problem in this wait, I'll receive or found help; but if I say I have problem in this query or process nobody is going to go to your office to find the root of your problem.
3) This deficiencies in certifications goes agains very small database
To be honest, Oracle Coporation showed very little interest in this group, one of the recent examples is the desupport of oracle developer 6i, very small database don't need Oracle Application, but they don't matter and decided to force to migrate to it. For a product on developer for 10 users you don't need another computer where you have to Oracle Applications. I regret the day I choose Oracle Developer instead of Delphi, because it was hard to understand and it has a lot of limitation, the only really good tool is oracle reports.
Dbas who win less than 15M per year, can't get the money to travel and study in Oracle University, other courses and events there are around the world.
Very small database don't pay metalink support.
a) Oracle supposes you are going to be a full time dbas
I think part the problem resides too in the fact you are a dba full time, and you will have time to investigate and read the lot of literature there is about Oracle, where you'll find the way to be really a good dba. And in very small business this is not possible and is not necessary.
3) Problems are not evident
On very small and small database, where you can have process running 8 hours (when it could run 10mn) and have other deficiencies, but becuase they can leave that process running all the night, the leave running in the night, and this doesn't a problem in response tim.
But in big database there is more pressures, you fix it or you lose your job, so you end learning it through other specialists, by oracle support, etc. And is very possible you find a sernior dba who will teach this techniques. But in small database you don't have that pressure. What I learn on tuning was on problem on response time who had to be solved in one or in other way. This kind of problems happens too in bigger database, and caused to use real applications when they didn't need it. But now this is more rare to happen.
This causes after using Oracle several years you could find dbas who says sql server is the same, even better, when it is really isn't.
What I really don't understand is why Oracle is surprised there are several dbas without enough skills, if to get really advanced skill, you have to get them thourhg tutoring and/or discover through a lot of investigation in internet and reading books, and I must say a lot of practice and tests, specially if you didn't haven't the oportunity to work on a real database.
I concluded or I have a distorted perception of the reality of Oracle don't matter or didn't understood the deficiencies they have on education who affects a group of their customers in period of time, when they are starting to use it. If as a customer I get all my employees certified as dbas, I suppose they know all they need, but they don't have, they need to read several books to learn to use Oracle efficiently.