Sun's Java technology's primary claim is “Write once, run anywhere.” Many people and companies agree. Because most Java programmers are self-taught, the skill levels out there vary wildly. It is not easy to figure out whom you would really want on your team to be responsible for a key piece of development. Although it is not a guarantee, a certification exam does two things. First, it weeds out the lightweights. Second, it encourages programmers to study the more useful aspects of the language. Some people publicly deride certifications of any kind—and Sun's in particular. However, if they had to choose between two people to join them on a project that is behind schedule, knowing little else about the individuals, they would choose ...

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