I've been working in Java now for a year. It's long enough that I plan on earning the certification SCJP (Sun Certified Java Programmer). Today I had a long conversation with some friends about certifications in general and our thoughts for why we want them. We all agree that certifications are about what we can already do. We earn them to prove that we are capable at our positions. It proves that we are ready to move on to the next level with what we are working on.
Me I plan to continue to improve my skills, keep learning to develop faster better higher quality applications, and to work towards an architect type of position. I love developing.
What is the next step for me? I love developing, but I also love leading. Is the next step for me a hybrid type of position where I both lead a team and develop? I don't know. I'm hoping by that time I'll know. But as of now, I want to do both. Since that's the case, all I can do is keep working towards both.
At least with my studying I've been able to fly through the book so far. In 2 weeks I've been able to read 1/3 of the 800 page book. But only because the book is telling me things that I already know and use on a daily basis, and not because I'm having to study it to learn new things.