Zend PHP Certification: Necessary or Not?

I have to start this post out with a quick apology for the lack of recent posts. There is a lot going on right now: working on ScoutPath (which launches in June), putting out fires in BadgeTracker and working full time at my day job. All of this leaves little time for blogging (or anything else for that matter). Another thing I’m working on is getting my Zend PHP 5 certification and that brings me to this post. A couple of years ago when Zend first announced the certification I was determined to get certified but just haven’t put my mind to it until recently. However, after studying for the last couple of weeks and taking the practice tests I am left wondering what this certification proves and whether it’s truly worth it.

The Test

For those of you not familiar with the test let me break it down for you:

  • 70 questions
  • a combination of multiple choice (with multiple answers) and short answer
  • you get 90 minutes to complete

The test is taken on a computer in true Who Want’s to be a Millionaire fashion, just without Regis. When done you are told whether you have passed or failed. Now the whole computer test thing is bugging me a little because I had an incident back in college where my laptop shit the bed during a programming final and I was only able to complete part of the test. But I’m sure the test producers have thought of all that ;).

What does it prove?

If I displayed a big long code block here with 2 or 3 lines blanked out with question marks and then asked you to tell me what code should replace the question marks to achieve some final result, could you do it? That’s just one example of the questions asked on this test and I’m racking my brain trying to figure out what knowing the answer to that question proves. Does it show that I know PHP or that I just know the subject matter of that particular script? Or that I can understand confusing questions?

I think the question of what a particular certification really proves pops up now and then within the professional community when people try to put a weight to a specific accomplishment. Is it the difference maker between getting the job or being shown the door? I don’t necessarily think so but that’s a determination each person or company needs to make for themselves.

Is it worth it?

The test costs $125 and your free to spend anything above that on various preparation methods but all considered it’s a pretty cheap proposition. When you pass you are added to the Zend Yellow Pages and you get access to the Zend Certified Engineers LinkedIn group. You can also download a nifty badge to put on your blog and resume but overall these are nice perks. These are in addition to putting it on your resume and such as well which helps you get noticed by employers and bosses and such too.

So, is it worth it? I think so, but that’s a determination you will have to make for yourself.

Wrap up

Becoming PHP certified is a nice feather to put in your cap to differentiate you from the thousands of other PHP programmers out and about. What the questions actually prove is still up for debate but overall I think it will be a good thing. I’m taking the test on Friday so I’ll be sure to post a follow-up on the whole certification process next week.

Stay tuned!