A little disclaimer first. I’m not going to actually write only about certification in Magento but rather certification itself. I only have one certification and never took any exam beside the ones at school or college. Especially the one in Magento. All I’m about to do here is to show my point of view about certifications as they are, what are the value of certification for me, maybe point out some problems that I encountered. The topic came to me in connection with the Magento certification.
Certifications should have one purpose – to prove knowledge. Everyone get knowledge from somewhere. Being a programmer, you learn by using language of your choice. If you want to become a driver, you’ll have to get driver license which is also a certification that prove your skill and knowledge. If you want to be a carpenter, you will have to start doing furniture, boxes or anything out of wood and if you want to prove yourself, take a vocational course, pass an exam and become certified carpenter. Even if you decide to be a professional lumberjack, you still have to take a course, pass an exam and get certification.
Pretty much every profession can get you opportunity to get certification. But what is the real value of certification?
I know a few people, who took the same exam many times just because they failed it previous time and was determined to pass it no matter what. Eventually they pass, but did they prove anything more than just their determination? If a person takes driver’s license test for tenth time and finally pass it, does it mean that he is a good driver now? HELL NO. That means, he is so shitty driver that he needed to take the same exam so many times to pass it. If a programmer takes the same certification exam for tenth time and finally pass it, does it mean that he is skilled? Of course not. He could be bad in theory but have enough skill to learn and understand new technologies and successfully deliver any implementation. Maybe he passed it, because at tenth time questions started to repeat.
I know a few people, who took an exam, fail it and give up. Does it mean they don’t know anything? Not at all. Do not confuse knowledge with competencies.
I know a few people, who have so many certifications that it must be their hobby just to catch’em all. They spend many hours to get ready for the exam and pass it. Unfortunately knowledge doesn’t go side-by-side with competences and sometimes critical issues may occur only because nobody stopped bad decision in the right moment. I think that looks bad if you have certified specialist on board who’s strongly involved in project. Also in IT, technology can change from month to month. I think that the obtained certification can quickly devalue.
When it comes to Magento Certification I know companies that push their employees to get a certificate only because they have to keep required level of certifications to keep partnership with Magento on decent level. Ok, maybe this is not the only reason, but it looks like a main one and I think you get the picture. Employee is not motivated by his pursuit for knowledge. He is motivated by employer demands. Of course ambitious person will make it a good effort. Unfortunately I’ve met a lot of people who treat it as another task on a promotion checklist.
Certifications should have one purpose – to prove knowledge. I know what I did putting “should” in that sentence. It is really hard to determine the real value of certification. For me it is an individual need to confirm the acquired knowledge. I just don’t have it.