Continuing along with my series of reviews of Acquia Developer Certification exams (see the previous one: Drupal 8 Site Builder Exam, I recently took the Back End Specialist – Drupal 8 Exam, so I'll post some brief thoughts on the exam below.
Acquia finally updated the full suite of Certifications—Back/Front End Specialist, Site Builder, and Developer—for Drupal 8, and the toughest exams to pass continue to be the Specialist exams. This exam, like the Drupal 7 version of the exam, requires a deeper knowledge of Drupal's core APIs, layout techniques, Plugin system, debugging, security, and even some esoteric things like basic webserver configuration!
Another year, another Acquia Certification exam... (wait—I think I've said that before).
The latest of the updated Acquia Certification Exams is the Acquia Certified Drupal 8 Site Builder. It's meant for the average Drupal site builder to test and evaluate familiarity with building websites using Drupal 8, and it's the same as all the previous exams in style: a series of 40 questions posed in the conversational manner, with answers you would provide if you were telling a project manager or site owner how you would implement a feature.
Another year, another Acquia Certification exam...
I'm at DrupalCon New Orleans, the first North American DrupalCon since the release of Drupal 8. In addition, this is the first DrupalCon where the Acquia Certified Developer - Drupal 8 Exam is being offered, so I decided to swing by the certification center (it's on the 3rd floor of the convention center, in case you want to take any of the certification exams this week!) and take it.
After taking the trifecta of Acquia Developer Certification (General, Back-end, Front-end) exams and earned a new black 'Grand Master' sticker, I decided to complete the gauntlet and take the Acquia Certified Drupal Site Builder Exam at DrupalCon LA.
Taking the test in Acquia's testing center was a welcome reprieve from taking the exams online. There's much less of a 'big brother' feel when you don't have a 'sentinel' application running on your computer and a camera focusing on your face the entire time. Also, the exam room is nice and quiet, and has a good 'library' vibe to it.
Previously, I posted my thoughts on the Acquia Certified Developer - Back End Specialist exam as well as my thoughts on the Certified Developer exam. To round out the trifecta of developer-oriented exams, I took the Front End Specialist exam this morning, and am posting some observations for those interested in taking the exam.
My Theming Background
I started my Drupal journey working on design/theme-related work, and the first few Drupal themes I built were in the Drupal 5 days (I inherited some 4.7 sites, but I only really started learning how Drupal's front end worked in Drupal 5+). Luckily for me, a lot of the basics have remained the same (or at least similar) from 5-7.
For the past couple years, though, I have shied away from front end work, only doing as much as I need to keep building out features on sites like Hosted Apache Solr and Server Check.in, and making all my older Drupal sites responsive (and sometimes, mobile-first) to avoid penalization in Google's search rankings... and to build a more usable web :)
A little under a year ago, I took the Acquia Certified Developer exam at DrupalCon Austin, and posted Thoughts on the Acquia Drupal Developer Certification Exam. My overall thoughts on the idea of certifications for OSS like Drupal remain unchanged, so go read that previous post to hear them.
I wanted to post a little more about the additional certifications Acquia is now offering; in addition to the initial, more generalist-oriented Acquia Certified Developer Exam, Acquia now offers:
- Acquia Certified Developer-Back End Specialist Exam
- Acquia Certified Developer-Front End Specialist Exam
- Acquia Certified Drupal Site Builder Exam
Earlier today, I took the Back End Specialist Exam, which focuses more specifically on things like Drupal's core API, general PHP syntax and style, secure code, content caching, debugging, and interacting with the Drupal community.
Like the other certification exams, you get 90 minutes to complete the exam (60 questions total), and you have to take the exam either online or in a testing center with an active proctor. This time, I elected to take the exam on my own computer, which was a little more annoying than taking the exam in-person at a test center (as I did at DrupalCon last year).
tl;dr: I passed, the exam is better than I was expecting, but I still have mixed feelings about Acquia's Drupal Developer Certification program.
When I first heard about Acquia's Drupal Certification Program, I had mixed feelings. For most programming jobs, especially the majority of web-related jobs, a certification doesn't hold a lot of weight. Certifications are often like final exams for a university course—they show that you know a particular set of material, but they don't indicate whether you can actually use that knowledge effectively.* Further, tech-based certifications are less meaningful over time, as technology progresses and the tested knowledge required to gain a specific certification becomes less relevant.