Zend: How You Can Profit From PHP Certifications – with Debbie Otterstetter

by Mirek Burnejko

Debbie OtterstetterThis is an interview with Debbie Otterstetter from Zend (The PHP Company).

Zend is a contributor to PHP and the creator of the core PHP scripting engine, the Zend Engine.

On the list of IT certifications, you can find almost 2000 certifications, but only few for developers and only two for PHP coders. Let’s find the answer are these certifications important?

In this interview you will find:

  • What are the benefits of the Zend certifications?
  • Why Zend builds the exams with the community?
  • How the Zend website can help you with becoming a PHP master?
  • Why you should pass a ZCE exam today and do not wait for an update?

IT Certification Master: It is a pleasure to have you here Debbie. Tell us something about you and your work in Zend.

Debbie Otterstetter: Hi, thanks for speaking with me! I am the Training & Certification Manager here at Zend. I joined almost 3 years ago with more than 15 years experience in High Tech Software Support Management. My job is to manage the training business and the Certification process for the Zend Certified Engineers program.

ICM: There are not too many companies that provide certifications and trainings for PHP. Tell me what is the goal of the Zend certifications?

DO: The goal of the Zend PHP Certification program is to allow PHP professionals to attain the “Zend Certified Engineer” designation showing their expertise with PHP programming. This is identical in concept to other well know certification programs such as “Microsoft’s Certified Professionals (MCP)” and the “Sun Certified Java Programmer (CSJP)” programs.

ICM: You provide many amazing benefits for certified people. Can you tell me something about it?

DO: When someone becomes a ZCE they are listed in the Zend Yellow Pages (a listing of all ZCEs worldwide) making it easy for companies to verify and find qualified PHP Developers. ZCEs are invited to join our ZCE LinkedIn group to share information amongst their peers and ZCEs are offered discounts to technical conferences like ZendCon.

One of the most popular benefits is that Zend provides ZCEs with a FREE perpetual (no updates included) copy of Zend Studio and access to Zend Server.

ICM: What is the real value for the employers who had Zend Certified Engineers in their teams?

DO: The benefit to employers in hiring ZCEs is that they know they are hiring qualified developers who have proven their expertise level through the certification exam. The productivity and quality provided to the companies by qualified developers provides huge value.

ICM: Who should think about ZCE PHP and ZCE Zend Framework? A person who starts as a developer or maybe only a developer with a lot of experience?

Zend CertificationsDO: Everyone, at all levels, should consider becoming a ZCE. Of course, some will need more time to prepare to pass the exam than others. We have had developers tell us that adding the ZCE logo to their CVs has greatly improved the amount of job offers and % of salary increases they receive. If you feel you need assistance to learn more about PHP or Framework, Zend does offer a complete set of training programs.

ICM: I have pointed that in the article about ZCE PHP 5.3 certification: Zend has an amazing set of training materials (free and paid). Should we use these materials as a preparation to the Zend certifications.

DO: Yes, we encourage all to use our FREE Study Guides for both the PHP & Zend Framework exams. They include a lot of helpful hints about how to best prepare for the exam, what topics will be covered and a few mock exam questions to help determine if you are ready to take the exam. These can be found on our website under our Certification FAQ’s “What Other Resources are Available” section. Zend also offers Test Prep classes for both PHP & Zend Framework. These classes are taught on-line and have live instructors who help to prepare you for the exam. The on-line classes also include the exam voucher and 3 mock exams. If attending the on-line class doesn’t work for you, we also have a recorded training offering for the Test Prep: PHP 5.3 Certification class. You can find prices and more information here.

ICM: I know that the Zend certifications aren’t based only on mySQL. Is mySQL enough for a preparation or should we train with MSSQL and Oracle?

DO: MySQL is sufficient; SQLite would also be okay. The key thing they will need to focus on is *standard* SQL. For more info please refer to the PHP Certification Exam page. To look up the standards, you can refer to these articles: SQL and SQL 2008

ICM: How about the Education Advisory Board? If they really help to create the exams?

DO: Yes, we do use an Education Advisory Board who are Subject Matter Experts selected from the PHP and Zend Framework communities. They help determine what should be on the exam to best establish the curriculum criteria necessary to demonstrate expertise in PHP and Zend Framework. They also help to create the actual questions on the exam itself.

ICM: Do you have plan for new Zend certifications and for any upgrade of the ZCE PHP and Zend Framework certification?

DO: We do update our curriculum and certification exams as new major versions become available. For example, later this year Zend Framework 2.0 (currently in Beta) will be released. After the release, we will work with the Advisory Committee to update the Zend Framework Certification exam.

One thing to note is that your certification doesn’t expire. So if you are ready to take the exam, do it!

Start reaping the benefits of becoming a ZCE as soon as you can. If you decide to update your certification after newer releases come out, that is an option and does show that you are keeping current with the technology. However, that is your option.

ICM: What other certification programs and technologies you recommend to people with the Zend certifications? What give them the biggest value?

DO: We find that those with both PHP and Zend Framework ZCE status have the most powerful combination. Having both Zend certifications can open many doors of opportunity for you!

[This is part of the Interviews with Vendors Series]