A Partner’s Perspective on Certification: Part 2
by Erin Marchak
I was skeptical when the concept of Acquia Certification was presented to me. Certifications for open source software can often feel like a cash-grab to independent developers. I was pleased to discover how challenging the certification exam is, especially because I consider myself to be a strong full-stack Drupal developer. I learned things by studying for it, and for a developer, increasing your knowledge is always valuable.
As I look back on the experience, I feel like there are two unique sets of benefits for developers:
1. As a developer working in a team, studying for the exam together helps you build common approaches to implementation.
My team prepared for the exam together — we spent a handful of nights reading documentation, quizzing each other and (most frequently) arguing about the best way to implement something. It was a great bonding experience for us, not only in the warm nostalgia of the caffeine and pizza fuelled study sessions, but in the debate over “the best way” of implementation.
The majority of the exam is structured as an example client request, where you must select a way to implement it. For example "Make a blog page listing posts by date.”, or “Create a Contact Us form.”
My team found that we often differed on what approach to use, even though we all came up with solutions that would deliver the request. The question we had to answer became “What approach is best?” instead of “What approach will work?"
We became a better team through this. Everyone gleaned additional knowledge outside of their area of expertise. A database wizard learned best practices on theme hook suggestions. A views expert learned about security practices.
We grew because we worked through this as a team. We feel more comfortable sharing work, since we built consensus over “what approach is best.”
2. As a developer working independently, having the certification helps you justify your pricing.
When I worked as an independent contractor, I can’t think of the number of times I’d be undercut by another developer on a contract only to be hired later to fix their work. They must have never heard the phrase “You’ll always end up buying the good one, but it’s up to you if you want to buy the cheap one too."
Those clients had no quantitative way to gauge quality of work, so they failed to see the benefits of going with an higher quality developer. The Acquia Certification provides an extra tool to frame this discussion and speaks in terms that are accessible to a non-technical person.
Similar to before, this certification is an assurance that you can (and will!) develop in a standardized, recognizable way. Your code is not only more secure, but is legible, coherent and the product that you’re building will be maintainable in the future.
And who doesn’t want that?