A few months ago, I posted a blog about what ZCE is, as a follow up to a talk about becoming a Zend Certified Engineer. Since then, people have been in touch asking why you would take the ZCE exam and whether it’s worthwhile. Because, after all, it is a real challenge. So I thought I would share my thoughts here.
Personally, I took my ZCE exam for that exact reason: the personal challenge. I wanted to prove to myself that I could. It’s not an easy test, and it covers a lot of ground including a fair few abstract, lesser known parts of PHP. I’ve been writing PHP for over ten years, but there were still parts of the language I had never worked with. ZCE gave me the opportunity – and the excuse – to explore those.
The ZCE qualification is a rubber stamp. It shows that you are someone who can not only code their specific flavour of PHP, but who also has a broader understanding of how the language works.
At the time of writing this article there are 997 Zend Certified Engineers in the UK. No one is saying that those 997 developers are the best PHP developers in the UK – there are certainly many fantastic PHP developers out there without the ZCE certification. But how do you measure skills in PHP? A certification like ZCE enables you to differentiate yourself as a developer – and goes a long way toward proving that you know your stuff.
The general advice provided by Zend is that you should have between 2 and 3 years of professional PHP development experience before taking the ZCE exam. While that amount of time means you’re likely to have experienced a large amount of the content in the real world, I do believe you can do it sooner. I’ll be the first to say that experience trumps qualifications, but when starting out as a developer, you need as much evidence on your side as possible. A portfolio is one of the best ways of doing this – that’s why the students at Mayden Academy build a portfolio during the course – and industry recognised qualifications – like ZCE – are another.
A ZCE qualification also proves to employers that you’re committed to growing your skillset. It requires serious dedication, and it isn’t essential. Having ZCE under your belt is evidence of your motivation and of the attitude you take to your work.
So, is ZCE worth doing? In summary, yes – I believe so. If you are a fairly new developer, being able to say you have taken the ZCE already differentiates you from the crowd. It shows employers that you are serious about your career and about your personal development, and that you have both practical and theoretical knowledge. And who doesn’t love having extra letters after their name?!
Next time a job is between you and a similarly experienced developer, ZCE could tip the balance in your favour.