[nycphp-talk] Zend PHP Certification

Chris Shiflett shiflett at
Sun Jun 20 15:34:31 EDT 2004

--- Tim Gales <tgales at> wrote:
> I guess I wasn't too clear there -- I was trying to restate  
> the case (from earlier in the thread) that a certification in 
> the language alone would not be of much value.

Well, I guess time will tell. As someone looking for PHP talent right now,
I can say that this would at least be somewhat useful to me. Yes, I'm not
about to choose candidates based solely upon whether they are certified,
but I currently have to spend a lot of my time just to weed out those who
are definitely underqualified. I feel pretty confident that someone who is
capable of passing this test is worth taking the time to speak with.

I think finding good programmers is a very difficult task - at least it is
for me. And, I tend to value other qualities more than programming
proficiency. The creativity and intelligence of the person are more
important than their syntactical knowledge to me. Then there's the
important beer test - is this someone you can enjoy having a beer with?
Stated differently, personality matters a lot. I feel confident that a
friendly, creative, and intelligent person will make a great employee, and
I can probably teach them anything they lack. Because of the perspective I
take, this certification could take care of the question, "Does this
person know PHP well enough to be a candidate?"

That's all.

> When it comes to talking about the level of expertise and 
> and knowledge required to pass the 'this certification' you 
> (and Daniel) are infinitely more qualified than I am to talk 
> about that -- you helped create the Zend test questions.

There is a psychometrician who is responsible for calibrating the test
according to the level of expertise required, and I don't really know much
about this at all. I'm not even sure if I spelled it correctly. :-)

> But I don't believe that I might be thinking that the 
> Zend certification (test) will not be broad in terms of how 
> 'PHP interoperates with many technologies' -- just the 
> reverse, I mentioned that I thought it might take more than 
> 70 or so questions to cover all the areas mention in the 
> '12 chapters' -- again I don't have any real knowledge on 
> that (not knowing what the questions are). And it could very
> well be, that the questions in their final form will adequately
> cover what needs to be tested.

I see what you mean now. After trying to come up with questions, I have
found that it's pretty easy to make a question where someone is going to
have a hard time choosing the right answer if they don't know several
different things. In fact, I found it more challenging to focus questions
on only a few things (or one specific area of knowledge). I'm not sure if
that even makes sense.

> "Est. No.J. Dist co. catering to Fortune 500 clients seeks 
> talented Staff Acct. Duties: monthly, quarterly & y-end closing. 
> Maint GL, AR, AP, sales track, invent control, reporting & acct
> recs. Must possess a BA/BS in Acctg w/min 3 yrs exp. Strong
> analytical & Excel skills a must. Knowl of Great Plains is a + ."

Small software company seeks talented Web applications developer. Duties:
create Web applications that are secure, robust, and scalable. Must
possess a BS in computer science or similar field. Must work well with
others and have strong analytical skills.

I've never seen a job post like this in my life.

My point is that the two industries are very different, and it doesn't
make sense to me to be trying to draw parallels. I've seen Web
applications developer postings that even specify the text editor to be
used to write code. Of course, I would argue that the current approach in
the computer industry is very broken (the accountant job post seems much
more appropriate), but that's just the way it is.

> But the job requirement go something like: " 4 yrs exp 
> Java and knowledge of CGI scripting in a UNIX environment..."

Yes, and this just reiterates my point. I have seen more than my share of
job postings that think Java == Web development. What they really want is
an experienced Web applications developer, and what they ask for is 4
years of experience in Java. They even did this before Java was 4 years

> Well I won't get into where's the more appropriate place 
> to put one's certification.
> However, many, many -- if not all - Microsoft Certified 
> Solution Developers have 'MCSD' prominently displayed on 
> their business cards. (It is one of the motivating factors in 
> becoming certified) -- it is definitely not less common.

Well, MCSD is different. In fact, I imagine that MCSD poses the greatest
challenge to Zend, because it has devalued the whole idea of
certifications. Far too many people think that certifications are
absolutely worthless, and the number of clueless MCSDs is a big reason
behind this. If I were an MCSD, I can guarantee you that it would be my
dirty little secret. There's no way I would devalue my resume by
mentioning that.

Cisco certifications are much more respected and better illustrate your
point, and these also have nice little acronyms to add to your business
card. But, these types of certifications require a strong theoretical
foundation verified through an extensive series of tests, whereas knowing
a programming language only requires a bit of practical knowledge.

I think job candidates need to be careful what they "brag" about and
where. If you're too proud that you know PHP, it makes people like me
wonder whether you have anything else to offer. As you have said, PHP is
just a tool. It's sort of like those people who mention knowing Microsoft
Office on their resume; I'm sure that's appropriate for some things, but I
immediately eliminate them from consideration for any technical position.

> There I couldn't agree with you more -- time will tell.

Yep, we will see. :-)

Thanks for the friendly debate.


Chris Shiflett -

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