As a trainer I am occasionally asked if there is any Certification available after the training and all I can offer is a certificate of completion or attendance.
(There is definitely a cultural difference where some countries and cultures place a high value on formal qualifications.)
In the final days of Mambo I was excited about the possibility of the project offering a more formal "official" certification process. That never happened and today I am glad it didn't as I do not believe that there is any real value in certification or that it can work in the real world.
Why have a certificate?
The inference of a certificate is that in some way the holder of the certificate can prove that they have achieved a certain level of knowledge. Training alone can not provide that, there must be a form of examination to ensure that the trainee has absorbed the knowledge. If I was to receive a certificate in Joomla web site development that will by its vary nature indicate to others that I have certain skills and abilities. Training alone can not do that without examination.
What does a certificate mean?
Even with training and examination what does the certificate mean? Does a certificate in joomla web site development mean that I know how to install and configure Joomla or does it mean that I know how to develop custom applications for Joomla.
If you have ever had the misfortune to work on a web site that someone else has built I'm sure you will have scratched your head at times wondering how and why it has been built the way it has. Perhaps the original site builder had a reason or perhaps it was a lack of knowledge, but the web site worked, after a fashion. Could that site builder have a certificate?
Will there need to be multiple certificates? Perhaps Installer, Template designer, Extension developer, Content strategist etc. Each of these is a specific skill that in my opinion requires specific certification.
Which version does the certificate apply to?
There are currently three versions of Joomla out there in the real world. Each is unique in their own way. Can one certificate really apply to multiple Joomla versions or would there need to be a different certificate for each release.
Is there a liability?
If a customer is comparing two suppliers for a new web site and one was certified and the other was not then the customer would perhaps chose the certified one. If that doesn't turn out to be a productive relationship will the customer wish to complain to the certification provider? After all the certification provider is stating that the holder of the certificate has certain skills so if they don't then surely the certificate should be revoked and there would need to be a process for this.
Who gets the certificate?
In the old old days of Novell Netware it was essential that a company employed Netware Certified installers before they could install Netware for a client. The certificate ONLY applied to the person who had completed the course and passed the exams and not to the employer. If the employee left then the certification and its rights went with them.
If you are a company of 10 people will every current and future member of staff have to hold the certificate before you can claim to be "certified". If not then how does the customer know that the work they are commissioning will be carried out by a "certified" person. Would there need to be a minum number fo certifed employees before a company can claim to be certified?
How do you get a certificate?
To receive a certificate there must be an "awarding body". If this body is to have any credibility then it must have some method of verifying the relevant skills before issuing the certificate. This is usually done through a process of examination and this process must be trustworthy. So not an online examination process where the identity of the examinee can not be verified.
Would it be fair and equal if all examinees were forced to take the examination in the english language. If you never use English in your Joomla work then the examination would be in that language. If so then how many languages have to be covered, surely at least all the languages that Joomla is available in.
Validating the certificate
How can a customer ensure that the person really is the holder of the stated certificate. There must be a method available for them to confirm this with the "awarding body".
Cost of the certificate?
Even if the certificate does not require anyone to purchase any formal training, text books or complete coursework there will be a cost for examination. In a global world how can we ensure that the cost of the certificate is appropriate for all.
Is there a successful model elsewhere?
The Linux Professional Institute (LPI) has been offering certificates in Linux for over 10 years. You do not have to take part in any formal training or coursework but you must take an exam. This exam is conducted at training centres around the world to guarantee that the examinee is who they say they are.
The LPI offer certification at multiple levels BUT you must have a level 1 certificate before you can take a level 2 etc
Currently the examinations are available only at Pearson VUE but they used to be available at Linux conferences as well. Note the cost of the examinations $173 is the same globally with no account made for the cost of living etc (source Exam Costs
Typo3 follow almost the same model as the LPI. They also exclusively use Pearson VUE for the examination with the cost per examination, €200, also making no account for the cost of living etc (source TYPO3 certification.) Typo3 only offer one generic certificate.
NOTE that both of these certification programs are only available in the English language.
On paper Joomla certification sounds like a great idea but I hope that I have explained the reasons why I no longer look forward to this.
Before responding I hope that you consider all the factors, cost, validity, relevance and for me most importantly how a certificate would work in a fair and equal way across the globe for users who speak multiple languages and where the cost of living varies so much.