As of Friday, December 15th, I earned the title of Zend Certified Engineer. As best as I can remember, the exam concentrated primarily on precedence, casting, array manipulation, and file operations.
To get an idea of what the test process was like, take an 8oz tumbler, add a few ice cubes, fill it with 2oz vodka, 2oz Rose's Lime Juice, and 2oz of Triple Sec. Stir gently, then jam the whole glass into your left eye. Okay, so it wasn't that bad; while stressful, it's manageable... and coincidentally, is a recipe for a Kamikaze.
Certification tests are one of those necessary evils that one must suffer through in the pursuit of professional development. I feel my strengths lie in concepts and structure, and my greatest weakness is the ability to memorize and regurgitate. This is advantageous when doing systems analysis, but it doesn't help when taking a standardized exam specifically designed to test your knowledge by requiring the selection and differentiation between a series of extremely similar solutions.
I'm aware that just because you're good at taking a certification exam doesn't mean you're a good programmer. I do feel that the training that led up to the certification helped me as a programmer as it delved into some of the more obscure aspects of the language. In addition, networking with my classmates was invaluable. I'm glad I went through that process, and I'm equally glad that it's over.
So, what's my next goal? Zend PHP 5? Solaris 10? We'll see...
I'm going to let the dust settle a bit with the fast approaching holidays, and I've got a couple big projects coming up in early 2007; writing a PHP tool to analyze survey results stored in MySQL, writing a working prototype of a job description database in Ruby on Rails, and working with the rest of my department to upgrade the web server, including transitioning from PHP4 to PHP5. That's in addition to my regular writing duties for FreeSoftwareMagazine.com and whatever scraps of a social life I can squeeze out... but first, time to celebrate and relax with my wife.