Sitecore Certification

Having worked with Sitecore for a couple of years, thrown in at the deep end and self taught – I decided it was time to do the certification and get a firm grounding in the software from scratch. Sitecore 8.2 was the latest version at the time, though I realised later that if I’d waited a month, the Sitecore 9 training would have been available! :doh
As of late 2017 there were four eLearning options

  • Sitecore Developer Foundations
  • Sitecore Experience Solution Developer
  • Sitecore Context Marketing Fundamentals
  • Sitecore Web Experience Management

The first one is free and it made sense for me to take advantage. According to Sitecore: “The free Developer Foundations course teaches students how to create data infrastructure, build editable pages, and publish content. During the course, you will build a basic website using the powerful and easy-to-use Sitecore XP tools. Students also build simple MVC components using a text editor and minimal coding.
After completing this short course, which is pretty rudimentary, covering templates, publishing and presentation it was time to shell out for the Sitecore Experience Solution Developer course, which at the time of writing was $1500.
Although I would heartily recommend the training as it does cover a range of topics, obviously it can never furnish you with a command of the whole of the Sitecore ecosystem – the system is far too broad to condense down. Rather see it as a stepping stone to gaining further knowledge and exploring the system. There is no substitute for working on a Sitecore project at a client or partner.

My own experience with the training was mixed. Although it filled in a lot of gaps where I was hazy, especially on the marketing features, the training materials were littered with errors and mistakes which made reading hard going especially when the example wasn’t working despite following the instructions to the letter.

Despite the problems it was good to see references to real world concerns like the use of Glass, Content Search API, IoC and Helix patterns in the training.
The approach to the training is down to the individual. As with any form of study people learn in different ways and what is effective for one person will not work for another.  To get the most out of the training I took the following approach – YMMV:

  • Made my own typed notes throughout each chapter condensing it down into a text file
  • Wrote down every question and answer at the end of each chapter for revision later
  • Carried out every practical workbook exercise locally including the optional ones

Despite the course notes saying it will take approximately twelve hours to complete, the above took me around 2 weeks of evenings studying – so probably around 30 hours. I’m not sure if their estimates includes doing the workbook exercises because if it does I find it very optimistic! The exam consists of 70 multiple choice questions but the time period of 2 hours to complete it is more than enough.
Although this approach is not necessary to pass the exam bit does give you a better grasp of the system overall. And since in any form of life I can’t approach something half-arsed I had to do it this way 😛 The pay off was a good resulting grade but it was still annoying to get some questions wrong and even more annoying to not find out which ones! 
I believe the pass mark is 80%, which does allow you to get 14 questions wrong, however you could probably pass the exam without training if you’ve been using Sitecore for any time at all.

As with a lot of closed-book exams it seems more of a test of memory than competency; you would rarely carry out Sitecore work without access to the Internet or other resources. However there is something to be said IMO for committing the basics to memory so you’re not overly dependent on Google. It also means employers/clients can feel comfortable that in taking you on as a certified developer, they can expect a certain level of knowledge for their money.

Here’s looking forward to taking the Sitecore 9 exam just as v10 is released!

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