The Certification Program
The Integrator Certification (TCCI) was the first exam that was offered by the TYPO3 Association when they launched the certification program in 2008. This followed the Certification for Developers (TCCD) in 2016 and shortly after for TYPO3 Consultants (TCCC) and TYPO3 Editors (TCCE) in 2017.
A number of reasons underline the importance of official certifications. When a service provider or freelancer pitches for TYPO3 work, the potential client often cannot evaluate if the company or its developers are able to keep their promises. How can you assess the quality of the work? Is the suggested approach really state-of-the-art?
References of previously developed websites are not meaningful enough. They possibly look nice and use fancy visual effects in the frontend, but this does not tell anything about the code quality and architecture in the backend. Do custom developed extensions follow the official coding guidelines? Are they update-safe and maintainable in the future? Does the code follow security best practices and do the developers use TYPO3’s APIs correctly?
A professional TYPO3 service provider must have proven competence in order to deliver a project to the client's satisfaction and a proper assessment of the quality of TYPO3 services comes with challenges — in particular, when the assessment is primarily based on information provided by the service provider voluntarily.
That’s where a neutral entity such as the TYPO3 Association comes into play. The official certification program aims to assess and to verify the candidates’ knowledge, and to make sure that they know their trade.
Not only agencies and software development companies have an interest in getting their developers certified. You have a number of benefits as an individual too. The truth is that it's not uncommon for a developer to misjudge their own capabilities - do you really know how extensions can leverage TYPO3’s cache to optimise performance? Are you familiar with the powers and limitations of XCLASSes? The preparation for the exam will possibly reveal a few shortfalls in some areas and give you the chance to catch up before taking the test.
It is important to point out that only individuals can be certified (not companies or organisations). Once certified, the achievement is without doubt a bonus on your resume and likely a good argument in your next salary negotiation. Also, if a career change is due, a certificate may be the convincing factor for the next employer to hire you.
The TYPO3 Education and Certification Committee is responsible for the education strategy and the certification process. The TYPO3 Association’s Board and Expert Advisory Board set up the committee in 2014.
Let’s have a closer look at how a TCCD certification works. The other three certifications (TCCI, TCCC, and TCCE) have similar, but slightly different setups.
All exams are carried out exclusively in English as a general rule. All questions have been developed by TYPO3 experts and are reviewed and kept up-to-date according to strict guidelines. If a candidate fails to pass the exam, it can be retaken as many times as required. A three month waiting period applies after each failed attempt, though.
Today (as of January 2020), TYPO3 certification exams can only be taken at selected TYPO3 events or as in-house exams booked through the TYPO3 GmbH. Events are, for example, TYPO3 conferences, TYPO3 Developer Days, the yearly TYPO3 CertiFUNcation Day, TYPO3camps, etc.
The TCCD exam consists of 75 questions. 4 to 6 possible answers are given for each question. The number of correct answers is stated after the question in brackets. Candidates have 90 minutes to go through the test and mark the correct answers which are multiple-choice options. The candidate has to mark all correct answers for each question. The question is classified as answered incorrectly if the candidate does not mark all correct answers.
Have we aroused your interest in getting certified? Great! So, what are the options of preparing for the exam? Well, reading a few blog posts and tutorials on the internet will not provide you with the knowledge you need to master the TCCD exam.
First and foremost, you need practical experience. The certification aims to assess the candidates’ knowledge, skills, and experience in developing and delivering high quality TYPO3 projects. We assume that candidates are familiar with the official TYPO3 documentation (in particular the section “TYPO3 Explained”) and have planned, developed, documented, maintained, and maybe published TYPO3 extensions in a state-of-the-art way. Your code is clean and follows the TYPO3 Coding Guidelines (CGL).
The recommended approach to prepare for the TCCD certification consists of three parts:
The official syllabus is your guide to what is expected of a certified TYPO3 developer. It contains a complete list of all topics that could possibly be tested in an exam. The syllabus tells you nearly everything you need to know to pass the exam and become certified. Keep in mind that exams are usually based on the current TYPO3 LTS-version (which is TYPO3 v9 LTS at the time of writing).
However, the syllabus does not contain any example questions or further details that let you prepare for the exam. This is covered by the study guide.
TCCD Study Guide
Shortly after the developer certification was launched in 2016, the first edition of the “TYPO3 CMS Certified Developer” book was published by Patrick Lobacher and Michael Schams. Back then, the book was based on TYPO3 v7 LTS and contained 150 example questions, predominantly focused on the Extbase framework and Fluid templating engine. The certification has changed over time though. Today, the exams are based on TYPO3 v9 LTS and have a more general focus on TYPO3's features, APIs, and the core and extension architecture.
In August 2019, Michael was joined by Armin Vieweg, who is not only a long-term member of the TYPO3 Education Committee, but also a highly experienced and professional TYPO3 developer. The outcome of this collaboration is the second edition of the TCCD book published in January 2020.
The study guide covers all exam topics and reflects the style and structure of the real exam. It includes 200 sample questions, possible answers, and clear explanations as to which answers are correct and why. It allows developers to prove their skills in several topics.
The new edition of the TCCD book is now available as an eBook at Leanpub.
Michael also published the 5th edition of the TCCI book (“TYPO3 CMS Certified Integrator”) and the well-known TYPO3 Extbase Book for developers to learn how to build modern TYPO3 extensions with Extbase and Fluid.
SkillDisplay is an online tool that helps you to record, track, and show your skills. Every achieved skill represents a milestone on your learning path and the successful end of a path is your TYPO3 certification. Since the TYPO3 Education Committee uses SkillDisplay to manage the required skills and learning topics for each TYPO3 certification, you can easily track your progress during the exam preparation.
By the way: the official syllabi for TYPO3 certifications are generated based on the data stored in SkillDisplay. This makes SkillDisplay the perfect platform to track your learning progress.
Although this article is predominantly focused on the TYPO3 CMS Developer Certification (TCCD), the other certifications offered by the TYPO3 Education and Certification Committee are very similar. Syllabi also exist for TCCI, TCCC, and TCCE certifications. Besides the official TYPO3 documentation, study guides are available for developers, integrators, and consultants at this point in time.
An up-to-date edition of the “TYPO3 CMS Certified Developer” book was urgently needed to let developers to prepare for the challenging exam. This is now possible again, thanks to Michael and Armin who published the 2nd edition of the study guide earlier this year.
If you represent an agency or development company as an owner, project manager, or team leader, you know how important it is to make sure that your team has expert knowledge and can develop high quality TYPO3 projects. Official certifications show what your team can accomplish and this advantage can be decisive for future projects pitches. As a TYPO3 developer working for an agency, or as a freelancer, you can prove your knowledge and skills by holding an official certificate.
Check out the website to learn more about the certification program or join the channel #typo3-certification on TYPO3’s Slack platform.
Do you have any New Year’s resolutions for 2020? How about learning how to develop modern TYPO3 extensions and get certified? The next exam dates are at the TYPO3camp in Dresden/Germany (January 2020) and at the TYPO3camp in Venlo/Netherlands (March 2020).
There has never been a better time to get certified!
Proofreading: Tony Lush