Is there a WordPress Certification for Developers?

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While there are a variety of sites where you can take courses and end up with a digital certificate showing off your WordPress know-how, there are no official certificates for WordPress developers.

Developers who want to focus on WordPress don’t need any certificate to prove they have the skills required to deliver an amazing WordPress site. They are welcome to go after any particular coursework for WordPress to improve their skill set and stay competitive.

But any program that offers certificates for WordPress development generally has little market penetration, meaning the value of the certificate itself isn’t particularly high. Learning should be its own value in this space.

Developers that want to prove their skills to employers are better served by leaning on their experience and references. More and more, companies are using skill testing platforms to determine candidate talent. So the best bet for job seekers is to be talented.

Certified for What?

There is a breadth of definitions behind the moniker, “WordPress Developer”. As WordPress is such a vast creature with a variety of functions, the developer that one company needs differs greatly from what another company needs.

Having a certificate for WordPress development is like having a certificate for Google. You know that the certified person knows things about Google (presumably), but beyond that, it would be pretty vague.

There are some delineations that could shed some light on what a WordPress developer’s skills may be. Here are some narrower certification ideas.

The Builder

The master of plugins, Designers know what works well together and can avoid conflicts between a site’s moving parts. They know basic CSS and HTML, possibly some JavaScript, but they don’t really venture into the code behind what they work on.

They stay on the admin panel to work their magic. Debugging isn’t in their wheelhouse, though they might know some. Their aim is to make the front end look good.

The Themer

A Themer has basic knowledge of PHP, CSS, and some JavaScript, but could not be called a coder. They are able to diagnose problems, which they then report to developers for fixing.

When finding issues with a theme or template, they have some ability to debug them. They live in the space between The Designer and The Coder.  

The Developer

This developer is all about the code, the through-and-through programmer. They aren’t designers or themers and do not necessarily want to be. They make sites function and do it with a proud efficiency. Providing lean and beautiful code, they are motivated to make sites quick, powerful, and functional.

You’ll want a designer to make it look pretty though. The coder is great for building plugins, developing custom themes from existing designs, and making all the moving parts of an eCommerce store work cleanly together.

The Unicorn

Nobody should expect a unicorn when they visit a ranch. Expect a horse.

Same goes for the WordPress developer that does it all. These digital unicorns do exist, but you should not expect that they will end up sitting across from you in an interview. But one can hope.

Unofficial Certifications

If you search for “wordpress certification”, you will be able to bumble through a number of sites offering coursework and an eventual certification in exchange for money.

The issue with not having any official WordPress certification is that you’ll have a bunch of sites offering their own certifications with no guarantee of quality behind their paywall. And, will prospective employers even care about that particular certification? Maybe, but maybe not.

This again brings up the subject of what type of WordPress certification/coursework they are selling and what kind you want. One prominent search engine result for “wordpress certification”, under closer inspection, does not actually offer “development” coursework. Rather, through their classes, you can learn to effectively use the admin panel to create websites. No coding.

While these are great skills to learn, you might be able to get as much from Lynda.com at a much-reduced cost. If you are just looking to learn, it is a great choice to develop your skills.

The place to show off those skills is in real life web projects. And, with the advent of skills testing platforms, you can show off your development skills without trying to be a super salesman for them.

Conclusion

The moral of the story is don’t rely on certifications, as a job seeker or as an employer. Further, understand the type of WordPress developer you want to be or need at your company.

WordPress developers should become good at developing in WordPress, in whatever form that may come, and use that skill on real projects. When they look for a new job, they can be confident in their abilities by showing off these projects and possibly taking a skills assessment.

Companies should use skill testing to find talented developers of the type they need. Certification from some random website is fine, but may not explain their true skills. Looking beyond the resume initially in this way can allow you to create a shortlist of qualified developers.