I have been working with FileMaker for two months.
Can you share your thoughts on becoming certified; specifically in terms of when to do it, should I take a class first, is it worth doing, do I need more experience?
At a minimum, get through the training series, the first part (basics) is free and I highly recommend the advanced one when you're done with the first.
There are also many good trainers around that can help get you up speed quickly in a instructor led environment, and there's also a video training series available at lynda.com.
I wonder what the average level of experience one has when they pass the exam. THe first time I took it, after 4 years of development, I failed. However, I wasn't working in it full time and didn't study well enough. I know a colleague who took it and passed with less than a year of experience.
I will say experience does help: If you're able to work with all apsects of the platform, you'll have a better base from which to draw while answering the questions. Again, I had been putting layouts together and writing scripts for 4 years, but that didn't prepare me for server and external sources.
Check out the training series. Read white papers on this site, and read FM's help itself. That's where you'll get the knowledge you need to know. DO every exercise so that you get the feel of it.
Mike and Jeremy have given you great informaton about how to prepare for the certification exam, and what to expect.
You also asked, "is it worth doing?" That's difficult to answer, because it really depends on what you are planning to do with FileMaker.
For example, if your goal is to work for one of the larger FileMaker consulting companies, then it is a safe bet that they're going to want you to either already be certified or to get certified within a certain amount of time of being hired. If you are looking for a position as an in-house developer, then certification might not be necessary at all. If you are looking to "go solo" and/or open your own FileMaker firm - or do some freelance work - then I think you will find that having the certification might help attract prospective clients and land projects.
Over the years, I've had the opportunity to interview a number of developers (over on FileMaker Addict), and their answers to the question "how important is your certification?" have ranged from "very" to "not at all." You might want to check out some of the interviews to see what they said.
Anyway, I hope this gives you a few things to consider.
I was a developer for over 20 years before going for my first certification. Why? Because as an in-house developer at a large government site, certification didn't make any difference. It was only when I started a side business that it mattered. So "is it worth doing" is largely a matter of your credibility with potential clients. If you're strictly in-house at a company where they don't care, then no, it's not worth it (unless you just want the feather in your cap). But otherwise, I would say yes, it's worth it.
Others have given great advice on what to study. I will simply add that, despite having been "doing it" for many years, had I not studied, I doubt I would have passed the exam. So ... study.
Thanks Mike! Good advice.
Good info Tim. Thanks a bunch!
Thanks for your thoughts here Mike.
Good deal Jeremy. Thanks.
Mike's comments are pretty good about it primarily being a benefit if you're having to sell your services verses being in-house where they have hired you and do not need to be sold on your technical abilities. And if you run your own business, it can help with things such as "general business liability" insurance and "errors and omissions" insurance.
The test is a tough test. I was certifed in FM 12 and studied the FileMaker Training series really hard and passed on my first try, but I'm sure I only barely passed (they didn't used to give you scores then). I took the FM 13 certification exam without studying so much thinking I would cruise through with my casual knowledge and failed it my first time, had to study up and take it a 2nd time to pass. What I will tell you about the test is that there are a lot of red herrings and for most questions, if you know the answer on your first read through, you probably got it wrong. Read each question VERY carefully and methodically work through each answer being wary of things like absolutes when there may be alternative methods of solving a problem.
Lastly, if you have only been working with FileMaker for 2 months, I doubt you will be experienced enough to pass such a rigorous test. Then again, maybe you're one of these really smart people that test well. I am not. As long as you don't mind the expense and time, taking it is not a waste. You will learn a lot of the tough types of questions that are asked and would really help you study for taking it again down the road and with a little more experience. Just think of it as a study test.
I find this to be a great question!
I don't think that just because a developer is Certified, that they're perfect for a client's needs, or that they can solve every complex or abstract problem with FileMaker. Certification can't test for analysis skills, problem solving skills, etc. What is can test for is a foundation of knowledge that goes above and beyond what an intermediate to advanced level developer may have. I don't think it's a guarantee of one's ability to leverage FileMaker competently, but it does mean you really know how it's intended to leveraged, how it should be levereged, best practices, etc.
On the flip side, I don't think it's a safe assumption to assume that every non-certified developer lacks in-depth knowledge and skill of FileMaker, and that they can’t possibly help you or accomplish a client's needs.
We're certified in versions 8 through 13 and have mutliple developers certified because we think it sends a message of credibility, longevity, stability and ability to our clients and potential clients. We don't think it's for everybody, like in-house developers. We do think if you intend to be hired by a larger company, especially a Platinum company, or you want to start a development company, you probably should get certified and stay current on your certifications.
There's a lot of great input on this post and I'm glad you asked this question. I think there's a lot of emphasis and debate around certification and I enjoy reading everyone's input here!
-Crystal D. Smith
The formal name for those red herrings is "plausible distractors."
You will likely find this overview helpful as it describes the processes used to develop the exam, and the topics you need to study.
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