Becoming Laravel Certified

Despite a busy festive season plus a little exam anxiety I'm officially a Certified Laravel Developer 🎉 and Taylor Otwell promises to bare-knuckle box anyone who says otherwise.

Portrait of Joby Harding

By Joby Harding

Ok, ok I’m not 100% that Laravel's creator defends the honour of certificate holders with threat of physical force; since just over a week ago I have a verifiable piece of digital paper proving I've passed the Laravel Certification technical exam and in my book that's almost as good. If you're interested what it looks like you can download mine from the site footer 👇

Over the last few years I’ve been developing client projects almost exclusively with the superb Laravel Framework, building complex back-office systems, automating tasks and integrating with third party services. I’ve developed a handful of Laravel packages and made a few core contributions along the way. I didn’t need to become certified but I felt it would motivate me to study parts of the framework I hadn't yet required for projects and get some official recognition of my expertise along the way. The entrance fee for the exam also contributes towards the ongoing development of Laravel 🙌

When I explained this to my partner, also in the tech industry, she thought I’d lost my marbles.

So one afternoon in early October I bought a voucher and signed up for the exam giving me 3 months in which to take it. I decided to prepare by reading through Laravel’s online documentation from start to finish during November, aiming to sit the exam before Christmas. Over the years I’ve read most of the documentation ad-hoc as relevant to projects at the time but never doggedly, end-to-end, like a novel. When I explained this to my partner, also in the tech industry, she thought I’d lost my marbles.

In all it took me about two weeks reading for an hour or so after our evening meal on work nights. Any longer than this and I found I wasn’t really taking it in. Through the process I discovered a number of hidden gems I previously overlooked or had been added to the framework since my previous visit. The sort of things you may not find if you’re looking for something specific, in the way documentation is normally accessed. These included convenience methods, syntactic sugar and alternative ways to configure core functionality which have already made their way into live projects.

Through the process I discovered a number of hidden gems I previously overlooked or had been added to the framework since my previous visit

Soon enough it was the start of December. Rather than quietening down as expected, client work was in full swing and personal preparations for the festive season started early due to a rapidly spreading Coronavirus variant. The thought of getting the exam in as well was bringing back some low level feelings of academic anxiety akin to a recurring dream of mine in which I’m trying to get months of university coursework done in a matter of days 😅. I had until the second week in January so decided to postpone and give myself some breathing space.

After a quiet and thankfully uneventful Christmas, New Year and booster vaccination I was ready and up for checking the exam off my todo list. I thought it wise to spend a couple of evenings refreshing my knowledge following the break. In doing so I realised that my understanding of advanced Laravel queue configuration was lacking and ended up taking a deep dive into that functionality spurring me to dig out the copy of Laravel Queues in Action by core developer Mohamed Said I bought earlier in the year and hadn't yet made time to read. Finally on the 7th January it was time and I hung the “On Call” sign on my office door so I wouldn’t be disturbed for the hour it would take to complete the exam.

As you’d expect the exam is an online affair. Candidates are monitored by a 3rd party proctor (invigilator for those of a certain age from the UK) which records webcam and screen activity to detect indications of cheating. My only grumble with this was a lack of support for Firefox, forcing me to take the exam in browser of the panopticon Chrome. I’m guessing this is due to a lack of support for some JavaScript API required for the recording in Firefox.

To my delight exactly a week later Taylor’s elves had worked their magic

Once you’re done there’s a turnaround of around a week before finding out whether you have passed or failed. I was expecting this to take longer having completed the exam just after New Year when many are still enjoying a well deserved break. To my delight exactly a week later Taylor’s elves had worked their magic and slipped a congratulatory note into my inbox saying I had passed along with a PDF certificate.

So would I do it again? Absolutely. Not straight away though 😆. Who the heck wants more exams in their life? However in my case having that objective helped me carve out time to continue refining my expertise which has already seen practical improvements in my day-to-day.

I also get to say I’m a Certified Laravel Developer 🔥🔥🔥