Becoming a Certified Python Developer is a Career Move
Python is the most popular programming language of this decade on this earth. Period.
In the last few years, it has gone leaps and bounds, becoming a de-facto programming language for Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning.
It is indeed a universally accepted general purpose mainstream programming language which is being used in automation,
Given the simplicity of the language, humongous community support and abundant libraries and frameworks provide the least path of learning.
Please note, there is a (shameless) plug about my sample test questions on my Github here, as part of my Become a Certified Python Programmer: PCEP Practice Tests course on Udemy
Is Certification Any Good?
Just the way the world hates or loves Marmite, there are always two schools of thought when it comes to certifications. One school absolutely loathes the idea of certification while others love it! While it is not the right place to discuss the pros or cons, here’s my take on why certification might help you in the long run.
Certifications help you in one of two ways: personally and/or professionally.
You would surely become much more confident and comfortable working with peers and at times providing direction and guidance to a lower rung of the ladder.
There’s also a high chance of you standing out and getting noticed by a recruiter. If there are 10 candidates of a similar caliber, someone with a certification might fly off with the job should other variables are at a tie. You are in a bargaining position too (you could ask for a pay raise!) in your organization once you start climbing your certification ladder.
More than anything else, studying for the certification will bring out the best in you — learning about language in detail. It also promotes a certain level of discipline as preparation for certification is a focussed task. It highlights the need for the “developer discipline” to dig in deep and search for answers through cryptic patterns and quizzes.
What is Python Certification?
As discussed earlier, Python has become a top-notch programming language in the world as of today. This is a curse and boon — the popularity of the language means more developers will be onboarding the Python train — however, differentiating ourselves from million others may be a herculean task.
This is where our mighty certification might help us abundantly (of course don’t keep your hopes high just on your certification) — to keep you standing tall and undoubtedly a potential handy pick.
What Certifications do I need to take?
Few certification authorities provide Python certifications — Python Institute and Microsoft being the widely recognized certification bodies in the world. Python Institute offers three-tier certifications — covering from absolute beginner to professional level. Microsoft on the other hand has a standard certification as of right now.
Certifications from Python Institute
Python Institute created a set of certifications based on the different levels of expertise and experience- starting from entry, associate level to professional level certifications.
PCEP (Entry-Level) Python Certification
The PCEP Certification is an entry-level credential that shows that an individual has a firm grip on the universal concepts of computer programming, like data types, language syntax, semantics functions, conditions, loops, and more.
The programmer must have sufficient knowledge of Python fundamentals and their implementation before trying out the PCEP Certification exam.
This certification demonstrates that you have a good foundation of Python fundamentals and are ready to progress to the intermediate level.
The PCEP (Entry-Level) certification is not a pre-requisite for the PCAP (Associate) or PCPP (Professional) certifications. Although it does help you set yourself apart from other people that are just starting out, giving you an added confidence boost!
You can learn more about the requirements and syllabus here.
It’s a non-proctored (you can take the test anytime as Proctor isn’t required) online 45-minute exam with 30 multiple choice questions/fill-the-gaps/drag-n-drop questions. The pass mark is 70% and the price is $59.
You can learn more about the requirements and syllabus here.
I have uploaded sample questions to Github here, as part of my Become a Certified Python Programmer: PCEP Practice Tests course Udemy
PCAP (Associate Level) Python Certification
The PCAP Certification is slightly higher than the entry-level which deems a professional accreditation at the associate level. It measures whether you are capable of handling basic Python coding tasks, along with the fundamental techniques used in object-oriented programming. One must be proficient in Object object-oriented programming, exception handling, modules and packages, and file handling to get certified at this level. It enables you to advance to a professional level with ease!
The Python Institute mentions that PCAP is a prerequisite for PCPP Certifications, which means that you must already hold an associate-level credential before going for the Professional level Certifications.
There are two exam versions currently available, the PCAP-31–02 and PCAP 31–03. The former one (PCAP-31–02) is based on the older syllabus, so I suggest jumping on to the newer one PCAP-31–03. The PCAP-31–03 certification is based on a new syllabus (predominantly Object Oriented programming, Exceptions, File Handling, and Packages and Modules) so more relevant to day-to-day programming on the job.
You can learn more about the requirements and syllabus here. Have a read through the differences in the topics for the exam on this page while you are here.
PCPP (Professional Level) Certification
The final level of certification that Python Institute offers is a professional one. This is the topmost of all certifications and of course, may require a focussed mind and an experienced hand.
The pre-requisite for this certification is PCAP certification.
There are two exams in this category, PCPP1, and PCPP2, both of these certifications cost $195. The tests consist of 40 questions with a time limit of 65 minutes. The questions are multiple-choice, drag and drop, and fill-in-the-blank type questions. The pass mark is 70% as with all other certifications.
This certification shows that an individual is experienced and expert in object-oriented programming, graphical user interface (GUI) programming, working with SQLite, CSV and XML files as well as good grips on working with modules like Numpy, Mathplotlib, Pandas, SciPy and others. You are also expected to understand and have grips on Python Enhancement Proposals (PEP) like Coding conventions, Python design principles, Docstring conventions, and others.
It is important to note that the PCPP 1 certification is required in order to take the next and last level certification exam, which is the PCPP 2 certification.
PCPP 2 is the last level of certification exam provided by the Python Institute, which demonstrates that you are not only proficient in automating processes using Python, but also in creating Python-related tools, frameworks, and systems. This would obviously deal with more complex concepts like creating and distributing packages, testing principles and techniques, Python network programming, PythonMySQL database, and more.
Having these certifications ensures that you are fully armed with all the advanced concepts that Python 3 has to offer, enabling you to advance your career as a senior/expert level Python developer!
You can read more in detail about the requirements and syllabus here.
The candidate who acquires the PCAP, PCPP-1 and PCPP-2 certifications is recognized as an OpenEDG Python Institute Certified Expert in Python Programming CEPP.
The coolest thing is that there is no expiry date on these certificates. All OpenEDG Python Institute certifications remain valid for a lifetime and there is no need for any renewals!
Certification from Microsoft
Microsoft currently only has one certification exam for Python called MTA 98–381 (Microsoft Technical Associate)
This certification covers the concepts of Python Fundamentals like data types and operators, control flow with decisions and loops, input and output operations, document and structure code, troubleshooting and error handling and operations using modules.
A certified individual would be qualified to work with Python on a professional level and further explore the advanced aspects of the Python language.
More details on the structure here. The cost of this exam is $127,
Now that you’ve decided on what certification to go for, you need to prepare to actually qualify for the certification exams to get certified. You’d want to go through the syllabus, read as much as possible about the Python language, and practice!
There are lots of resources online to learn Python, for example, the Python Institute itself provides course material for PCEP, PCAP certifications — see here.
To truly understand and remember the concepts, practice tests are the best way to go.
There are many practice tests on Udemy, one of which I have created, called Become a Certified Python Programmer: PCEP Practice Tests.
This course consists of 6 practice with 30 questions each; tests which are created similar to what you would face in a real certification exam. Especially, for the PCEP certification as it covers all the concepts in the syllabus.
The accompanying code is available on my GitHub page.
Certifications give you an edge and allow you to progress your professional career in an efficient manner. They would also allow you to evolve personally by giving you a confidence boost in your skills.
There are two widely recognized certifications right now, provided by Python Institute and Microsoft. Each of these certifications is made for different skill levels and appropriate titles.
Now that you have all the information, what are you waiting for? Get started on your journey to becoming a certified Python Programmer!