Should Automattic Create and Manage A WordPress Certification Program?

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Peter Schilling thinks so. With WordPress now 10 years old, used across multiple industries, and powering 20% of the web, Schilling thinks it’s time a WordPress certification be created. According to Schilling, if a certification was created and managed by Automattic, it would help decrease the number of clients getting screwed by drive-by developers.

Automattic Is Not WordPress

On paper, having Automattic manage a WordPress certification program to give it weight sounds like a great idea. However, Automattic does not represent WordPress. WordPress is not a product created by a single entity. It’s a world-wide community effort. As Alvaro Santos points out, it’s already hard enough explaining to people that Automattic is not WordPress.

But I don’t understand why should Automattic be the certification provider. WordPress is not Automattic, Automattic is not WordPress. Asking Automattic to certify WordPress professionals is the same as asking Automattic to take WordPress as their own. It’s hard enough as it is to explain to people who WordPress is a community not a company. You probably know a lot of people who calls WordPress “The WordPress”, as if it was a company like Adobe or Microsoft.

Alvaro goes on to say that “the only certification that could be reliable and benign to WordPress itself would have to be given by the WordPress Community, a community of peers.” In this scenario, which organization or group of WordPress development agencies would be considered as the top class to receive a certification from? If the certification provider is just one of many WordPress companies, what’s the point?

Certifications Versus Real World Experience

A few years ago, I obtained my Net+ and A+ Hardware and Software certifications through CompTIA. These certifications were supposed to help me get a job in the technology sector. In reality, the certifications and the education to obtain them were a big waste of money. When applying for jobs, employers routinely asked for candidates to have a minimum amount of experience. For someone just entering the industry and in debt from the certification programs, this was infuriating.

With WordPress, anyone is able to look at the code and learn at their own pace. By creating plugins, themes, and contributing to the core of WordPress, you are building up real world experience. Two years ago, someone asked on the WordPress support forum if you could be certified as a WordPress expert. This response by Mika Epstein which was borrowed from Andrea_r is something to ponder:

Automattic maintains a list of devs on their site. Also, the new profiles at have a checkbox if you want to be listed as a consultant/freelancer, and people will be able to see how active/knowledgeable you are in the community before they decide to hire you.

Which I think is a really good way to go about it. Especially over some nebulous certifications.

VIP Featured Partners

While I was not able to locate a list of developers Automattic maintains, they do have a VIP Service Partners program. In my opinion, working with one of those companies or becoming a VIP partner would do more good than any WordPress certification. In fact, the VIP Partners program could be viewed as the certification program.


WordPress is the most popular PHP/MySQL powered publishing platform used on the web today. While a WordPress certification sounds good, becoming certified in the technologies the software is built upon would be more beneficial. PHP, MySQL, JavaScript, and other developer oriented technology certifications would be more valuable than simply having a WordPress certification. With this foundation, developers could apply their skills to multiple PHP based platforms and make themselves more valuable to employers.

What do you think?

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