How to become a Zend Certified Engineer?

PHP 5 Zend Certified Engineer is the most known and respected title for PHP developers. Currently, at the end of 2009, there are only 3493 Zend Certified Engineers worldwide. 2542 of them are certified in PHP 5.

Surprisingly it isn’t really hard to pass the exam. With proper approach and materials, it is even quite easy.

Let me share with you a  few tips which will let you pass the exam so you could also be listed on PHP Yellow Pages.

Study Guide

php|architect's Zend PHP 5 Certification Study Guide

I started with reading the php|architect’s Zend PHP 5 Certification Study Guide. It is an official study guide for the certificate.

I read it to get the feeling about the scope of the exam. Every topic found in the test is covered by the guide:

  • PHP Basics
  • Functions
  • Arrays
  • Strings and Patterns
  • XML and Web Services
  • Object-Oriented Programming and Design
  • Streams and Network Programming
  • Security
  • Databases and SQL
  • Web Features
  • PHP 4 and 5 Differences

You have to remember that the study guide itself is not sufficient to prepare for the exam. It is, however, a perfect starting point. It helped me recognize my weaknesses. Once I knew it I could start filling the gaps using other resources.

The book was even kind of boring in some parts. Fortunately, its structure allowed me to read the chapters in the order that suited me best and skip the obvious parts.

PHP Manual

PHP manual is still the largest source of knowledge about PHP. There is no point reading it from start to the very end. However, it is worth using it to fill the knowledge gaps found while reading the php|architect’s guide.

In everyday programming, I often use code completion or manual to get the reference about some of the PHP functions. I don’t need to know everything. That’s what manual is for. The exam, however, requires some level of knowledge about function names or its parameters. It was worth brushing up on my knowledge here. I felt more secure during the exam later.

Practice Tests

Zend offers online practice tests. Just like the study guide, it let me learn more about the scope of the exam. It also let me feel how the test will look like. Bearing all the above in mind, I set my focus on certain topics and question types.

The rules of practice test are the same as the real exam. Questions are also similar. Especially if it’s about the form and level of complexity. I can safely advise buying a few tests before taking the exam.

On-line Materials

Not everything can be found in the manual or study guide. The rest is on the Internet.

Many people blog about their experiences with the exam. They often publish the results of practice tests. It is worth reading it but be careful. Answers are not official and I wouldn’t rely on them. Some are just wrong.


Among many courses, Zend offers training which should prepare you for PHP 5 Certification Exam. I didn’t do it and to be honest, I don’t think it is worth it.  The course is a review of PHP. It aims at intermediate and advanced PHP developers. Coders with some practice won’t learn there too much I think. It doesn’t teach PHP so it isn’t even an option for the beginners.


Once you feel you’re ready to purchase your certification voucher. Then you will need to schedule the exam in the nearest Pearson VUE testing centre. There are many authorized centres worldwide so you shouldn’t worry about your location too much.

Good luck!


  1. I fully agree. I purchased ten of them and it was too much. Good thing is I could give few practice tests to my colleagues.

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