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How I became a Puppet Certified Professional from home

Hi there, I’m Patrick, a support engineer working out of Puppet's Belfast office. I’ve been with the company for just over a year and one of my main objectives for that first 12 months was to become a Puppet Certified Professional. It’s a requirement for all support engineers so it was something I really wanted to get checked off as soon as possible. Within our Belfast support team, we’re on a bit of hot streak, with the last five engineers all passing on their first attempt. Nothing like some added pressure to really get you motivated!

So, how does one become Puppet Certified, I hear you ask? It's quite straightforward. You just have to pass a computer-based exam composed of 60 multiple-choice questions focused on open source Puppet and Puppet Enterprise.

A successful candidate will be able to administer system infrastructure using Puppet and develop robust modules. They will also have a good knowledge of relevant Puppet documentation, be familiar with accepted practices from the Puppet language style guide and be well versed in the maintenance of relevant OS components.

Our exam gets updated every 12 to 18 months, and the new Puppet Professional 2018 exam became available in September 2018, just in time for me to take it. The new exam still focuses on automating system administration with Puppet, but incorporates some of the newer Puppet functionality such as Bolt and Puppet Tasks. With the new exam also came some administration changes. The exam can now be taken from the comfort of your own home on a date and time which is convenient for you, with the exam being proctored by our certification partner QuestionMark. This is in stark contrast to our old method, which involved visiting a testing centre. I was delighted to find out about the new remote exams as depending on the date, some of my colleagues had to travel two hours to Dublin to take theirs.

Preparing for the exam

In preparation for the exam, I started where just about everyone does: the Puppet Learning VM. This is a great place to start because it provides an interactive tutorial and learning environment to get you started with Puppet.

After this, I took some of the fantastic instructor-led training that Puppet offers: Getting Started With Puppet and Puppet Practitioner. I couldn’t recommend these enough. Getting Started With Puppet provided a guided, hands-on approach to managing infrastructure using the power of all of Puppet’s products. This is ideal for beginners or anyone new to Puppet. Puppet Practitioner was a bit of a step up. It took an in-depth look at how to design, build, and extend modules from the Puppet Forge, and it also provided best practices for implementing roles & profiles.

Finally, I'm lucky that I get to use Puppet on a day-to-day basis as part of my job, and I have a really great team of engineers around me who are always happy to help and lend their expertise. This is definitely where I gained most of my knowledge. So for anyone else wanting to get certified, the more you can get hands-on with Puppet, the better.

Getting closer to my exam, I started to take an in-depth look at the exam objectives. I spent around an hour each day in the two weeks before the exam looking at each of the topics here in detail using our documentation to study each.

Exam day

On the day of the exam, I spent the morning quickly going over a few topics I thought I needed some extra study time on and I prepared my living room and computer for the proctored exam. This involved downloading QuestionMark’s secure browser and checking that my computer’s internet connection was up to the task. The exam proctor does spend quite a while getting you to show them around the room so I would advise having a neat working area before you begin and checking out the rules listed here. You also need to present a photo ID to verify your identity. With all these steps completed, I was then able to take the exam...

So, how did it go? Well, I was very relieved to pass! I did find it very challenging and I was up against the clock quite a bit, finishing all the questions with 10 minutes to spare. Passing my certification has given me huge confidence in my own abilities and it's fantastic to have an official accreditation to show for my first year's work with Puppet. If you want to get Puppet Certified, please follow the links below or if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to get in contact.

Patrick Grant is a support engineer at Puppet.

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