The Pathway to a New World Skills Validation Program

About a year ago, I talked about how we were going to refresh the Chef Certification program, and the need to update it to match our modernised product line up.  Since then a lot has happened, both at Chef Software and in the world in general. We appreciate your patience as we adjusted our approach to meet the needs of the reality that we now live in. 

During our roadmap planning for the new program, we carefully considered its objectives. The two main intentions are:

  • To show others the skills that you have with Chef software products
  • To demonstrate to our DevSecOps customers that the partners they choose to work with have the skills with Chef Software products.  

We want to make sure that the testing in the program is driven towards that goal, and that the barrier to entry is as low as possible. This is to ensure that anyone who wants to demonstrate their skills can easily, and also that we can ensure that those skills remain current.

With all this in mind, we are designing the program to be modular, based around the content on Learn Chef.  There will be several levels designed to test working knowledge of our products and solutions, for both general implementations, and more advanced extension and development.

There is going to be a multi-stage approach to the program, building on the Open Badges micro-credentials that we launched with Learn Chef in June. The first stage of this plan, going live in November, is the Chef Principles Award. 

To gain the Chef Principles Award you need to complete 5 courses on Learn Chef, and then take a hands-on exam, also on Learn Chef.  You will need to enroll for the program, but then the marking will be automatic, and you will similarly receive a badge to those for completing courses on Learn Chef, and it can be shared on social media in the same way.

Next up are the Chef Product Specialist exams, these will be timed, hands-on and multiple choice exams designed to test deep knowledge of Chef Products and Solutions, implementing them in production, and best practices. Alongside these will be Chef Product Developer exams, which will also be timed, hands-on and multiple-choice exams, but focused on extending and integrating, with topics such as Chef Infra custom resources, creating resources in Chef InSpec, and implementing plugins to Train, amongst more. 

Finally, as a result of completing a number of the Specialist and Develops exams, there will be two certifications, as the top tier in product implementation, and development specialism.  Except for the Chef Principles Award, there will be a validity time on all the awards, to ensure that those holding them stay current with our products.

This is a lot to do, and it’s not all ready yet, so a little about the timescales.

The first stage, the Chef Principles, has been in beta with selected partners for a few weeks now and will go live for everyone next month. The next stage will be product specialist exams. These need to be fully scoped and then built, and we still have some technical hurdles to cross, therefore, we hope to have launched the initial core of these, to cover Infrastructure Automation, Application Delivery and Compliance in 2021.  It’s possible we will be ready sooner, and so will launch sooner if we can.  Following on from this will be the more developer-focused exams and exams for other products such as Chef Desktop.  We have no timescale for these yet but plan to follow on later in the year.

Finally a word about costs and the process for registration.  Firstly, Chef Principles will be free of charge, and requests to register will be on a form that will be accessed through Learn Chef.  You can register after completing the Learn Chef Courses, and the progress will be automatically recorded.  The Product Specialist exams will come with a nominal cost and have a limited validity to ensure certificate holders have kept up with our latest offerings.  If you want to understand how the platform is built, check out this blog post by Appsembler on how they built and extended the Open edX platform for us.


Kimball Johnson

Kimball is a Developer Advocate at Chef Software, where he spends his days creating the best training content for enabling the coded enterprise. His ten plus years of experience in the world of DevOps and Automation with a wide variety of tools with many large enterprises has given him great insight into the benefits of Automation and Testing and will use that experience to lead you in your first steps into your own journey.